Despite some employers treating work from home as a massive, temporary social experiment and then calling for a return to the office, the statistics show that remote work is here to stay. From financial to psychological, it has tangible and proven benefits to both employers and employees.
A Gallup survey in June 2022 found that among remote-capable workers, the hybrid model continues to gain popularity as the preferred option for the majority. Entirely on-site work seems to be past its pre-pandemic heyday as it continues to trend downward as hybrid gains popularity. “More than 90% of 70 million employees say they don’t want to return to the office full time.”
But remote work doesn’t come without its challenges.
Challenges Presented by Remote Teams
- Managing priorities
- Communication and collaboration
- Visibility of work
- Time and task tracking
- Adjustment of work styles and execution
- Clarity on roles and responsibilities
- Performance evaluation
Given these challenges for both managers and employees alike, the new hybrid/remote work model demands reimagining employer branding, organizational culture, and employee experience.
How People Analytics Can Help Track Metrics That Matter for a Remote Workforce
In the absence of literal oversight, now more than ever, data-driven insights must lead the way in understanding how to manage, develop, and retain remote teams. People data can be the key that unlocks employers’ knowledge of factors affecting employee well-being, productivity, levels of agility in remote teams, and opportunities to optimize work.
Here are four areas in which you can use people analytics to manage your remote teams better and address the challenges they present.
- Communication and collaboration
How productive are they, really?
This is the question plaguing leaders’ minds and what gives them pause when deciding to implement a remote or hybrid work policy. They need an effective, reliable way to track productivity while helping those employees to be more productive.
It’s imperative to negotiate and communicate clearly defined roles, responsibilities, and KPIs from the start. These will form the basis of the productivity metrics extracted from your people data. You’ll need to be transparent about the metrics you intend to track, so there is no ambiguity around expectations.
Consider if time tracking is the best way of measuring productivity. Do you want to measure inputs or outputs? Do you want to be results-oriented? Either way, measuring outcomes will solve the problem of a lack of trust often behind micromanaging. Focus on the quality and timeliness of tasks instead of when and how they are done.
The right technology tools will empower teams, aid collaboration, optimize performance, and provide a happy medium between over-surveillance and transparency.
You must share the data you gather from the tech tools with employees. With a continuous feedback system, you can identify gaps or lags and flag them for improvement.
A big part of management is motivating employees. Remote working makes that difficult. To compensate for that shortcoming, employee listening becomes critical for providing support and getting ahead of any problems that may arise.
Pulse surveys are preferable to traditional annual engagement surveys. They comprise targeted, frequent check-ins to keep on top of issues relevant to remote work, such as flexibility, collaboration, connectivity, and workflows. Gathering this data in brief but regular inquiries gives employees a voice and employers the opportunity to see what’s working and what isn’t.
Communication and Collaboration
Beyond simply keeping teams connected, tools such as Microsoft Teams or Slack ensure crucial relationships are maintained and collaboration encouraged.
Organizational Network Analysis (ONA) analyzes networking and collaboration patterns between individuals and amongst teams by looking at the flow of information to identify gaps and see who works well together and who may be isolated. With this data insight, employers can take decisive action to improve team building.
Don’t assume that the comforts of home make employees more comfortable, therefore, less productive. Studies have shown that some tend to put in more than the required forty hours per week. Since the workday is not as clearly defined, they take fewer breaks and work later. This means they are just as, if not more, prone to overwork and burnout.
Managers need to be more alert to signs of employee burnout. Without visual clues, they must rely on data (such as absence trends) to detect changes in well-being that may affect performance or changes in performance because of a decline in well-being.
The surge in remote working has made people analytics vital in understanding your teams, their needs, and how they work. In the absence of observational evidence, data, and the insights it provides become a necessary priority for monitoring, albeit unobtrusively.
KPIs that apply to on-site teams may vary from that of remote teams. Leadership practices and management styles will also have to adjust to the new arrangement so that the employer maintains the quality of employee experience both in and outside the office.
Successful remote working depends on a combination of employer trust, employee accountability, and optimal usage of technology through data with people analytics.
Are you ready to succeed in the future of hybrid work?
Pixentia is a full-service technology company dedicated to helping clients solve business problems, improve the capability of their people, and achieve better results.