Manager, People Analytics Research Leader
Deloitte Consulting LLP
As organizations continue to explore and evolve their remote work practices, people analytics can be a major differentiator. The three approaches covered within this article can help organizations use people analytics to optimize their existing remote work practices, sense and act upon evolving needs, and improve future remote work strategies.
1. Use analytics to optimize current remote work practices.
Remote work requires virtual collaboration. This includes seeing and speaking to each other through web-based tools; sharing and editing documents through a teaming / file-sharing platform; and, of course, communicating through email, text, and instant messaging. But many organizations are not taking advantage of the data collected via each of these digital collaboration means—information that can provide valuable insights into how organizations can monitor and improve remote work practices.
Administrative data, for example, can prove very fruitful. Information such as number of active users, number of newly registered users, time spent, and features used can be combined with human resource information system (HRIS) data and leadership expectations to identify and act upon areas of underutilization. Additionally, training programs that address common issues or technology / feature tips deployed to the most applicable audiences can be generated by data on devices used, feature usage, and technical failures as identified by the data.
Call to Action
- Define the expectations for remote workers, leaders, and teams. Consider how they should use virtual collaboration tools and interact with others (e.g., through meetings, file sharing, live-document editing).
- Utilize the administrative features of virtual collaboration tools to gain insights into whether the reality of remote work is meeting expectations and determine where gaps exist.
- Target actions on which to follow up accordingly. Provide training, in-the-flow tips, coaching, buddy teams, and user groups to share tricks and leading practices to help workers use remote working tools more effectively.
2. Use analytics to sense and act upon evolving remote work needs.
Remote work is not new—organizations have leveraged remote work practices for decades. Therefore, everyday workers are well-equipped to provide insights into virtual collaboration requirements and accessibility needs. Organizations can gain insights from workers' experiences by creating listening architectures, which are channels to understanding stakeholder concerns and perspectives.
Through this approach, organizations can continuously collect information on remote work concerns and lessons learned. Those who can act upon these insights can use the information to provide the workforce with actionable tools through methods such as communities of practice groups, intranet sites, and personalized dashboards.
Call to Action
- Determine and prioritize what types of remote working insights (e.g., how leaders can manage remote teams, how remote workers can feel more connected, tips and tricks on virtual collaboration tools) would most benefit your organization.
- Develop a listening architecture (e.g., pulse surveys, online-sharing tools, remote work–related questions integrated into current engagement surveys) to collect these insights.
- Determine how to prioritize, act upon, and monitor actions based on these insights.
- Create a way to distribute these insights and encourage dialogues between leaders and workers.
3. Use analytics to improve future remote work practices.
Over time, organizations will need to reflect on remote work learnings and opportunities. Organizations will need to ask themselves if remote work has been effective, evaluate how mindsets have shifted on what is possible through remote work, and determine how performance during remote work influenced certain roles or eligibility requirements. Analytical methods can be used to help inform and evolve future remote-work planning.
One such method involves the use of comparison analyses to measure results between remote and nonremote groups performing similar work. During these analyses, organizations can identify differences in productivity, engagement, and retention. The compared results can help improve remote practices, redefine remote-role expectations, and adjust eligibility requirements.
Organizations can also use analytics to define and prioritize remote work opportunities. For example, text analyses on job description responsibilities can be used to assess key words around what “cannot be” remote (e.g., requiring contact with physical goods or in-person interactions). The extent to which organizations are acting upon remote work opportunities can also be measured. This includes measuring the availability of remote work options (e.g., the number of job postings that offer remote work), trends in utilization (e.g., the number of workers in full or partially remote roles), and / or how many workers have been moved to or kept in remote roles.
Call to Action
- Define what remote work success looks like (e.g., productivity, customer satisfaction, engagement, and talent access), and use analytics to measure these factors and inform remote practices.
- Evaluate remote work opportunities and determine which roles may be most viable for remote work.
- Monitor and report on work utilization rates to determine if your organization is acting on new or continuing remote work opportunities in line with remote work strategies / expectations.