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How Workplace Technologies Can Increases Employee Engagement

March 25, 2016
Enlighted Inc.

Renee Lertzman and Sue Kochan penned a great piece for Greenbiz.com titled “5 truths about our relationship with energy.” In it they describe common problems with behavior-focused building energy efficiency programs.

These include approaching behavior change using an information deficit model which presupposes that all people need is more information and they will be motivated to change their behaviour. Or the belief that incentives alone can entice people into lasting behavior change — when the truth is that incentives typically provide short-term stimulus, but the behavior often erodes when the incentive is removed.

They instead take a savvy emotional-relational approach and describe several factors that influence people’s behaviors towards energy efficiency. These include 1) socializing the change process and 2) giving individuals creative control. They argue, convincingly, that holistic approaches that emphasize “purpose, mastery, and autonomy” are more effective in producing lasting results.

Successful workplaces can benefit from this perspective when adopting new technology. Like software that polls building occupants for their real-time preferences related to the environmental conditions in an office. This feedback is integrated and used to optimize the building environment in response to occupant demand.

Technologies like this are prosocial because they engage occupants in group decision-making, and are empowering because they give employees more individual and collective control over their shared work environment. The result is improved energy efficiency, but also a more cohesive and comfortable work place.

The Internet of Things for commercial buildings works best when used in similar ways. While IoT for buildings does constructively automate some of the behavioral dimensions of building energy efficiency, it also creates mountains of useful data that can be used to empower building occupants towards other types of positive behavior change.

Technology alone won’t solve issues of workplace engagement for companies. But it is possible to use it to gather and disseminate data that gives workers actionable, on-demand insights about productivity as well as their relationship to each other and to the organization. Organizations that give workers control in this way will benefit the most.

Allowing workers creative control over their place of work, and their data, will empower them to contribute more meaningfully to the organization’s goals and higher purpose. IoT for buildings,  as well as many other workplace technologies, can help make this possible, with a little imagination.