PLASTARC Returns to Wharton People Analytics Conference

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Conversation about place continues to grow within people analytics community

The PLASTARC team presents at the 2018 Startup Competition.

In 2018, PLASTARC brought home the award for "Most Innovative Use of Data"

"Our interdisciplinary team uses a combination of design expertise and social research methods to make workplaces better for the people who use them. We believe in the power of people analytics—using data to understand how spaces can better serve human factors—to improve organizations."

PLASTARC, a social science-based workplace consulting and strategy firm, will return to the Wharton People Analytics Conference (WPAC) after winning “Most Innovative Use of Data” in last year’s startup competition. PLASTARC has been involved in WPAC since it began six years ago, and was previously a finalist in the competition before winning in 2018. With a focus on the intersection of data, people, technology, and organizations, the April 4-5 conference is organized by students and faculty involved with the interdisciplinary People Analytics Initiative within the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

From urban design to architecture, place—and its influence on the way people work—is becoming increasingly significant to those seeking to improve business performance. The data insights PLASTARC provides for individual organizations are akin to those that coworking providers use to optimize their own facilities, so it is unsurprising that last year’s startup competition awards directly followed a presentation by David Fano, WeWork’s chief growth officer. The innovation around spaces is a focal point for people analytics, and WPAC’s 2019 program promises to build upon these trends.

Reb Rebele, Senior Research Fellow of the Wharton People Analytics Initiative at The Wharton School, and a judge in the startup competition, spoke on the importance of the conference: “The Wharton People Analytics Conference is a place for leaders and emerging voices in people analytics to come together and connect, creating a community of practice. In our rapidly growing field, a startup competition promotes the next generation of ideas in the discipline, and highlights the business case for people analytics.” Over the course of WPAC’s six years, the value of people analytics has become increasingly recognized, and it has moved rapidly into the mainstream. For example, leaders from Microsoft have spoken at several WPAC events, and in 2015 Microsoft acquired people analytics software provider VoloMetrix, integrating their products into Office 365.

Melissa Marsh, PLASTARC’s Founder and Executive Director, shared what makes the conference a perennial favorite: “We love the diversity of ideas on offer. It showcases the broad range of applications for people science, from sports to facilities management.”

In last year’s award-winning submission, PLASTARC detailed how their team combines data from original research and existing sources like building systems and HR tools to generate insights. Employee engagement surveys, facilities management software, human resources tools, interviews, and occupancy data are synthesized into findings that paint a nuanced picture of how a space is being used. This provides the necessary context to make recommendations that can help a business improve its spaces in ways that actually serve the people who work there.

“Our interdisciplinary team uses a combination of design expertise and social research methods to make workplaces better for the people who use them. We believe in the power of people analytics—using data to understand how spaces can better serve human factors—to improve organizations,” Marsh said. “Our goal is to make the world a better place, one workplace at a time, by putting people at the center of design and strategy.”

To hear more about last year’s WPAC and PLASTARC’s award-winning submission, please listen to Marsh’s interview at the 26 minute mark of the Wharton People Analytics Conference Special, which aired on Business Radio Powered by the Wharton School on Sirius.

About PLASTARC:
PLASTARC, founded in 2012, is a consultancy dedicated to increasing the flexibility and desirability of space using social research and occupant engagement. By shifting the conversation from square feet and inches to occupant satisfaction and performance, PLASTARC specializes in integrated workplace design and strategy that helps clients leverage their real estate for optimal organizational performance.

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Roger Marsh
PLASTARC
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