With the acceleration of remote work brought on by Covid-19, many organizations quickly realized they needed new ways to understand and measure productivity. However, the truth is, we’ve needed new ways to think about productivity for years, but may not have realized it until the forced disruption brought on by the pandemic. We shouldn’t mislead ourselves into thinking that when Covid-19 constraints go away, so will the challenges posed by our highly digital environment.
Organizations have long had a false sense of security that if they can see employees at their desks, then they can keep a pulse on productivity. That’s simply not the case, and there’s much more to productivity in the digital age than just being at a computer.
To really understand and improve productivity, you need to know:
- How teams are investing their time to assess if that aligns with priorities and roles
- How much time is spent on focused work vs. in meetings, or in collaboration apps
- Which apps commonly cause distractions that interrupt focused work
- Where working hours are spiking or consistently high so you can help avoid burnout
- How efficient individuals are with their time – i.e. how much of their screen time is spent on productive activities
The truth is, productivity measurement and workplace analytics are more essential now than ever– regardless of whether teams are working remotely, together in the same office, or some mixture of operating models.
Objective, data-driven productivity measurement
Even in an office with direct line of sight to your team, it is impossible to gather a holistic view of actual productivity. Proximity bias can be misleading and observations of arrival and departure time, desk-based work, and collaboration with colleagues are surface level. These perceptions are also subjective, often based on other factors not directly connected to team productivity.
With a workplace analytics platform like ActivTrak, you have an objective view of productive time, focus time, burnout risk and more, based on actual data vs. subjective manager perception. So, you can ensure your most productive team members are recognized for their efforts, and provide coaching and training to those who have room to improve.
More effective headcount and resource planning
One of the most important (and challenging) parts of being a manager is advocating to your leadership for the resources your team needs to be successful. When it’s time for headcount and resource planning, having actual data to understand workloads, utilization levels, burnout risk and productivity can be extremely helpful, especially when that data is collected consistently across all teams. With actual data, leaders can understand where the biggest resource gaps exist and ensure that headcount is added where it is needed most.
Keep a pulse on employee engagement
In a recent survey by Brandon Hall Group, 80% of organizations indicated that increased productivity is a key measure of employee engagement, but only 8% feel that they can actually measure productivity.
Keeping a pulse on employee engagement has several benefits:
- Proactively check in with team members before they start seeking a new job
- Assess where you can offer projects more aligned to team members skills and interests
- Fully realize the productivity potential of your teams
- Help everyone feel invested in the company mission, milestones and success
Many companies use periodic surveys or manager perception to assess engagement. But, these strategies only capture data at a specific point in time and can be subjective.
With a workplace analytics platform like ActivTrak, you have continuous measurement of productivity which helps provide a much more complete picture of employee engagement.
Experiment and learn how to work more effectively
With a workplace analytics solution like ActivTrak, you can establish baselines for productivity and focus time, and collaborate with your team on experiments to help everyone improve. Here at ActivTrak for example, we have experimented with “Focus Fridays” where we try to avoid scheduling internal meetings as well as “Focus Blocks” where people block out specific times each day for focused work.
Using our own actual data, we found that the teams that carved out Focused Blocks each day were able to gain an average of 1 additional hour of productive work time per day, while those who carved out an entire day for focused work saw only a 0.4 hr increase in productive work time per day.
Our ability to share data like this with individuals and teams and engage everyone in the process of experimentation has benefited us not only in terms of productivity, but also in terms of building a culture of transparency, collaboration, and continuous improvement.
Assess where individuals and teams are most productive
Many organizations are still reluctant to embrace remote work on a large scale, even after operating that way through the pandemic. But, many employees value the time saved by not having to commute and find that they can be more productive without the distractions of an office environment.
With a workplace analytics platform like ActivTrak, remote work can be a win-win for employees and organizations alike. Organizations can save costs, while still having the peace of mind that expectations for working hours are being met. And, employees can enjoy the benefits of working from home, along with access to their own productivity metrics to understand and improve their work habits.
And, in recent months, offering remote work has become a significant competitive advantage in hiring as recent surveys have shown that as many as 97% of employees do not want to return to an office full-time*. Hiring and retaining top talent is important for every organization, and offering remote work is going to continue to be a key advantage in the war for talent.
*From Forbes article “5 Statistics Employers Need to Know about the Remote Workforce”
The workplace is changing, and how we think about and measure productivity needs to change along with it. Whether teams are working in a traditional office setting, from home, or a hybrid combination, there is no substitute for having actual data to understand productivity, focus, burnout risk and other key organizational health metrics. And, organizations that make this data available to individuals and managers alike can gain even more benefit by engaging everyone in the process of continuous productivity improvement.
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ActivTrak helps companies unlock productivity potential. Our award-winning workforce analytics and productivity management software provides expert insights that empower people, optimize processes, and maximize technology. Additionally, with data sourced from more than 9,000 customers and over 450,000 users, ActivTrak’s Workforce Productivity Lab is a global center for ground-breaking research and expertise that helps companies embrace and embody the future of work.