From Numbers to Nurture: Harnessing Data for Employee-Centric Workplaces

In this conversation between Shravan Bendapudi of Gensler and workplace transformation expert Sibani Sarma, the focus is on the application of data to enhance employee experiences, and create inclusive and flexible work environments. This is from a series of conversations titled ‘Reframe’, presented by Bristol Furniture, that explores various facets of a shift in organisations thinking towards becoming employee centric from decades of being employer centricity. There are various facets of being employee centric and Reframe, through each episode, captures some of these. Reframe is about looking at employees as the fulcrum of an organisation’s growth.


Shravan Bendapudi sat down with Sibani Sarma to discuss the significance of data in designing modern workplaces. The conversation focused on the application of data to enhance employee experiences, predict behavior, and create inclusive and flexible work environments. Shravan shed light on the evolving role of data in workplace design and the need for organizations to leverage it effectively.

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The Role of Data in Workplace Design

Shravan emphasized the growing importance of data in designing workspaces that cater to the needs and preferences of employees. He discussed how organizations are now tracking attendance patterns, analyzing various parameters, such as time of week, month, and seasonality, to predict and optimize space utilization. By collecting and analyzing data, companies can make informed decisions about space allocation, cafeteria planning, and overall occupancy management. Data-driven insights enable organizations to provide flexibility and accommodate different working styles and preferences.

The Big Data vs. Small Data Dilemma

The interview touched upon the concept of big data and its impact on workplace design. Shravan highlighted that while big data is being collected extensively, there is still a lack of clarity regarding its practical application. Organizations are in the early stages of understanding how to derive meaningful insights and predict employee behavior. However, Shravan also emphasized the importance of small data and the “why” behind the data. Small data, obtained through traditional research methods, helps establish a theoretical basis and provides context for the insights derived from big data. The combination of big data and small data offers a comprehensive understanding of workplace dynamics.

Predicting Employee Behavior and Experience

The discussion explored the ability of data to predict employee behavior and improve workplace experiences. Shravan acknowledged that data analysis can help organizations understand how people use space, their preferences, and the factors influencing their behavior. This knowledge enables organizations to create environments that align with employee expectations, enhance productivity, and foster a sense of belonging. By using data to study behavioral patterns and motivations, organizations can implement changes that positively impact the overall employee experience.

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Data Manipulation and Ethical Considerations

Sibani raised the concern of data manipulation by organizational leaders to influence employee behavior. Shravan addressed this issue by emphasizing that most leaders have good intentions when implementing hybrid work models. They aim to create a workplace culture that facilitates collaboration and reflects company values. Data analysis helps leaders understand the needs and preferences of their workforce, especially for new employees who have joined during remote work periods. By aligning their home office environments with company values, employees can feel connected and integrated within the organization.

The Value of Insights from Shravan Bendapudi

Shravan acknowledged that his insights are based on personal observations and experiences. He expressed the importance of diverse perspectives in understanding workplace dynamics, as different individuals may have different insights and observations. However, his viewpoint reflects the current trends in leveraging data for workplace design and the potential benefits it can bring to organizations.


Shravan Bendapudi’s interview highlighted the increasing significance of data in designing modern workplaces. By collecting and analyzing data, organizations can predict employee behavior, optimize space utilization, and enhance the overall employee experience. The combination of big data and small data offers a comprehensive understanding of workplace dynamics, enabling organizations to create flexible and inclusive environments. As data continues to play a pivotal role in workplace design, organizations must harness its power to shape spaces that meet the evolving needs and expectations of their workforce.

Watch the full interview here.