Why collaboration data needs to be a key part of your 2023 HR strategy.

As we look ahead to 2023, many of the same post-pandemic work trends are likely to continue.  With the continued labor shortage, stalled return-to-office strategies, and the popularity of hybrid and remote work, the way that teams collaborate, interact, and get work done will largely continue to be in the digital space.

In order to succeed in this new hybrid world, companies need to excel at working and collaborating through digital platforms. This starts with understanding exactly how work happens, identifying weaknesses, and adopting best practices.

Over the past year, however, traditional point-in-time surveys have proven to be insufficient for understanding how teams interact. Companies will need to rethink their employee listening strategies to incorporate new techniques. This is where analyzing collaboration patterns in data from digital platforms comes in. This powerful new toolkit has proven invaluable for understanding how organizations operate and identifying how the underlying patterns in work and collaboration impact employee experience.

Key to implementing this new employee listening strategy is ensuring that employee privacy is always protected. New technology in this space has made it possible for companies to extract meaningful data from completely anonymized collaboration data.

Below are 4 examples of why you should include collaboration data in their 2023 employee listening strategy

  • Understand how to navigate economic downturns
  • Maintain team network health and culture
  • Prevent Over-collaboration
  • Enhance Work-life balance

Navigate Economic Downturns

Amid persistently high inflation, volatile market conditions, and uncertainty on consumer demand and sentiment, companies are increasingly starting to freeze hiring.  Teams are quickly realizing that they need to find ways to work more efficiently with limited resources.  This however is easier said than done. Hybrid and remote work has tended to increase coordination overhead and make it somewhat more challenging for teams to gain visibility into areas where potential efficiency improvements can be made. This is coupled with increasing pressure on remaining team members which is likely to lead to increased burnout rates.

Measuring metrics like total time spent in meetings or the average amount of focus time per employee can help managers understand how effective and efficient the team is in making decisions necessary.  These metrics, along with others, can also act as leading indicators that signal issues within the processes and norms within the team.  Such leading indicators help companies be more proactive and ensure their team is positioned for success.

Ensure Networks are Healthy

One of the key differences in hybrid or remote work is how people have to be far more intentional and proactive about maintaining culture and connections.  An example where this intentionality is key is around the new hire onboarding experience. It used to be that new hires could meet team members for lunch, walk around the office, and be introduced to other teams and key connectors. This mostly organic interaction would fast-track their ramp-up and integration into a team.

In hybrid/remote, things are very different. New hires often start their first week from home. If managers and other team members don't proactively reach out to the new hires, they will struggle to make those connections. It’s easy to be out of sight and out of mind and many new hires are struggling as a result.

Data can be critical in mitigating the impacts in this key area. Organizational network analysis can help companies understand the development of these relationship networks, and implement interventions to spur their growth. In the remote onboarding case, this involves understanding where they are struggling to integrate new hires and helping teams implement strategies like a new hire buddy system to get things back on track.

Prevent Over-collaboration

Since the pandemic began, Focus Time has declined significantly for many of our clients. As we have been helping companies combine their survey data with their collaboration data, we are starting to see correlations that have never been measured before. One such correlation in the combined data we have consistently seen is the link between the focus time their employees have and how productive they feel. Combining both survey and collaboration data also allows us to dig further into the drivers behind the sentiment.

The case detailed below is specific to how much focus time employees have and their reported productivity

Those who reported higher productivity had an average of 4.4 hours of focus time. Those who did not feel productive had an average of 2.7 hours of focus time. The combination of these two data sets is quickly becoming the best way to support hybrid and remote populations.

Enhance Work-Life Balance

While remote work provided employees with a significant level of flexibility, it also blurred the lines between work and personal lives.  This blurring was very prevalent during the pandemic, when employees often took more breaks during the day but then worked longer, later into the day. This change in schedules has continued through the pandemic and does not show signs of slackening.  While it provides employees with more flexibility, it also means they have less time to relax afterward.  Work remains on their minds for longer, providing a less mental balance between work and life.

In addition, a rising number of employees work significant hours on weekends. This trend appears to have worsened with remote work. The move to hybrid or full-time remote work has done little to reverse the trend, however, further increasing the risk of burnout.  People working long hours on weekends is another leading indicator of worsening employee well-being.

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