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POST OCCUPANCY EVALUATIONS
The dissertation aims to establish what Post Occupancy Evaluations (POEs) consist on, studying the origins of such practice, key features, establish who can benefit from POEs and how, identify gaps and barrier for conducting POEs, identify potential measure to encourage the use of POEs in countries such as Spain
In the introduction a reason for the selection of the topic and key objectives has been justified by the author. This justification is followed by the review of the subject. A comprehensive literature review have sets the foundation for further research and comprehension under the Spanish case scenario.
After examining the literature review, the author basically wondered whether organisations in Spain give enough consideration to their premises design and quality, and whether POEs as an instrument which can help to enhance real estate resources is broadly used in this country.
The primary research was conducted through:
a) Questionnaire surveys to 50 employees of different age, profession, type of organisations, and whose work is produced in different type of premises.
b) Semi-structured interviews with 11 professionals among Architects, designers, facilities managers and decision makers.
The results examined and evaluated have proved the author’s initial suspicion on the matter. Although corporation in Spain are increasing the consideration they have towards workplace design, there is still scope for improvement and while POEs would benefit those organisations and the users of their premises, is still a practice that is not broadly taken into consideration.
Conclusion and Recommendation
Recommendations were made for organisations who want to seen increase the level of productivity derived from their premises conditions and the efficiency of the building performance. Making companies to understand that.. (terminar este parrafo al final del todo, una vez hecha la conclusion)
I hereby certify that all material in this dissertation which is not my own work has been identified through the proper use of citations and references. I also confirm that I have fully acknowledged by name all of those individuals and organisations that have contributed to the research for this dissertation.
I further declare that this dissertation has not been accepted in part or in full for any other degree, nor it is being submitted currently for any other degree.
The dissertation contains xxxx words, exclusive of diagrams, tables, bibliography and appendices.
The author would like to acknowledge all those who have contributed in this piece of work, offering support and guidance. Firstly the author would like to thank her dissertation advisor, Dr.Edin Moossavi Nejad.
On the other hand, the author wish to acknowledge the considerable time and effort of the industry respondents in Spain who kindly agree an interview with the author or answered questionnaires, but in especial to Joaquin Rojí Gurrea who put the author in touch with other relevant professionals in Spain and Chris Watson an architect with specialist experience in approximately 100 international Post Occupancy Evaluations since the early 1980s.
Finally the author would like to thank her family for their support and understanding throughout the research’s period.
The author of this paper is an interior designer with five years experience in Spain, even though, she had to role on a masters in Building Design Management at University of Westminster to find out about the existence of a growing practice in construction’s field called Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE). In Spain so far, the author has been involved in fine-tuning processes on recently completed buildings, and her experience in analysing building performance have not gone further than that.
The author has always considered that building users are an important source of information when assessing building performance, and their point of view, needs, concerns and feedback about buildings environment and performance should not be ignored.
“Buildings affect our health, our work, our leisure, our thoughts and emotions, our sense of place and belonging. If Buildings work well, they enhance our lives, our communities, and our culture”. (George Bay et all, 1996, preface).
Although the author has not conducted any POE, she has enough experience working for other companies that does not belong to the construction industry, where little or not consideration at all was given to the working environment, affecting staff outputs, efficiency, morale and respect to the company. The author is not only trying to say that POEs were not conducted in those organisations, their decision makers would perfectly knew about the deficiencies of the workplace and did not do anything to enhance the situation.
It is necessary to learn more about the building or space that has been created and the way it is being used and operates, this way it would be possible to determine whether the building is complying with the desired organisational and operational requirements that would help the organisation to achieve its business objectives. What is before mentioned could constitute POE main statement.
Not only the total lack of experience in this field has been one of the reasons for attracting the author’s attention, on the other hand, during the secondary research the author asked colleagues in Spain about POEs and found out that not much is known about it. During the secondary research the main reviewed literary sources came from USA and UK. Literature sources from Spain were desperately sought after, but these were practically inexistent, confirming once more the author suspicion on the matter and challenging the author to carry out further investigations to determine what is the Spanish situation regarding POEs and users point of view. The literature review enabled to establish the foundations for formulating the key questions to be answered.
This research aimed to discover the feelings that occupants have toward working spaces and POE in Spain, find out how far systematised POEs have been introduced in Spain, the awareness that construction and real estate industries have about this practice in terms of its benefits, barriers and methods of application and how can POEs be encouraged among Spanish stakeholders.
The hypothesis stemmed from secondary research have been tested by conducting questionnaire surveys and interviews with working places users, architects, designers and facilities managers. Discussions and recommendations were completed by employing a systems thinking approach.
To conclude, this research is focused on; Post Occupancy Evaluations and its particular use in Spain, how far or how close is the Spanish market from other countries and the reasons why.
2. Literature review
2.1. What is a post Occupancy Evaluation
Different ways to describe what Post Occupancy Evaluations Consist on can be found, but Jaunzens et al. (2003) basically establish that is a general term employed for any “exercise that seeks to obtain feedback on the performance of an occupied building” (p.4). It could be also add that it is about to systematically evaluate to what extent building’s functions as initially intended, identifying ways to improve building design, performance and fitness for purpose. Such evaluation is based on users´s point of view about different aspects of a specific building.
On the other hand, for some authors, such as Preiser (1995), the term “Post Occupancy Evaluation” is considered a “misnomer”, in fact, other theories point that critical evaluations and reviews should be conducted throughout the entire building delivery cycle and not just once the facility has been completed and is being used.
“Although there is an implication from the term that the emphasis is on the building operation immediately after moving in, the use of POE techniques can provide useful lessons at any stage in the occupation.” (Jaunzens et al, 2003, p. 4)
“To be most effective, building performance evaluation must happen throughout the lifecycle of the building” (HEFCE 2006, p.8)
But POEs can not only be conducted once or after building occupation has taken place, Watson et al. (2007) recommends exercising POEs from initial concept stages of the project, and Barlex (2006) suggests some tools to apply when conducting POEs, from the inception of each project, through the construction and occupation stages and even so for a strategic review stage.
The term “Post Occupancy Evaluation” has been satisfactory accepted by architects, planners, designers etc., but it could be found some alternative names such as “building-in-use studies” or “Building Diagnostics” which according to Preiser (1995) have not been fully adopted. The same happened to other two mentioned by Jaunzens (2003); “Post Project Review” and “Customer Satisfaction Survey”. On the other hand, there are several articles and works employing the term “Building pathology” which is still related to building performance evaluation from the occupants /end users point of view, but focusing as well on the performance of technical aspects( structural, mechanical, etc.). The combination of both approaches may enable this term to succeed, in fact, is considered by Preiser(1995) a promising one which is acquiring recognition in Europe, especially in the United Kingdom, because it brings a good comprehensive treatment of the subject.
However, Preiser (1995) does not reject the fact that some more generic terms may appear in the future that could substitute all of the above mentioned and considers that only the time will give answer to that question.
On the other hand, because it worth ascertaining how this evaluation is called in no English speaking countries and valuate if they do refer to the same concept. Chapter 4 dig out in this issue and collects different terms used in Spain for this type of evaluation.
Originally building performance evaluations were conducted in an informal manner and the lessons learned from each type of building were applied to same building types, one of the reasons being pointed by Preiser (1995) were the little evolution that some building types experienced in the past.
At that time, building delivery processes used to be managed by a single person with multiple skills.
The situation nowadays is rather more complicated due to the fact that critical aspects on constructions such as building regulations, technical issues, health and safety requirements, sustainability plans, handicapped accessibility, fire safety etc have increased. All this, with client increasing demand from facilities, have made building delivery processes unachievable by just one person, for this reason it has become a task were different professionals with different skills needs to be involved in order to produce as building performance programme.
According to Preiser (2005), the first attempts to conduct building performance assessments from the occupants’ point of view took place at the end of the 60´s, specifically in institutional care premises, such as mental hospitals, nursing homes and correctional facilities. It was found that these types of buildings were presenting problems in their performance which were not helping in the recuperation of patients neither in the rehabilitation of prisoners.
But such evaluations were not yet called as Post Occupancy Evaluations; it would be in 1976 when such term was use for first time and in 1988 Preiser et al. published the first POE textbook which presents measurement techniques for getting feedback on the quality of facilities.
Since then POE has been applied in different countries such as United States, Canada, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, and in different size organizations and governmental institutions. But there is still a wide field and countries where the benefits of POE´S are unknown and according to the author’s pervious experience and secondary research Spain looks to among them.
2.3. Key Features
POE is still considered a new tool, but even so, Preiser (1995) recognise its utility when trying to improve the quality and performance of a building.
POE are based on the feedback provided by building users, “Evaluation and feedback are the cornerstones for the continuous improvement in building procurement” (HEFCE 2006, p.8) and this group of people includes the staff, directors, clients, visitors and owners.
