The Michael Brill Fund

Our Clients
Our Services
Our Analysis Process
Economic Benefits
Our Products
Our People
Our Publications
How to Reach Us

A Process Geared to Business Success
At the core of the BOSTI process is understanding the causal relationship of workplace planning and design to business success, so that the workplace enables and supports a set of workplace behaviors that are necessary to achieve desired business outcomes. BOSTI's unique and well-proven process uses sophisticated research-based data gathering and analytical methods to identify and prioritize those workplace features and qualities that are most business-relevant, and have the highest potential for producing tangible benefits.

Our Vision: The Workplace Is An Integrated System of Enablers:
The workplace is one component of an integrated system of enablers that the organization and its people use as tools to help achieve the organization's goals. The workplace must be integrated with work processes and technology in-use to be an effective tool for work. Like any tool, the workplace has to be right for the tasks at hand.

Deep Understanding Through Research-based Workplace Analysis
To get it "right," our research-based workplace analysis is an in-depth, rigorous assessment of workplace needs, employing both quantitative and qualitative data gathering and analysis methods. Necessary data are gathered about the business, its direction and challenges, how success is gauged, the workforce, facility, work processes, technologies and activities. From an integrated analysis of all these, a work-supportive, performance-enhancing, and resource-efficient solution can be developed specifically for the workforce under consideration. By focusing on business-success relevant outcomes, our workplace analysis process directly aligns the facility initiative with business success. The logic of the process is described below:

Identifying Business Success Factors:
There are many things affecting business success, so the connection between design of the workplace and business success is not always clear. In large enterprises, management often identifies certain "success factors," used to internally measure whether the right things are being done to contribute to the successful completion of the larger organization's goals. Success factors may be quantitative (percent of time sales people spend with customers, customer satisfaction scores) or qualitative (communicate effectively, high degree of learning). While success factors can vary from organization-to-organization, they all act as sub-indicators of the primary outcome measures … individual performance, team performance, and job satisfaction.

Translating Success Factors into Design-Relevant Information:
Business success relies on the actions of the organization's people…on their ability to engage in the kinds of behaviors and activities needed to realize the organization's success factors. Design of the workplace will not directly affect business success. The workplace will, however, directly affect the behaviors of the people using it. If people are enabled to engage in the right behaviors, and enabled to be successful in completing the necessary tasks, then business success should follow. The workplace directly affects workplace behaviors, and the set of workplace behaviors directly affects the realization of business success factors.

The Process Illustrated:
Given this research-driven perspective, our workplace planning and design process moves from an understanding of overall BUSINESS OBJECTIVES to finer-grained SUCCESS FACTORS to the BEHAVIORS needed to achieve them, and then to the WORKPLACE FEATURES and qualities needed to enable the desired behaviors…going from left to right in the following diagram. When assessing (or evaluating) the effects of a workplace in use, the flow goes from right to left…how the workplace features affect behaviors, and how those behaviors, in turn, affect the business.

This set of relationships is the logical structure of our research-based workplace analysis process.

Our Workplace Analysis Process: Top-Down and Bottom-Up

The data gathering and data analysis methods used in this process include a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods, approached from both "top-down" and "bottom-up" perspectives. This allows a very robust understanding of workplace environment needs, now and in the future, one that could not be achieved by using either method alone.

Top-Down: Understanding the Business:
Our process involves understanding the business overall: its goals and challenges; business initiatives planned or underway; how people are organized to do work; and their workplace and the organization's culture. This is the "top-down" data gathering effort, understanding the "big picture" about what's important overall so that subsequent data gathering efforts can be properly focused and efficiently done. Primary methods include structured interviews with key executives and analysis of available data about the future of the business, the workforce, and the workplace.

Bottom-Up: Involving the Work Activity Experts … Your Managers and Staff
Once workers understand what's expected of them, they are very good at determining what they need to do to accomplish these goals, and at identifying those things that help or hinder their efforts. Since your people are the experts in what they do (and need to do but perhaps can't now), it makes perfect sense to deeply engage them in a process of understanding their work-related needs. The "bottom-up" component of our workplace analysis process does just that. Using focus groups, surveys and direct observations of your staff, we do research about your peoples' work behaviors and needs, and their evaluation of how the existing workplace and workplace policies helps or hinders their pursuit of being successful in their jobs, all within the framework of the business plan. As well, these are projected out into five-year futures.


