The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an incredibly stressful period for millions around the world. Beyond all of the human tragedy and suffering, the working world is also facing an unprecedented challenge with the shift of hundreds of millions of employees to work from home.
A number of our customers have reached out asking us about leveraging data from productivity tools to assess the impact of this massive change on their workforces. Many are desperately looking for ways to support employees in this new environment. They are concerned with the impact that the recent chaos is having on employee experience, morale and overall productivity. Their managers report struggling with a sudden loss of visibility and are looking for ways to keep up-to-date without micromanaging their teams. We’re also hearing about the complexities of supporting employees with widely varying work patterns and schedules, often due to each individual’s home environment and challenges (e.g., parents balancing childcare with the recent closure of many schools.)
We work with a number of organizations to analyze data from common productivity tools including G Suite, Office 365, Slack and more, to provide insight into employee experience, collaboration and productivity. This data is ideal for providing a unique view into how work patterns are changing as a result of the move to WFH.
Work From Home Readiness
To assist our customers we’ve spent the last few weeks developing a new WFH Readiness Report designed to measure how effectively organizations are adapting to the change. The report measures key trends in collaboration and activity and how they are impacted since the move. Our goal is to help organizations rapidly adapt to the change and support their teams in getting back to normal levels of interaction and productivity.
To maintain privacy we analyze only metadata (timestamps, never content) and data is always aggregated to the team/group level. We’re only interested in macro level trends and no individuals are ever identified. The report is divided into 4 parts described below.
We are seeing an increased number of interruptions from tools like email, Slack, Teams etc leading to a sharp decline in focus time.
1. Key Trends and New Risks
WFH has obviously forced some major changes in work patterns, the biggest of which is that almost all communication is now occurring digitally through tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Email and Zoom. Our report looks at over 100 metrics to understand how work patterns in these tools are changing and what the implications are for productivity, collaboration and more.
Here are a few of the early patterns we’re seeing across many organizations:
- A lot more meetings as people move to digital coordination
- Many more small meetings. E.g., 1-to-1 conversations which would have previously been informal chats.
- An increased number of interruptions from tools like email, Slack, Teams etc leading to a sharp decline in focus time.
- Longer work hours by around 10-20% on average
- More after hours email as the lines between work and personal life blur.
- A lot more collaboration but an increasing number of isolated individuals.
- Significantly more interaction from managers as they need to check in more often to stay up top date
2. WFH Readiness Score
Many organizations have supported remote work for years and there are great best practices for doing so. We’ve found that it’s possible to measure a number of these practices using data from productivity tools. To help give organizations a sense of how well they are adapting to WFH, we have developed a Work From Home Readiness Checklist and score that tracks around 20 common best practices passively across the org. The goal is to give organizations a quick indication of how they are doing and what simple actions they should consider taking to improve. This score is provided with a benchmark comparing how organizations are doing against our anonymized internal dataset. Below is an example of some of the practices we consider and passively detect.
3. Identifying Hotspots
A number of our customers have reported that some parts of their organizations seem to be doing a better job of adapting than others. To help identify areas that require more support and potentially coaching, we’re breaking down WFH readiness scores and trends by groups such as department, team and role. This allows organizations to easily pinpoint at risk areas, take action early on and track the results of their actions. See an example below.
We are collaborating with experts in remote work to assess how well organizations appear to be adapting and to make tailored recommendations. This feedback is provided both at an organizational level and down to the group level for areas requiring more tailored assistance. In addition, one of the great benefits of productivity data is that it’s available in real-time. This lets us track the impact of interventions and training, and helps organizations adjust accordingly.
Business Impact of WFH
Our goal with the WFH report is to help organizations deal with this change and get back on track as soon as possible. We hope this data prevents some of the business impact we’re already seeing with customers:
- Lower employee engagement
- Issues with work-life balance and increased employee burnout
- Increased work disruption and slower collaboration
- Lower overall productivity
The COVID-19 pandemic is massively impacting workforces around the world and productivity data is well positioned to measure this impact and provide actionable insight into the changes occurring. We hope that with this tool we’re able to lessen the economic impact by helping organizations get back to normal sooner. We’ll be sharing more of our findings across organizations in the coming weeks so be sure to stay tuned for more. Also, if you’re interested in learning more about the report itself, here’s a link to our marketing material and you can contact our team at firstname.lastname@example.org.