A POE is generally conducted not only after the building has been completed and has been in use for a period of time. POE can also be carried out when there is an intention of developing new facilities, refurbishing the premises, or trying to manage a problem related with the building. The information obtained by POE is also of great value when the purchase or rent of a building is considered.
POEs allows to be conducted in a simple way as well as sophisticated helping in the development of guidelines and criteria to follow in the design of similar buildings in the future representing opportunities for improvement.
Preiser (1995) enumerates three levels of performance that are considered when doing evaluations:
a) Security level; Health and Safety
b) Functionality/ Efficiency level
c) Social, psychological, cultural an aesthetic level
2.4. Benefits of POEs
Watson et al (2007) supports that when POEs are conducted responding to user needs they assist in the resolution of any challenge being experienced.
Preiser (1995), states that, some of the benefits of conducing a POE are better space utilization, cost and time savings.
But in any case, POEs bring benefits at different stage of building occupancy to clients, end users, facilities managers and project team.
Some of the benefits resulting from POEs have been classified under three categories; short, medium, and long term benefits:
a) Short-term benefits:
• The identification and solution to problems or defects of buildings based on user feedback
• Satisfaction of user needs
• Improvement of space planning and space use according to users’ feedback
• For an organisation experiencing changes, whatever the reason may be, POEs can help to make understand and explain the implications that such changes may have on buildings
• POEs help in decision making
b) Medium- Term benefits:
“These include feed-forward of the positive and negative lessons learned into the next building cycle” (Preiser, 1995, p.24).
• Prevision for building adaptation to organisational change and growth optimisation of building uses.
• Discovery of new uses for buildings
• Accountability for building performance by designers
c) Long- term benefits:
• General improvements in building performance in terms of health and safety, functionality, efficiency, social and cultural satisfaction
• Improvement in design quality Review from a strategic point of view
Other general positive effects that POEs implies are: Saving costs of facilities maintenance and operation during premises life cycles, guidelines development for future projects, staff motivation and awareness of opportunities and constraints in the use of their buildings.
“The sense of “ownership” arising from participation has had positive and far-reaching social effects” (George Bail et al., 1996, p. xxii).
In order to obtained more benefits from POEs, it is necessary to spread and share the information and knowledge acquired through POE to as many people as possible who may have an interested in building performance, that includes not only buildings owners or directors, but the whole industry related sector the organisation belongs to and construction industry. The reason being for sharing knowledge is that POEs not only digs into problem resolution, it also compile useful data that enables the creation of a benchmark to which each type of institution or organisation can have access to lessons learned, that way different building projects can be compared.
In fact, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) is really concern about this issue and encourages projects performance reviews and the information obtained to be structured and available to all involved within the education sector.
2.5 Levels of POEs
POEs can be carried out at three different levels, Preiser (1995) entitled them according to the effort that implies, and these are:
a) Indicative POEs:
• They provide an instantaneous outlook.
• They are quick and can be carried out within a few hours of on-site data gathering, through walk-through evaluations, structured interviews with key personnel, group meetings with end-users.
• The aim is to produce documentation with positive and negative aspects of building performance which can set the foundation for further and deeper studies.
b) Investigative POE:
• Deeper evaluation, can last a week to several months
• Interviews and questionnaires answered by a selected group of users as representation of the whole organisation.
• Photographic and video recording may be employed
• Involvement of building of the same type
c) Diagnostic POEs.
• Focused on specific elements and general performance of buildings
• It can take months or as Preiser suggest, years.
• Requires highly sophisticated data gathering and analysis techniques
Preiser (1995) also add that POEs results in the creation of databases and generation of planning and design criteria that can be applied in the design of specific building types, such as hospitals, office, learning spaces facilities and so on…
2.6 Soft Landing approach
One of the problems that Way et al (2005) point at is the little importance that post-handover period is received within different professionals within the construction industry. Clients and occupiers tend to be abandoned by the project team after handover and according to Way, this is the moment when clients and users need the most help.
A method called Soft Landings (SL) was designed to promote more involvement of designers and builders during and after the handover of buildings achieving all round benefits: to clients, users and finally themselves by retaining the client, enhancing their skills and knowledge and ultimately improving their reputations.
This approach was developed by Mark Way after his experience in a client migration process and early occupation of the client premises. He produced a document reporting the experience to the University of Cambridge and The Director of States sponsored further research with the aim of delivering a practical guide.
Below are some of the key Features of SL approaches according to Way (2005):
• SL differs from other feedback techniques because it covers the whole process from briefing to design, construction, building delivery and occupation.
• It includes regular monitoring of the actual building performance for the first three years, creating a natural lead-in to POE.
• SL can work in two ways, standing alone or incorporating any of the other existing techniques at the appropriate stages if necessary. It strength relies in anticipating problems and providing mechanisms to deal with unseen factors
• Learning and sharing becomes a contractual obligation and not an option under this system
• Enables end users to get the best out of their new or refurbished buildings, reducing the tensions and frustrations that so often occur during initial occupancy.
The main principles to follow on behalf building suppliers are:
• Greater clarity of the duties of all parties during key stages
• Increased designer and constructor involvement before and after occupation
• A resident SL team on site during the users’ initial settling-in period
• Monitoring and review of building performance for three years.
Advantages for design team and contractors:
• Greater clarity and better communication during briefing and early design stages reduces ‘rework’ by the design team
• More effective building readiness
• Better fine-tuning to improve the product, its performance and the experience of the building for both the client and the users
• Better feedback to improve future buildings.
SL differentiates four critical stages:
• Stage 1:
briefing/programming ensuring that the following targets have been achieved and step followed;
- Definition of roles and responsibilities from both, client and design team side
- Evaluation workshops engaging all stakeholders during the briefing and early design stages
- Sign-off gateways establishing the structure for fixing decisions
- Setting environmental performance targets which have to be unambiguous, measurable and of some value, here Way follows Bordass and Leaman (1997) advice of ensuring that “design for manageability” on behalf of occupiers can be realistically undertaken.
- Incentives for design and construction team independent occupant survey prove that environmental or energy performance targets have been reached.
- Early involvement of facilities management discussing ordinary maintenance issues, access and safety, spares and furniture storage, deliveries, recycling and waste disposal, security- people and personal transport-, soft and hard landscape maintenance, management and user interfaces for engineering and control systems.
• Stage 2:
Pre-handover in ensuring a smooth building handover and occupation, SL approach suggest to:
- Instruct FM about operating systems within the new building before the its practical completion..
- Design Team and key constructors to train and demonstrate Building management systems (BMS) and controls interface.
- Plan Migration process to the new building affecting the little as possible business activities, establishing a “migration team” with representatives from the estates/property team, the users, the design and construction team, the FM team, and the removals team and which will be separated from the “snagging team”.
- Producing a user guide explaining how the building has been designed, how it is intended to work, where to get help and how to operate the local control facilities for heating, lighting, ventilation, etc., stressing the benefits to users and the business.
• Stage 3:
Aftercare during the first weeks of occupation. People will be available on site after handover, assisting occupiers, and helping to prevent minor problems that could become serious in the long term. This stage is considered an opportunity to learn from initial feedback and problem-solving.
- Regular presence on site of design and construction team representatives who Way advise to have good “people skills”, proactive attitudes to problem-solving and constant involvement through the project. The time visits depends on the size and complexity of the project but is typically two days per week for six to eight weeks.
- Maintaining Building user guidance through informal meetings between Design and Construction Team members and users representative to present key information report on progress, and deal with questions and comments.
- More Technical guidance to operators to deal with issues that emerge over the first eight weeks of operation, and to brief new people who may just arrived to the building.
- Communication and recording for future feedback of day- to day- problems that may arise through email ‘help lines’.
- Celebrate success in the new building acknowledging the achievements.
• Stage 4:
Aftercare during the first three years of occupation: after stage 3 Facilities manager becomes responsible for operating the building although regular reviews of design and construction team will continue.
- The first 12 months is about settling everything down, fine-tuning, logging usage and change, reviewing the internal environment, occupant satisfaction and energy performance in relation to design targets.
- Years Two and Three will focus on recording and reviewing the operation of the building and performance. Occupants Survey will be conducted during the first part of Year Two, if it shows that the target levels agreed at the beginning of the project are not achieved, the onus relays on the design and building team that will investigate the problems and report on possible solutions.
- FM should monitor environmental and/or energy performance on a regular basis
- FM should record fine-tuning and changes in patterns of usage and performance of the building
- Maintain the email helpline, which could cease before the end of year three.
- Regular walkabouts to the site to monitor performance and to spot unexpected circumstances that could detriment building performance.
- A closeout review at the end of the SL period represents an opportunity for a structured conclusion of lessons learned for future collaboration.
2.7 POEs and Facilities´ Management
Because facilities managers are on site and deal with everyday problems of building performance, the author considers that they play a crucial role and they should always work with designers and consultants during the whole project lifecycle, especially in the briefing stage. They need to inform the project team and decision makers about desired building performance systems and criteria for each of the spaces that form part of the building.
