It wasn’t always the case that once a project was complete and the new occupiers where toiling away in their new workspace, it would make sense to ask if the original intentions of the design are delivering on their promise.
Project Managers, Architects and Clients kept in touch of course – they had to – they had the defects liability period, for goodness sake. But did anyone ask all those in occupation what they thought, how they felt about their new home?
When did Post Occupancy Evaluations (POE) really take off? Around the mid-2000s. However, no one I know has ever embarked on the sort of study that was outlined to me by Dr Harriet Shortt. This is because the approach here is to focus on a sensory, emotional, and placemaking perspective. And evidence is collected using participant-led photography – a visual method that privileges the voices of users of a workplace.
All ‘occupiers’ were involved. They are asked: How do you feel about the space? How are you using the building? They report back their ‘lived experiences’ by taking photos and posting them to (in this case), Instagram with a hashtag, or a dedicated project email account, with short narratives about the photos and what they mean. This allows for an accessible and process efficient way for the target population to engage, contribute, and share their experiences.
Once all the images are collected, there is a specific process followed to bring them into a conclusive and insightful data set – Grounded Visual Pattern Analysis (Shortt and Warren, 2019).
Dr Harriet Shortt is an Associate Professor in Organisation Studies at Bristol Business School, UWE, and Head of Visual Engagement at Bibo Studios Ltd, and she will be presenting some of the findings from her recent POE at the upcoming Workplace Trends Research Summit on the 19th of April 2023.
Photo credit jovanmandic via iStock License