Workplace analytics making hybrid workforce data meaningful

by Massimo Sanna

16 November 2021

Woman wearing a headset working on her laptop

Workplace analytics – making hybrid workforce data meaningful

Workplace analytics is a relatively new flavor of the discipline of data analytics. But it’s gaining increasing attention from business, IT and human resources leaders. Essentially, workplace analytics involves capturing, analyzing and acting upon data that’s gathered about an organization’s workforce.

As we all know, the ‘workplace’ of today looks fundamentally different to what it did just two years ago. Now, many organizations are beginning to re-open their offices after extended pandemic-induced closures. But at the same time, many people are expressing a preference to continue to work remotely, at least part of the time.

This raises the question: are organizations doing enough for their employees?

In answering this question, let’s first consider precisely what it is that employees now need, from a technical and personal wellbeing point of view.

Technology

Without the correct enabling technologies, remote working arrangements won’t be sustainable for the long haul. That’s because most businesses' collaboration, networking, and security infrastructure simply wasn’t designed with this in mind.

Consider these statistics from our recently published Global Workplace Report:

  • Almost two in three (66%) organizations say business-grade internet connections are an additional measure required to support remote/hybrid workers.
  • 9% need to deploy mobile devices (laptops, tablets, etc.).
  • 54% need to conduct working environment assessments.
  • 51% need to implement special cybersecurity tools.

Continuing on the topic of cybersecurity, 79% of organizations say they find it more difficult to spot IT security or business risk brought about by employees when they are working remotely, and 55% report that they’ve had to completely rethink their IT security to accommodate new hybrid ways of working.

Only 43% of employees are confident that company information is safe when they’re working from home.

Clearly, most businesses have some technology-enablement work to do to close the gap between their hybrid workplace aspirations and outcomes.

Wellbeing

Beyond the required technical tools, organizations need to look more broadly at how to support employees working from home. Although health and safety requirements and regulations vary in different countries, there are best practices organizations can follow when developing, communicating and implementing policies for remote and home-workers.

For example, Acas the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Services in the UK, recommends that home-working policies should include how people will be set up to work from home, how the employer will carry out risk assessments of their employee’s work and workplace, and who will provide and pay for equipment.

However, the findings of our Report reveal that generally, allocations for equipping home offices are inadequate, leaving employees to fill the gaps with their own (not necessarily approved) solutions – which may introduce risk, from both a cybersecurity and health and safety standpoint.

While organizations are leveraging analytics (such as running voice of the employee surveys and tracking employees’ use of and satisfaction with systems), it appears that these interventions may not be giving them a multi-dimensional view of employee engagement, wellbeing and overall employee experience.

After all, measuring the adoption and use of collaboration and other digital tools is only valuable if you understand the sentiment behind the data and have a structured process for regularly reviewing and acting on feedback.

A 360-degree view of the hybrid workplace

Here’s where we believe that workplace analytics can play a role in assisting organizations in collecting, analyzing, organizing and sharing knowledge across the distributed enterprise.

Workplace analytics technology lets you gather more granular data about your people and how and when they’re working (rather than simply where they’re working) and interrogate it more deeply than ever before. For example, it allows you to understand:

  • How much time people or teams are spending in meetings
  • The volume and frequency of email and chat exchanges
  • Who’s regularly working overtime or over weekends or logging on late in the evenings to respond to messages
  • The nature, frequency and efficacy of employees’ interactions with their line managers

These insights can be used by both IT and human resources teams to identify areas for improvement and investment. And because the process of data-gathering is continuous, you can reassess your workplace every few months and establish a cycle of continuous improvement.

Gauging employee sentiment

Beyond technology and productivity insights, another important topic for modern organizations is to measure employee engagement by introducing new mechanisms for organizations to get a true sense of how their people are feeling about their jobs – something that’s particularly important given the new dynamics that hybrid/remote workplace scenarios have ushered in. It goes deeper and broader than traditional annual or bi-annual employee satisfaction surveys. Too often, by the time the results of such surveys are analyzed, shared and acted upon, it’s almost time to run the next survey.

Workplace analytics closes the gap between insight and action.

Rather than providing a point-in-time view of employee sentiment, it’s possible to deliver richer, more contextual and more current insights. These solutions allow you to set up and distribute short, targeted and highly customized snap-surveys to departments or teams on a daily or weekly basis. The best thing is that they automate away all the time and effort involved in gathering, analyzing and synthesizing the feedback you receive. You can then use these findings as input into the decisions and investments you make in your technology, people policies and any other areas needing improvement.

While this all sounds good on paper, the best workplace analytics results are realized when an organization tailors its integrations to the core business systems (HR platforms, sales platforms, etc.). For example, by integrating your workplace analytics solution with your sales CRM and with your collaboration cloud, you could ensure that the amount of time and effort your salespeople are spending on customer-focused meetings and emails is commensurate with the revenue that you’re generating from those customers.

Here, it makes sense to engage with specialist workplace analytics consultants to ensure that your environment is configured to deliver maximum return from your investment in this area.

Final thoughts

One word of caution: in a business environment that’s facing an unprecedented skills shortage, you need to be intentional about positioning your workplace analytics as a positive intervention – for both the organization and your people.

Nobody wants to feel spied on or hovered over. People are most responsive and do their best work when they feel empowered and trusted. This is where the value of regular user awareness and training and ongoing, transparent feedback and updates to your employee base can’t be understated. Importantly, you need to be sure that people understand that the data you gather is aggregated and anonymized – so no information about a particular person or manager is ever revealed.

If you’d like to learn more about NTT’s workplace analytics capabilities, why not get in touch and speak to one of our team?

Max Sanna

Massimo Sanna

Principal Solutions Architect, MNCS