Outsourced Facilities Managers help organisations to concentrate on its core business, but on the other hand organisations could be particularly vulnerable if effective feedback systems are not in place (Federal Facilities Council, 2001).
When trying to achieve quality improvement, Facilities Management can benefit from the data gathering methods and experience that POEs offers because these can be applied to different situations. Therefore, facilities managers should follow BRE (2003) advised of considering POE techniques within the context of a continuous improvement process; in the other hand the author adds that POE techniques should be seen by Facilities managers as a indispensable “toolkit” rather than any other type of theories or practices.
In the other hand, some theories recommend Facilities Managers to be trained in basic POE techniques so they can conduct simple evaluations on an annual basis or at the time of occurrence of specific problems that are uncomplicated to analyse and resolve. The outcome of such training would result in cost and time savings for the organisation.
Buildings are not only seen by organisations as investment assets; they are also important in functional terms. Proper management of non-core services of organizations is essential in order to achieve organizational objectives.
James Douglas (1996), states that POEs are becoming a significant benchmark source for facilities management.
2.7 Barriers for Conducting POEs
The author already produced a list of some reasons that may drive clients and organisations from Angle Saxon countries and Spain to discard the possibility of conducting POEs. Below is an enumeration of reasons the author found in his literature review. Spanish situation towards POE will be discussed later on.
Time and Money: Some organisations think that there is no business case for spending more time and money once the buildings has been completed. There is no doubt that POEs implies an investment, but the costs will depend upon the techniques applied and deepness of the evaluation. Potential organisations may not be able to accept the cost of POEs in relationship to the cost benefits to be derived, to this; Preiser (2002) affirms that the benefits may have a multiplier effect of 300-1000 per cent of funds invested. Although is some case organisations would prefer a comprehensive review at time and money limitations is better to start for them to evaluate those things they really interested in.
Lack of cooperation: Some organisations are apathetic to collaborate with the project team by letting them to conduct a POE. Decision makers from organisations may have heard enough complains about the new building performance and do not want to get into more troubles.
Project team liabilities: In the other hand, it may happen that some project teams are the ones who do not want a POE to being carried out. POEs could bring into the light problems to resolve for what they are responsible, taking the risk of being sued by the client.
Lack of motivation on End users/ occupiers; some of them generally feel exhausted after moving and having to adapt to new premises, in the other hand they believe that POEs will not make any change in building performance because they do not trust their directors’ intentionality for enhancing things. During the primary research, surveys were distributed in Spain to building users which includes a question that intends to establish the level of motivation they may have to collaborate in building evaluations. The results are shown on Chapter 4.2.9, (page 21). On the other hand, chapter 4.2.10 (page 22) discusses the hope that employees have on their organisations implementing changes and doing improvements after a building evaluation.
At the beginning, the cost of performing POEs was the main reason for decision makers to reject them. But nowadays, thanks to the continue development, standardization in data-gathering methods and instruments, POEs are far more feasible. Preiser noted that in 1995 “The experience has been that indicative POEs cost approximately 50 cents per square foot, investigative POEs cost US$1.75 per square foot, whereas diagnostic POEs can cost anywhere upwards from US$2.50 per evaluated square foot” (p.2).
Not enough benchmarks freely available due to the lack of funding for data management affecting the continuity in many POE activities. (Bordass et al. 2005)
2.8 How to Encourage POEs
The author has before mentioned the concern in POEs on behalf of HEFCE, which in 2000, accepted the Higher Education Design Quality Forum (HEDQF) proposal of developing a POE guidelines and review process. The aim was encouraging good quality building design by allowing others learn from previous experience and lessons learned when constructing different types of buildings.
The support for implementing POEs is gradually increasing in the United Kingdom not only from Architects but governmental institutions as well.
According to what has been published in Digest 478 from BRE, the RIBA Practice Services encourages the systemised feedback and instituting of POEs as a way to improve the interaction between client and end users. In fact, the stage M from the RIBA Outline plan of work is called “Feedback”.
Other institution that supports POEs is the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) which consider that public sector clients needs to be provided with “best practice on procurement, programmes, projects, risk and service management” (BRE, Digest 478 2003, p.5).
Furthermore, signatories are obliged to get feedback on building performance under The Confederation of Construction Clients (CCC) Clients´ charter.
Bordass et al. still (2005) recognise that there are still difficulties among government, institutions and industry in promoting and supporting feedback in the public interest. Sometimes lack of consensus and money does not help therefore one of the solutions proposed is the creation of a a non-profit charity to provide information and advice
– but again, this would also need to gain support from a range of public, institutional, commercial, professional and individual sources.
The author is concerned about the ignorance or reluctance towards POEs that still exist in countries like Spain. She considers that different means for promoting the use of POE should be encouraged by different professional bodies, institutions or even from governmental departments. It is necessary to make organisations in Spain to recognise that the “whole life” performance and operation of buildings should form part of the strategic estate management and be seen not as an option but essential to their survival.
At this moment one way to promote POEs and following UK steps, would consist in the development of a document offering simple guidance and summarising the different POEs approaches used.
2.9 Summary of Literature Review
Post Occupancy Evaluations basically seeks to obtain feedback from end users about different aspects on the performance of an occupied building for subsequent evaluation. The outcome of such evaluation is the identification of improvements to be done within the building valued information for future purchase or rent of buildings.
POEs can be conducted throughout the entire building delivery cycle and not just after 6-12 months of building occupation.
Originally building performance evaluations were conducted in an informal manner. The first attempts to conduct building performance assessments from the occupants’ point of view took place at the end of the 60´s, specifically in institutional care premises and were not yet called as Post Occupancy Evaluations; it was in 1976 when such term was use for first time.
POEs allows to be conducted in a simple way as well as sophisticated helping in the development of guidelines and criteria to follow in the design of similar buildings in the future representing opportunities for improvement bringing short, medium, and long term benefits.
Other general positive effects that POEs implies are: Saving costs of facilities maintenance and operation during premises life cycles, guidelines development for future projects, staff motivation and awareness of opportunities and constraints in the use of their buildings. The deepness of POEs outcomes will depend of the level of investigation conducted (Indicative, Investigative, or Diagnostic).
To increase benefits from POEs, it is necessary to spread and share the information and knowledge acquired through POE to as many people as possible who may have an interested in building performance, having access to lessons learned and comparing different building projects.
Facilities managers should always work with designers and consultants during the whole project lifecycle, especially in the briefing stage. They can benefit from the data gathering methods and experience that POEs offers because these can be applied to different situations therefore is as an indispensable “toolkit” rather than any other type of theories or practices, for all these reasons it is considered that Facilities Managers should be trained in basic POE techniques
Some of the barriers for Conducting POEs are related to; time and money, Lack of cooperation from stakeholders and the fear for litigation scenarios among design and construction teams.
Governmental institutions, architects and different professional bodies in countries like the United Kingdom are gradually increasing their support for implementing POEs, different guides and publications shows signs of this. Furthermore, signatories are obliged to get feedback on building performance under The Confederation of Construction Clients (CCC) Clients´ charter.
Sir John Egan stated that “The industry has no objective process for auditing client satisfaction” when reporting on UK construction firms in 1998 now is time to see whether the same can be applied to the Spanish case scenario.
3. Research methodology
The aim of this dissertation is to determine whether the practice of POEs in Spain is widely known and conducted, determining the reasons which breaks the spread of its use and how companies can implement this practice from a strategic point of view in order to achieve more profitability from their premises as well as more productivity from their employers.
To achieve the ultimate goal, the research is divided into several objectives:
a) Determine in which level organisations in Spain gives importance to users feedback
b) Find out whether the term of Post Occupancy Evaluation is known in Spain
c) Identify what professionals understand by Post Occupancy Evaluation
d) Synthesise literature review findings with opinions and theories provided by those inquired in order to provide recommendations to the Spanish scenario.
The author was conscious of her ambitious intentions, but she relied in the interest that the subject could bring among her Spanish colleagues to whom she previously talked about. The word-of- mouth has played a crucial role in the research process, working in the author’s favour and inciting a number of people to fill questionnaires and confer interviews.
3.2 Secondary and primary research
The secondary research started before the primary research was conducted but afterwards both were developed simultaneously.
In order to gain background knowledge of the subject, which is fully stated in chapter 2, (page xxx), Secondary research was basically based on desk research gathering data from publications, e-books, articles from professional newspapers or magazines and academic papers.
The primary research was conducted after presenting the interim submission and after fully considering the span of the project, implications and constraints. The data collection process has been explained on chapter 3.5 (page xxx).
3.3 Research Strategy
The research strategy combines quantitative and qualitative research techniques. The quantitative research techniques have produced numerical data which have been identified and measured. The findings provided by this quantitative research are “generalised” and had the intention of testing the hypothesis previously mentioned by the author on chapter 1 (page)
The qualitative research consists in interviews conducted with different professionals and stakeholders and has help to build up some other theories or hypothesis.
The findings and interpretations of quantitative and qualitative research are shown on chapter 4.