Quantitative Data Gathering: Quantitative data is very useful in the decision-making process about important facility matters, but most processes sorely lack it. Our process is marked by its use. Reliable quantitative conclusions about workplace needs require input from a large enough sample of employees to allow a statistically valid investigation of differences and similarities across the variety of your business units, job types and levels. The most efficient means of getting the necessary data about work activities and their importance from a large population is through use of a questionnaire, either paper-based or electronic. Questions include probes about current individual and group work activities and where they occur (time spent, importance, whether current environment helps or hinders); existing workspace storage; technology use; and evaluation of existing workspace and work environment features and qualities (privacy, disruption, informal learning, teamwork, furniture, lighting, ergonomics, etc.) and self-ratings of individual and team performance and job satisfaction.

Other quantitative methods include space-use observations, which measure how long and how often people are out of their office, useful in identifying candidates for hotelling and telework.

Qualitative Data Gathering:
While a questionnaire efficiently gathers useful information from large numbers of people, and its analysis of its results provides factual data, it does not have a much of qualitative component…it does not easily describe the "why's" of behavior. For this reason, the questionnaire's survey results are supplemented by a series of focus groups and interviews with various job types, teams, and team leaders. These face-to-face sessions help: provide more context for analysis of the quantitative data; give an understanding of the workplace culture from the employee perspective; and offer the opportunity to identify issues that may not be covered on the survey. In addition, observations of the workplace provide input about existing conditions and current use patterns.

Data Analysis:
The data from these various sources are all considered and interpreted when developing recommendations… business documents, questionnaire results, executive interviews, focus groups, interviews, and observations. While the people doing the jobs are the experts about what they do, they are not experts at planning and designing a workplace in which to do it…that requires expertise and experience in workplace analysis and in translating identified needs into a work-supportive design.
Lessons Learned
Workspace Quality Individual
Reducing distraction
Impromptu learning, face-to-face
Comfort, ergonomics  
Place for taking a break  
Work-life balance (commute, etc.)    

The outcome of the analytical process is the identification of a set of workplace features and qualities needed to support the desired work behaviors. In addition to identifying the features and qualities, it is important to know which are of the highest priority. Having such priorities ensures that in the facility realization process the most important items are addressed first, and that funds are spent where they will bring the greatest benefit.

Priorities-Setting: From a Path-to-Outcomes Model:
We establish priorities using a statistical analysis called a Path-to-Outcomes Model. Our questionnaires contain a series of questions about individual and team performance, and about job satisfaction. Analysis of these and their relationships to workplace behaviors and workplace qualities measure their strengths of links to the desired business success factors, such as individual and team performance and job satisfaction. A sample of a generic model is shown below:

Complete models show all the factors that affect, say, individual productivity. Simplified models have been pruned to show only the most powerful workplace determinants of individual productivity.

Priorities: From a Path-to-Outcomes Model
Effects of Workplace on Individual Performance

Using Geographic Information Systems Modelling to Determine Telecommuting Candidates and to Identify Optimum Locations for Workplaces

Geographic Information System (commonly known as "GIS") analysis helps us identify 1) those employees whose travel burdens deem them suitable for telecommuting and 2) selecting locations for your offices that would substantially reduce travel time for your employees and improve client service. Our GIS modelling uses a large relational database of geographic and administrative features — highways, rivers, roads, county boundaries, zip codes, and the like — over which we superimpose your company-specific data which includes 1) existing office locations, 2) employees' homes locations and 3) your clients' business locations (by revenue produced). As well, we insert data about peak and off-peak travel times in the area along different routes. The resulting output is both a graphic representation of critical elements for our analysis (locations of offices, clients, employees) and a spreadsheet database of those clients and employees under-served or transit-burdened by current office locations.

Our objective in these analyses are to optimize both the number of offices in any region and the locations of these offices with respect to customers' locations and employees' home locations. The goal is to reclaim part of a major component of non-productive time (commute time), to improve work-life balance, to reduce voluntary separation, and to serve customers better.

About BOSTI     Our Clients    Our Services    Our Analysis Process
Economic Benefits    Our Products    Our People    Our Publications
How to Reach Us    Home