3.4 Research Design
The approach adopted in terms of research design has been the one of “case study”, which on the other hand, is associated with a qualitative research strategy but incorporating as well quantitative methods as previously mentioned on chapter 3.1.This approach has been set to determine and explain the particular circumstances that may have an effect on the way building performance – and its impact on users - are seen and treated in Spain.
3.5 Description of data collection process
The second part of the dissertation, after the literature review, has been based on Spain POEs´s case scenario and the way their implantation could be encouraged in this country. For this reason the main bulk of data for further research has come from there.
In order to achieve the before mentioned objectives the questionnaires and interviews were designed to answer the following key questions.
a) What are the perceptions that end users have on one hand against their workplace design and quality, and on the other hand against their organisations and decision makers?
b) American or British Corporations are keener in investing in POEs abroad rather than Spanish companies?
c) Which Stakeholders shows major interest in POEs?
d) In which measure are building performance evaluations conducted in Spain?
e) How the use of POEs could be encouraged in Spain.
In order to obtain a wide range of points of view on the matter, diverse type of people have been interviewed and questions have differ from different profiles. Thus, people have been classified under different categories.
3.5.1 Questionnaire surveys
Questionnaire surveys were conducted in order to find out opinions and views from end users about their buildings performances, their organisations behaviours. The content of the questionnaires were gradually refined during the secondary research period ending up in a final list of questions which were tested on a pilot study of four people before being distributed. The questionnaires were sent and filled by a selective sample of fifty people from different ages, different industries and from Spanish and foreign organisations located in different cities of Spain.
The types of questions on the questionnaire were of different styles: closed, open, Likert scale, numerical rating scales and ranking scales.
In order to save time and money electronic questionnaires and an attached covering letter, which provided basic information of the topic, research aims and instructions for completing and returning the questionnaire, were sent through email and sent back to an email address created exclusively for this project: [email protected]
In order to explore issues in greater detail, personal interviews were conducted with some of the respondents of questionnaires who luckily were available and approachable, giving them the opportunity to expand their answers and express in more depth their point of view.
For those people who were available and open to held discussions, semi- structured interviews were conducted with an agenda with questions and different issues set up, but enabling the discussion to be developed in order to allow other issues to come to the surface.
3.5.3 Profiles interviewed
Opinion expressed by some of the participants in the interviews may provoke controversy among some readers. In order to avoid any polemic situation and pursuing a discretional aim, allusions made in this document to any of the interviewed person who prefer to preserve their anonymity have been done using the initials of their first and second person’s name.
4. Findings & Discussion
Chapter 4 in general presents the results from the primary research in a clear and objective way.
On one hand, diagrams and charts represents the results of the questionnaires in terms of percentages, The reader will find that, on some sub-chapters, the interpretation of the data gathered has been completed with extracts of declarations and testimonies given by those interviewed and their consequent author’s analysis and discussion. Later on, chapter 5 the reader will summarise the whole study together.
4.2 Employees feeling about their working environment
4.2.1 Do you agree in a casual link between workplace design and business productivity?
This closed question was intended to examine whether end users recognise that the quality of the workplace in terms of design can have an impact on their productivity.
4 which illustrates a basic pie chart suggest that 76 % of respondents agree with the fact that business productivity is related with workplace design, but still, a significant 24 % does not rely on this relation. Some of the respondents that did denied such relation maintained the argument that what really counts in business productivity is individual capacity and aim to produce.
On the other hand, although not represented in the pie chart, it worth to mention that the ages of those who answered “no” were in most cases the eldest. That fact induces to think that younger generations have higher standards regarding their workplaces.
The question presented here results does not provide enough data to analyse, and therefore it has been developed in the next question.
4.2.2 In which percentage would you say workplace design affects the productivity?
This question was intended to determine in which percentage workplace design affects productivity according to respondent’s point of view. The question asked respondents to answer the question by choosing between four different scales; 0-25%, 25-50%, 50-75 % and 75-100% . The figure illustrates that the higher score was obtained by the scale of 50-75 % which obtained the 34% of the polls; this one was followed by the scale of 75-100% level of incidence on productivity with a result of 26 %. Therefore, in view of the results, 60 % of respondents consider that workplace design has an incidence on business productivity of over 50% when still a 40 % of respondents situate the level of incidence in a scale below 50%.
In some cases respondents who agreed with the fact that workplace design affects business productivity (Question expressed on chapter 4.2.1) have however valued the incidence on productivity under the scale 0-25 %. When some of those respondents were asked to explain this fact, they answer that this was because their actual job was not specifically based within their organisation premises. Such responses belonged to the industry of communication.
4.2.3 In which percentage do you believe the quality of the working environment accounts against your job satisfaction?
This question pretends to determine the impact of workplace design and quality on employee’s satisfaction regarding their jobs and organisations. In view of the results Workplace design and quality plays an important role: 40 % of respondent considered that it has an importance of at least 50-75 %.
The other purpose of this question is to differentiate between two hypotheses; on one hand workplace design affects productivity (as analysed on chapter 4.2.1 and 4.2.2), on the other hand, workplace can also have an impact of employee’s emotional feelings against their job and companies they work for.
The author has observed another curious fact; some respondents, like those working for legal and financial firms, considered that workplace design has little effect on business productivity, but on the other hand they consider that they highly accounts against their satisfaction with their companies. A lawyer and financial broker where asked about this question and both explained that workplace design enhance the company image and therefore their self esteem as professionals.
Respondents working for hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and biology industries also recognises that workplace have a high impact on their job satisfaction, but in their cases is not only about image, the workplace and the elements within it represents the basic structure to develop their job properly becoming a source of personal satisfaction itself.
4.2.4 Which key design factors are generally considered more important by office end users? Space planning, quality of light Visual comfort), indoor air quality and thermal comfort, furniture…?
The aim of this question is to determine the main design objectives to target and achieve by in a Spanish workplace, in order for this one to become environmentally comfortable and attractive for their employees.
Respondents had to rate the importance of six design factors being number six the highest score and number one the lower score to be given to each of these factors.
Total number of points that each design factor has received and on the other hand how many times have been rated with each number. The highest score of 272 points was obtained by technical equipment and installations, this design factor includes among others telecommunications and this was a decisive reason for respondents to give the highest valuation.
Unfortunately sustainability is the factor that receives less appreciation by respondents.
One of the interviewed persons, Mr. M.R, who works for the public administration, recognises that he loves his job but hates his workplace; the department within the company he works for is located on a lower ground floor where no natural light and poor ventilation is provided. He is already experiencing physical and mental problems after working in these conditions more than nine hours per day. He does not have any doubt that the migraines he suffers almost every day, vision loss and sometimes apathy are directly related to the working environment. One employer or a security service company, Mr. E.S, complains about a similar situation where at the end of the day he goes back home in the mood of doing nothing because the working place absorbs all his energies and making him to do nothing but to go straight to bed. “I love my job, I liked the company, but lately I do feel that is taken all my life”.
4.2.5 Would you feel embarrassed to bring colleagues or clients to your offices?
The question shown in this chapter is important because pretends to determine whether in the actuality respondents are proud of the workplace they work for.
60 % of respondents would not feel embarrassed, although it represent the greater part, is significant that still a 40 % would not like to bring client or colleagues due to the working place conditions within their organisations.
Corporate culture and values could also be represented in the workplace design, and therefore can make a positive or a negative impact on visitors. An effective design would attract clients and supplier attention, is like individual’s image. Workplace reflects corporation’s ambitions and statements, if they are not neat and meticulous organised, organisations may not be taken in consideration seriously not only by clients and suppliers but the people who work within it. The shape and aesthetic of the workplace can also minimise employee’s morale and attitude towards their jobs and organisations.
But it is not only about employees, client and suppliers, Ms. E.F, who works as a HHRR manager of a consultancy services company, suggest that organisations must not forget other key persons within organisation’s development which are the potential employees. The theory pointed by Ms. E.F has been reinforced by the P.A, Ms. V.E and the National director of a security services company, Mr. E.A; both related that they can perceive whether they want to be part of an organisation just after being five minutes observing the working space.
“In most cases, potential employees perceive what is going on within an organisation and they intuit what can expect by having a first glance on the premises. If organisations want to attract competitive employees they must make sure that work space design and conditions reflects that is organisation where it worth to work for and which is going to fulfil employees professional aspirations” (Ms. E.F)
This last point mentioned acquires special importance in this moment of economical and financial crisis where hiring processes are experiencing sharper sieves.
4.2.6 Do you think your workplace has been designed with the staff in mind?
When a new workplace is going to be build or refurbished is not only about meet organisations needs, workplace users are the one who know better the strength and weakness of the workplace, taking decision without considering their point of view will not help in the design and construction of a better workplace or building.
Some of the interviewed workplace users have expressed in their interviews their frustration when new premises that have been provided present mistakes that could be avoided if end users where involved in the inception phase offering their point of view about different issues.
The question expressed in this chapter identifies whether respondents organisations took into consideration the real needs of their employers as a whole group and regarding the specific needs of different organisational departments. The results are shown in percentage and alerts of a 54 % against a 46 % of users who consider that the place they work in have not taken into account their needs. One curious fact is that all respondents working for security service (4) and textile industrial (3) companies, plus those in the public administration (2) have denied that the premises they work in have design with staff in mind, and all these companies are Spanish and not foreigner.
Ms. V.E has twenty years professional experience in different type of companies, Spanish, other European and American companies. So far she has the feeling that foreign ones looks after their employees better than the Spanish ones and this “is something that is reflected in the offices, in the working environment, from the space dedicated to each person, furniture, vending areas etc..”
4.2.7. Building and end users, who serves who.
There is a debate among decision makers whether is about the users to adapt themselves to the working space instead of being the working space the one to be adapted to the workers. This is considered by Mr. E.S, call centre operator from a security services company, as a “attitude of tyranny” of employers against their employees, it seems as if they want to get the most of us investing as little as possible in our working environment, sometimes I have the feeling that some people still thinks that we are leaving in those times of slavery and they consider we are cattle”.
4.2.8 Do you feel that in your company, the building, as a basic resource is underestimated or overlooked?
In previous chapters it has been established that in Spain workplace design is also considered to favour or detriment business productivity, employee’s efficiency, employee’s job satisfaction and empathy towards their organisations, and finally organisation’s public image. Having agreed with this, buildings constitute a basic resource for core business development and should be seen more as a key resource rather than a liability.
What this question tried to determine is whether respondents sees in their workplace a basic resource which is exploit or contrary underestimate.
Although the author did not provided the clause of “not sure” in this question of the survey, she had finally to add it to the pie chart because it represents the 22 % of the polls. The author had doubts about whether the question was fully understood among respondents and in order to avoid any misunderstanding she contacted some of the respondents who gave such answer. According to the conversations held, respondents were sincerely not able to determine whether their workplace where completely or not underestimated. Besides this uncertainty amount of opinions, 50 % considered that workplace as a basic resource for the development of the core business within their organisation were underestimate against a 28 % that considered it was not.
4.2.9 Do organisations involve all parties interested when conducting any type of building evaluation?
For this question it has been preferred to refer to “any type of building evaluation” because according to the secondary research, post occupancy evaluations is a term still somehow unfamiliar, especially among people who do not belong to the construction industry. On the other hand is necessary to clarify that the question refers to any type of building evaluation not only in terms of their volume, depth level, issue to be evaluate or time within the building cycle-life when they have been conducted.
The question pretends to determine whether all stakeholders are involved in the process and taken into account or whether opinions and decisions are held among a few. This question presented a Likert scale; respondents were asked to indicate their level of agreement with a series of statements provided.
Independent results for responses given by those who work for Spanish and foreign organisation. At first glance it can be observed that there is a substantial difference of behaviour between Spanish and foreign companies; the results obtained by the “agree” and “strongly agreed” statements represents the 59% of votes among respondents working for foreign organisations and just a 21,2% of respondents from Spanish organisation. On the other hand it worth to mention the fact that 0% of foreign companies’ respondents voted for “strongly disagree” and 0% of Spanish companies’ respondents voted for “strongly agree”. Just the results explained in this paragraph are enough to maintain that the level of employee’s involvement in building evaluations is considerably smaller in Spanish organisations in front of foreign ones
4.2.10. After a refurbishment or relocation would you cooperate with POE filling questionnaires, answering surveys etc or do you believe that believe that moving in is disruptive enough and would you prefer getting on with your work?
Chapter 2.7 (page 7) has discussed that one of the barriers for conducting POE in organisation is the possible lack of cooperation of end users.
The results of the closed question expressed in this chapter have been represented on figure 12 which provides different bars for answers given by foreign and Spanish organisations’ respondents.
The results obtained by both profile are on one hand quite close from each other and on the other hand quite encouraging because in both cases more than 76% of respondents in both cases answered that they would be willing to cooperate.
4.2.11 Do you think that the staff point of view would count or at the end nothing is going to be done?
The level of motivation among building users towards building performance evaluation could be influenced by the certainty or doubts they may have regarding whether changes and improvements are really going to take place after such building evaluations. When some end users may trust corporations good wills in improving workplace conditions other may still have some doubts.
This question pretends to determine whether respondents think that changes would be definitely be implemented in their organisations after a POE.
A positive result; in both, foreign and Spanish corporation, at least 67% of end users relies on organisation intention of implementing those changes that would improve workplace conditions, however, results shows more confidence in this fact among foreign companies end users against those working for Spanish organisations
4.2.12. Users becoming familiar with the building
According to some PROBE studies, users perceptions towards buildings and their performance, particularly the one related to energy management systems and different type of control systems, are often set in the first few months after the handover of the premises, At this point is about to question how long is needed for users to become familiar with the building and know its strengths and weaknesses. The first months of occupation could be very critical and further discrepancies and friction may occur between clients, different stakeholders and construction and design team.
Mr. J.R remembers that occasionally staff complains about the new building and its performance just on the ground that things are different from the way it used to be prior to the project and to which they were used to. It is also important conceiving a period of adaptation but this is generally not taken into account due to the cost that this may imply.
Would users welcome the initiative of a team; Facilities managers, Human Resources personnel, or Design team, conducting welcome sessions explaining the use of new buildings? Is lost time? Without mentioning PROBE previous studies on POEs, Architects and designers interviewed in Spain came to the same conclusion that the before mentioned professional body is promoting and that it consist in the necessity of identifying the factors that prevent from a successful building handover and identify the reasons why clients and end users have troubles understanding the performance of their buildings. The research team will help a building owner through the difficult months of initial occupation, and assist with energy targeting, monitoring and reporting procedures. The successes and failures of this strategy will then be reported so others can benefit.
4.2.13. What other factors may influence the way end users evaluate and perceive their workplace?
This open question was asked to groups A B and C. Nine of the thirteen respondents suggest that emotional and psychological factors can also explain the emotional reactions that users may have towards the building.
Maria Soledad Rodriguez et al. (1996), states that perceptions that users have about a building can be structured in five; evaluation, temperature, space, air and noise. Architect and designers are aware of the elements a project have to comply with in terms of cost, material, space, thermal conditions and constraints, etc. All this aspects are not totally independent from each other and sometimes does not relate to users perception. In order to understand the relation between users and the building they occupy it is necessary to more psychological information, professionals need to know how people does evaluate buildings.
Some of the solutions to implement after a building evaluation could have the intention of interfere in people’s psyche, changing the perception they have about things.
Mr. J.R remembers a case during the 60´s when there was a building in New York in which the lifts were not able to give service to the vast amount of people in the rush hours. Different solutions were given like increasing the power of the engines or widening the space of the lifts, but the final one accepted and adopted was very curious, the wall from the lobbies were covered with mirrors. It was a psychological solution; during the waiting time women would look their images in the mirror polish themselves and men would observe them. The solution adopted had the intention of distracting them about the time they had to wait for the lifts.
4.3 Conflicts during a project life
The questionnaire included a question which asks group A what type of circumstances and elements generate problems during a project.
Table xxxx shows the answers given; some answers were repeated among participants.
Gross of bureaucracy, quality of hard labour, Lack of cooperation between teams, Spanish mentality
4.3.1 Bureaucracy required in a project
What happens nowadays is that the volume of work to do within the context of an architectural project is so big, not in terms of the project itself but in terms of the amount of bureaucracy to be resolved, building regulations to comply with, planning permissions etc., and all this represent a paramount load of work that architects can not do by themselves and therefore needs of the help of more specialised professional within the project team.
4.3.2 Lack of cooperation between teams
The aim for these team members is to work in harmony all together, but sometimes as Mr. W.O claims that self-centred attitudes of some professionals have negative effect on the overall project processes and therefore could reduce the quality of the final product. Many times in the architecture firm where Mr. W.O works, the lack of cooperation spirit and collaboration between different professionals involved in the project generates conflicts and as a consequence, Mr. W.O architecture’s firm end up assuming responsibilities that either do no correspond to them or are not going to be paid for.
4.3.3 Spanish attitude
Mr. W.O also suggest that many times is difficult to reach an agreement among the parties involved on one hand because each one wants to defend their on interest but on the other hand because the typical Spanish character likes to quarrel.
4.3.4 Hand labour’s substandard
All interviewed professionals within the construction industry have suggest that one of the reasons that may also provoke faults in the building or in the construction processes- reducing its quality- is the employment of construction workers in Spain who hardly speaks or understands Spanish. This type of labour on the other hand is not sufficient skilled and trained in the tasks they are supposed to perform. Initially hiring this type of hand labour may reduce cost, but at medium and long term it becomes more expensive because of the fine-tuning works to do and things to repair. The forecast that some professionals have predicted for this type of labour is presented on chapter 4.4 (page xxx)
4.3.5 Lack of time to develop a proper pre-project
In Spain the frequent pitfall is demanding things, pre-projects to be done “for yesterday” allowing not enough time for the proper study of project needs and development of concept design, detailed design, etc…things are requested with not enough time in advance, as Mr. A.S states that “clients may request architects to design a project in two weeks but then clients spend more than three weeks to take a decision”.
4.4 The term POE in Spain
4.4.1 Have you heard about the Post Occupancy Evaluation? Have you heard about the term itself?
According to Mr. J.R, the concept behind POE is quite old although it does not appear under this term, as he said “POE is just one “term” a sort of title, nothing else, but is true that we do improve (architects, executives, HHRR) thanks to those evaluations”. In Spain Building Performance Evaluations and POEs intend to acquire the level of specialization as is happening with the term Project Management. “Is a practice which is looking to be specialised becoming a business department, a business unit. But it is nothing new. Is like life which have a birth and a dead, it develops with the time but the aim is the same, to live, to maintain live”.
4.4.2 Initial position of Architects towards POEs
Definitely, as Mr. W.O comments, in case something does not work as expected in the building a Poe can bring to the surface whether all these different professionals have worked properly, or accomplished their goals. On the other hand, Mr. J.R considers that basically and only after fatal mistakes, faults in the building, it performance or constructive elements become uncovered.
Once a building is finished, is not only about finding mistakes and errors, Mr. J.R suggest that architects goal is to be in charge of the maintenance, they want to keep the client to fulfil once more client’s needs. They come back to the client warning them about possible new needs according to the current time and new technologies available. Architects should propose the client with possible improvements and changes, especially to those clients with offices well spread around, ie. In banks societies if one change is done to one office, the remaining ones will have to follow the same path. In any case, the results of any BPE must comply with the local building regulations and on the other hand they will never take into account individuals’ singularity, changes proposes must be justified and represent answer to communal interests.
4.4.3 Initial position of Decision makers towards POEs, according to architects.
Reluctance to change
Mr. W.O considers that Spanish mentality, in general, is reluctant to change. Due to their own nature, cultural factors or religion’s influence the first answer given by a Spanish is “no”, to reject changes and they tend to be negative. Here the task of the architects and designers is basically of a psychological nature, is about to convince clients and end users of the benefits that specific changes may bring. For example, on one hand employers may loose their individual offices, but on the other hand he may benefit from having a better desk incorporated with individual light regulators, electrical plugs to mention an example.
Decision making = time consuming
According to Mr. W.O Spanish organisations still have to improve the way they conceive the space in comparison with American or British organisations, they still conceive offices and working spaces as close units, they tend to maintain a pyramidal organisation structure, in this type of organisation the bureaucracy is higher, any small and no transcendental decisions that does not compromise special risks takes lot of time sometimes due to corporative politics.
Spanish mentality to improve
In Spain there are still some mentalities that promote a caciques’ attitude. The employer have to produce at any cost, but in any case, gradually this is changing, specially because executives directives are travelling to other countries other offices, they have been working abroad and they have acquire a different culture and architect need to convince less. If the Spanish company has offices abroad they tend to be different, but those who only work locally in Spain still need to improve. Spanish companies dedicate fewer resources than foreign ones to the well being of their employees within the buildings.
Mr. W.O considers that some historical events such as the Spanish civil war could have had an influence in Spanish mentality; Companies where their directors are over 60 years, who have suffered the consequences of the civil war and on the other hand have straighten up the country, may still defends economical politics of spending money in just what is “really necessary” in detriment of working spaces quality and the productivity generated by employees.
It worth investing in POEs regularly in order to save time and money in future projects, but some companies may not want to really make such an effort and expect the design team to do all the work because at the end of the are paid , “ at the end I am the one paying, designer should do their work”. Its again about mentality, a 60 year old business man has nothing to do with a 30 year old one, they have had different experiences and education, and as a consequence they do behave different when taking business decisions. It is necessary that history events that conditions Spanish mentalities such as the civil war and dictatorship to belong to the past, to turn page, only by letting this things go, Spanish attitude towards different issue will change and improve.
4.4.4. Do you know if the first systematic attempts at assessing building performance were based on any specific issue?
Mr. J.R is not 100% sure, but points out that, originally some Spanish hospitals presented problems in terms of intercommunication because of the length of corridors and distance to walk from one unit to another one. Patients and consultants for example complained about the time that takes to get the results from tumours analyzed is directly affected by the distance between operating rooms and laboratories. Mr. JR commented that even now, recent refurbished hospitals present faults just after one year of performance, such is the case of Puerta de Hierro Hospital in Madrid, a PPP (Public Private Partnership) project commissioned by Bovis Lend Lease España. The refurbishment was done according to specific needs at the moment of inception phase, once operating again, the demand increased and now the resources available in the aforementioned hospital are not sufficient.
4.4.5. Do you agree in conducting POEs twelve months after the completion of a project?
Mr. J.R considers that Puerta de Hierro Hospital case proves that is a mistake evaluating the performance of buildings 12 months after their completions according to the needs prior to the project, it would be more sensible evaluating buildings according to the needs of that specific moment, having future needs in mind. On the other hand, the first thing to do is to evaluate general needs and afterwards those related to the space. It is also important to keep in mind that buildings vary according to the activities performed in it, but the activities as well vary over the time.
4.4.6. Do you know of any companies specialized in POE?
Mr. W.O does not know of any company who are specialised in Poe either; he intuits that in case of existing one in Spain most probably this one would be based in Barcelona. This city is, from Spain, the one most open and receptive to new trends in general, especially since the 1992 Olympic Games, Barcelona has had the opportunity to construct buildings that Madrid has not yet had. Barcelona has count with the investment of foreign capital, especially British real estate companies, to construct towers and buildings of high quality with the latest technology because this is what foreign organisations are looking for.
Madrid could aspire to have high quality buildings in terms of design and technology in case it becomes host for the 2016 Olympic Games. This point have been discussed further on chapter xxxx(pagexxx).
Post occupancy evaluations conducted regularly by clients could help the client to have clearer ideas regarding their needs when embarking on a new building project.
4.4.7. Spain v Rest of the world
Mr. J.R believes that there is nothing to make us think that BPE or POE has more success among foreign corporations rather than in Spanish ones. Cultural factors may have an influence in the way evaluations are conceived in different countries, but the current tendency is to move forward globalization. For example, the Inbitex Group aim, to which the retail company Zara belongs to, is to have international presence in the market, and for this reason it globalises its business. Nowadays everyone shares experiences and lessons learned and Spanish release their own experiences as well. “We, the Spanish, are born evaluators, very critics, as critics as we are with our governments, but outside Spain we do impose less”.
Mr. J.R states that “…The United Kingdom is not so advanced in building evaluations and on the other hand Spain is not that behind”
4.4.8 Is litigation an unwanted but likely consequence of critical scrutiny of building performance?
Mr. J.R denies such affirmation on the on the ground that at the conclusion and the acceptance of the building, the client is giving his agreement with the product delivered and expressing his level of satisfaction. Evaluating the building performance is the client task. Hence, is paramount setting up clear needs and objectives at the inception phase maintaining fluids communication between clients and project managers. “The same happens when buying a car, is up to the buyer to evaluate the product which will give the level of customer satisfaction, the motor company is not going to call buyers to analyse the product”. Therefore, it seems ridiculous for the Design team to conduct a building POE 12 months after its use when it has already been accepted. On the other hand some mistakes are not cause of litigation because they were missed by both, clients and design team.
4.4.9. Architects/consultants insurance premium may rise in the event of such evaluations to cover the increased risk. Could also the insurance be invalidated?
According to Mr. J.R, insurances could not be invalidated but the premium could rise. If the insurance companies finds out that things are not done the way they should they can increase the insurance premium, this is the task of the Insurance company risk manager. The insurance could be invalidated if building regulations are not complied with. Once the building has been accepted there is nothing the Insurer can do about it because he has also accepted the building and give his agreement. It is only during the construction phase when premium can decrease or rise. All parties involved are affected by the acceptance of the building. The Insurer is only concerned with things done properly at the moment of the acceptance and should one of those to be more interest in evaluation during the construction phase.
Mr. W.O also adds that that wouldn’t be a barrier in Spain and does not personally worry him. “It is more about learning to accept your mistakes, the ego of architects is a very difficult thing, but not only in Spain is a universal aspect. Sometimes ego could be bigger that the intention of learned from previous experiences”.
4.5 Facilities Management v Human Resources and POE
Mr. A.M started his career very young as maintenance engineering foe a Spanish company, improved his profile and became the Facilities Manager for that company. For the last 12 years he has been working for an American company. Mr. A.M thinks that Spanish corporations should pay more attention to the working space in order to get the most of their staff and retain key personnel.
“Spanish corporations are doing better, but 12 years ago I was shocked when I moved to an American company, there I started seen things in a different way, I knew about other working system in terms of property management, I had the feeling that a wider window was opening in front of me, a window to learn and enjoy more my job”.
According to Mr. J.R, organisations can not create a department just for POEs or BPE practices. These must be integrated within the company organization chart.
With the emergence of facilities management, buildings start to being seen more as an enabler of the core business, but interviews held with members of group B determined barriers for POEs within the FM and HHRR sector.
• Facilities Manager is considered in Spain as a new specialisation, as Project manager is, a new figure within the industry. Still some of them in organisations use to be service engineers or people with a business education and as consequence, what one lack is what the other provides, it is necessary for FM to have a more completed education in building performance standards and business strategy vision. They lack specialist awareness of building performance or business strategy…
• They recognise that it is need more training in evaluating methods and interpreting results
• POEs benefits and uses have not yet fully explored and tested in Spain, decision makers fear of POEs evaluating irrelevant just because they can be evaluated, wasting time and money. Investment in POE is only done when mayor problems arise or the cost benefits of such evaluation can be clearly seen or predict and justified, and here in Spain, FM are still not so educated or experience in POE to be able to demonstrate such benefits.
• Ms. E.F personally supports recognises that head of different departments pursuing personal ambitions do not generally want to raise issues or complain about the working spaces conditions of the employees within their departments.
• Facilities managers are seen as the responsible for all that is happening on a building, but do not always have the opportunity, means and support to conduct BPEs.
- FM does not have enough power or direct communications to advice and influence decision makers
- There is not time contemplated for conducting such evaluations, they do not receive enough cooperation from head of department by providing enough feedback,
Outsourced facilities managers help organisations to concentrate on its core businesses and have access to more information to compare different buildings performance, but they need long time to getting familiarised with the building and establish relationship with users, subcontractors and suppliers, and when they achieve this goal they are relocated to other clients and therefore organisations never have someone who is really familiarised with the building and organisation, the new FM will need time to get familiarised with the building and organisation wasting time and cooling fluent communications.
The recommendations that members from group B have suggested have been summarised in the next ones:
• It is necessary to gradually instruct both department, FM and HHRR in POE techniques.
• FM should have benchmark to compare performance in similar type of buildings, share lessons learned. Organisations or professional bodies in Spain should work on the same directions as PROBE does.
• Facilities managers should be involved in the briefing process, in the new building design and it would be necessary for their motivation, letting them now that they will continue to form part of the organisation in a medium-long term.
• FM sector should promote POEs to improve FM service itself by providing direct solutions and therefore user satisfaction by quick response on behalf of FM to different matters.
• Construction industry could help the FM task by providing more complete “as built” records of new buildings. Old building owners should invest and encourage the production and recompilation of information.
So in view of the testimonies, Facilities management sector should seen POE as a mean to develop their role better and provide more satisfying outcomes and therefore they should invest time in getting trained, recompile information, contrast different methods, and convince decision makers of POE importance.
4.6 Spain in economical and financial Recession
Spain is, with Ireland, the country that has suffered the largest real estate bubble worldwide.
Companies involved in property market in Spain are experiencing difficulties to escape from the economic and financial crisis. Spanish property market is not able to catch the attention of investors. "Now there is money to invest in real estate, but does not go to Spain because it is off the map" (Frederic Mangeant, General Director Knight Frank, 2009). Buying a Building in Spain now is not as profitable as it can be in other European countries because property prices have not experienced enough reduction yet. Mangeant also add that investors prefer London to Madrid, according to his words, London is offering a yield of 7% while Madrid would give only 5% for the same type of building. Therefore and right now, Spain doesn’t seem to be competitive in acquisitions market of commercial estates.
Spain is experiencing an economic scenario where the unemployment rate is over 17%. Organisations in Spain are trying to reduce costs; this measure is especially applied to personal expenses and employees salaries which in most of the case have been frozen. On one hand some companies during recession times decides no to invest time and money in space optimisation strategies from any point of view. Mr. W.O advice decisions makers to avoid working spaces to be worsen and ensure that principal design elements and comfort are not overlooked, on one hand because that would affect productivity and because employees are used to some quality standards, but according to Mr. E.D:
“Specially now, the employee consider he has more power against their employees, Spain is experiencing a significant rise in unemployment levels, some employers take advantage of it and tells you to be happy with what you have and don’t be fussy with any aspects of the company, because otherwise you could be in the streets”.
On the other hand Mr. A.S alerts that in recession times, where competitiveness among companies and among professional is greater, is crucial to maintain, develop or even implant if necessary, those measures that will help to maintain the most talented professional within the organisation; and therefore, a second though about the working environment conditions must be contemplated” . Mr. W.O, like the rest of professionals from Group A, agree that to survive the recession is necessary to reduce personnel and keep those employees that are really productive but without worsening their working conditions; otherwise they could migrate to other companies.
On the other hand Mr. J.R considers that if business activity does not go well is essential to reduce staff and therefore space, but that does not mean making staff redundant, it is about relocation and study whether providing computerized business information and enhancing communications some part of personnel can work from other places such as their homes without affecting productivity.
In relation to what has been exposed in the previous paragraph, Mr. W.O explains one case where its architecture firm is working on: an organisation with more than 5000 employees working on different premises. Only one of these premises is property of the client, the other ones are rented, Mr. W.O and his team, after a rigorous evaluation, is looking for a strategy that increase the profitability and benefits in terms of usable space primarily. Mr. Ortiz has suggested for this project to replace the ratio of 30-40 sq m per individual boxes for 8-10 sq m instead, for each person, instead of providing a space of 17-18 sq m to provide 6-7 sq m, their approach tend to imitate the American scales. Individual offices will only be provided for general directors and generally there will be plenty of open spaces. The aim is to relocate the group from a surface of 2700 sq m into the owned building whose usable space is 900 sq m. Employees who after a refurbishment or relocation to a new building are devoid of their own offices presents difficulties in getting used to the new situation.
Mr. J.R also points that in economic terms, one of the goals that BPE must seek is profitability, maintaining the building alive so it can develop its business activity and keep producing benefits. On an annual basis, organisations must question whether the profits resulted from their portfolio have increased or contrary have been reduced. POEs during recession times as the one Spain is living can help considerably. Companies are seeing how some of their properties are not bringing benefits due to scary scenario in which leasing contracts made are in a significant percentage in relation to previous years. It time to analyse whether is the moment of pursuing ZERO-PROFIT situation = no costs, no incomes.
Companies during recession times will make just minor adjustment to their premises or working spaces, they will wait for the economic scenario to improve to make major changes. In any case organisation would benefit from doing small POE. Mr W.O has set out a particular case within the architecture firm he works for; the firm is now working on a small hotel project with limited budget, the cost per square metre is 500 Euros. The client in this case originally decided to take responsibility for the construction management in order to reduce costs. Because the client was not going to have an experienced agent for managing the construction process, the firm has adopted a collaboration attitude with him and offered the service of construction management with no charge in order to make sure that the final product delivered complies with the original needs and aims. The firm suggested conducting in the future, but always it the client economic conditions have been enhanced, a building performance evaluation to see what things and elements need to be improved.
Mr. W.O, But during this recession period what it could also may happen, or at least it would be more sensible to do, is to carry out more control and evaluations over projects at inception phases, demanding projects to be more defined by designers, instead of developing more post occupancy evaluations once the building have been used after one year.
But in any case, there are some other recommendations to follow: In Chapter 4.2 it has been mentioned the tendency of hiring hard labour which is not fully skilled, qualified or even have problems communicating in the local language, the Spanish. In the current economical and financial crisis, construction in Spain is going to see how the hiring of this type of labour is going to be increased. It is not the best thing to do, but at the moment some professionals in the construction industry see this as the only way of getting projects completed. It will be necessary to wait for the recession to invert to see improvements in the quality of buildings, and then, in some cases, with the help and application of POE techniques, undertake reforms with the aim of achieving improvement in the building performance. But as Mr. A.S expressed, “if there is not a thorough sieve when selecting personnel, POE will mean nothing because mistakes will keep occurring”.
4.7 Future of POE in Spain
4.7.1 Interpreting results
According to Mr. J.R is not fully known yet how to interpret the results from POE and BPE, is necessary to investigate and guess out how to measure and interpret the results from such evaluations but because in Spain there are not so many POEs done is not yet know how to interpret the results. On the other hand, the optimum levels required in each type of facility in terms of temperature, indoor lighting, and space per person and so on is partially known, but Mr. J.R suggests that it is not known where the comfort scale resides on because in fact is difficult to define and establish. Mr. A.S also add that user’s perception of comfort and their level of satisfaction also changes with the time, this way, working spaces that would satisfied people a century ago would not even satisfy current workers in a 25 %. Therefore if it were possible establishing the band of environmental satisfaction in different type of working environments this most probably would change over the time.
On the other hand, Mr. W.O considers that what it can work for someone may not work for others; individuals have different necessities at different stages of their life. The maximum aspiration within a project would be the possibility of providing the users the mechanism to regulate technical elements according to their own needs, for example, having working station where each worker could regulate individually the light, temperature, air conditioning. Providing this type of devices may rise the cost of the project, but long term it provides saving to the company in terms of energy used.
Society changes with the time, individual changes during their life, a group of people within an organisation may have different needs from other groups, not only in organisation terms but in personal ones. Learning how to interpret the results from building evaluations will determine the real needs of end users from different perspectives.
4.7.2 Should companies and consultants advocate more investment in knowledge and data building?
According to Mr. J.R they do, and he puts as example the case of the telecommunications company Telefonica development in Madrid. Architecture firms do not have a department specialized in BPE because it would add significant cost, what they do is to form a group of consultants in different disciplines.
4.7.3 Could the Olympic Games contribute to POE expansion?
Mr. W.O foresees that Post occupancy evaluation will be more implanted in Spain in ten years time, especially if Spain wins the candidature to host the 1016 Olympic Games and Mr. A.S add that they could help POEs in acquiring a higher level of specialization and acceptance by organisations and construction industry. The capital to be invested for such purpose is going to be enormous, according to Carlos Sanchez (El Confidencial, 2009), the third part of the total cost would be paid by the Spanish State assuming the 33, 33% of the funding of the necessary infrastructure, therefore Mr. W.O considers necessary to increase control over the projects to be undertaken and improve building performance measurement techniques. If Spain does end up not hosting the Olympic Games it may take a little bit of time to fully implement the practice of Post Occupancy Evaluation, this will also depend of the time the recession could last for.
4.7.4 In-house consultants V external consultants
All participants from group A recommend that the consultancy group in charge of the POE must be external, neutral, and should have not participated in the project. HHRR and FM from the company which premises are going to be evaluated should not participate profoundly in the evaluation and should just provide the necessary information to the external consultancy company.
4.7.5 Instructing in POEs
It is necessary to provide further education on POE, its backgrounds, methods etc…?
Ms. E.C considers that is still necessary to educate professionals in POE background and techniques and not just count on their degree and professional experience.
On the other hand Mr. W.O considers that the best professionals to carry out evaluations would be those with a previous experience of at least 20 years. He recognises that when a client advise him of an external consultancy company going to evaluate and control any of the project he is working on, he always ask for the professionals to be more experienced that him :
“I want my project to be evaluated by someone with a deep and wide knowledge on this industry, tools and the necessary background to make a proper evaluation. That way I will be able to learn from the experience. I do not want a 25-30 year old to come to my project, I do not think he would be able to make a great contribution and therefore I could eat him for breakfast”.
Mr. R.J considers that the subject of Post Occupancy Evaluation - techniques and methods - should be taught in the university, at degree level.
4.7.6 How to encourage the use of POEs?
Mr. W.O thinks that Public organisations should be the ones to promote the use of POE, first implementing the practice in public buildings to gain experience and finally, converting POE in a compulsory activity within the construction industry.
Mr. A.S sees in the previous idea an opportunity for controlling property developers that wish to speculate and deliver products of a fewer quality of it was expected, either for not complying with building regulations or with client needs and agreements. The fear of a compulsory Poe could incite property developers to make sure that the right techniques and materials have been employed during construction phase
5. Conclusions and recommendations
The results extracted from questionnaires and the testimony of interviewed building end users and presented on chapter 4.2 lead to the following conclusions.
1. Employees, especially those who belong to younger generations, recognise that workplace design and building performance can have an impact on:
• Employee’s business productivity: more than 75 % of respondents agreed with this statement, furthermore the results established that more of 60% of respondents considers that at least 50% of business productivity outcomes are influences by building performance.
• Employee’s job satisfaction; 58% of responses considered that work spaces counts at least 50% against their job satisfaction. According to people interviewed, Job satisfaction for an individual is not only about developing the desired job, the principal goal is to develop the job properly, maximising the outcomes and producing under healthy and safe conditions. If work spaces contribute to this goal, they will be therefore enhancing individual’s job satisfaction. Organisations that do not pay attention to working spaces conditions not only are helping to detriment business productivity and job satisfaction, on the other hand they are contributing in the deterioration of their corporate image, culture and will detriment employees self - esteem and sympathy towards their companies.
In order to achieve business productivity and job satisfaction, organisation in Spain still have to make improvement and must pay attention to those technical services provided within the building that represent the core equipment for business development. Furthermore, each working station must provide environmental and health and safety conditions that are not going to have negative repercussions on individual’s well-being whether at working hours or during their spare time and entire life.
• External Corporate image; clients, suppliers and potential employees can perceive positive and negative aspects of organisations from working spaces design, shape and conditions. Therefore, and once more, here is a reason for organisations to implement those measures and techniques that will assist their premises to project the desired image and achieve business success. 60% of responses would not feel embarrassed when receiving visits, but the 40% who said they would still points that organisations in Spain does not pay attention to the image that their premises project.
2. The results of the primary research also shows that organisations in Spain, especially Spanish born, still need to make improvements by:
• Listening to the building’s perceptions that staff have on a regular basis, trying to compile as much information as possible, involving if not all users at least a significant and reliable sample of them. Only this way mistakes can be corrected and underperformances improved.
• Changing their attitude towards buildings and assuming that these are the ones to serve the users and is not up to the users to change their habits because of buildings conditions.
• Understanding that workplace is not a detached element from others involved in the production process and contrary is absolutely related to becoming a enabling resource of business development. Therefore organisation should study how to obtain more benefits from the working space whether is rented or owned.
3. Organisations in Spain when conducting Building performance evaluation should:
• Properly explain the evaluation process and benefits to attract user’s cooperation. Although an important percentage of people in Spain is willing to cooperate it is necessary to gain the trust of those who still shows sceptic about the subject.
• Generate enough data by involving a representative and significant number of people.
• Show the results of such evaluations to end users explaining the action to be taken at least in the near future. Making sure that after building evaluations, necessary and feasible improvements are going to take place. In case of not making improvement in some areas, explain end user the reasons why, otherwise ends users will not have faith in future POEs and will loose the respect for decision makers.
• Request the HHRR department within the organisation to cooperate in the POE by determining under which ground users evaluations are done, whether some observations are influenced by emotional factors because in this case other measures will need to be taken.
4. After the completion of a building or refurbishment organisations to:
• Conduct building welcome sessions where the changes and building performance in general is explain to end users.
• Consider a period of adaptation on behalf of end users, relocating people from one building to another in different batches in order to test the new building and compile feedback of its performance.
5. Improvement during construction process
• More specialised professionals involved in the project
• Rise hand labour standards
• Proper time for project development
• More fluent process when decision making
• More collaboration among projects teams
• To carry out more control and evaluations over projects at inception phases, demanding projects to be more defined by designers
6. Diagnostic of POEs in Spain
Although not share by one of the architects interviewed, according to the general findings from both primary and secondary research, the term POE is not yet fully extended or used in Spain. Some building performance evaluations are conducted, but these are not done on a systematised basis or they are focused on specific aspects of buildings; according to some of the interviewed people, thermal comfort is one of the aspects more evaluated from building performance.
The findings also prove that architects in Spain, against what some British and American authors believe, do not fear from potential POEs bringing to the light possible mistakes in building performance from which they may be responsible for. Spanish architects neither fear of potential rise in the insurance premiums.
For some professional within the construction industry in Spain POE does not only represent a mean for revealing building’s bad performance but a way to keep client relationship, offering further services on a regular basis.
POEs should predict future needs rather than focusing on past design briefs.
Winning the candidacy for the 2016 Olympic Games could represent and advantage for implementing and development of POEs in Spain.
Learn more from the way user evaluate and perceive buildings.
Learn how to interpret the results from POE and BPE, investigating and guessing out how to measure and interpret the results from such evaluations
Determining where the comfort line resides within different type of spaces, setting up the design standards for each type of working station.
Facilities management courses are gradually implementing this term in their contents, but POEs techniques and methods should also be tough at degree level in any construction and real estate management related degrees.
HHRR departments and facilities managers to works together revising when building evaluations may be need.
To hire neutral, external and an experienced team of consultants for POEs in order to obtain objective evaluation and interpretations from POEs conducted. Experienced here means that not only those professionals need to be trained in poe, this professional should have previous professional background to strengths their conclusion after POE and make better recommendations.
Public organisations should be the ones to promote the use of POE, first implementing the practice in public buildings to gain experience and finally, converting POE in a compulsory activity within the construction industry
End users in Spain should show more positive attitude towards the changes implement within the workplace, once more and as it has been previously mentioned, design team, HHRR, Facilities managers could help with the adaptation process by explaining end users the reasons for the design implemented within the work space.
7. Spain in Economical and financial recession should especially invest in POE because this way.
Will realise whether space optimisation is taking place and determine what space strategies could be implemented in order to achieve space cost reduction.
To determine how to obtain more economical direct profit from buildings and help in real states managing decisions
Is a paramount keeping happy and fulfil competitive employee dissuading them to move to other companies.