What sounds like a better plan for the summer: working from home, or commuting to a packed office? Would you prefer dropping in to the office once in a while for an all-hands, or sitting in front of your computer from nine to five? New work models keep emerging. Some businesses have already introduced a four-day workweek. Others are testing full-time remote work. Where we should be working is a polarizing issue that sparks fiery debates both within companies and in public opinion.
An HR department should play a mediating role, equipped with irrefutable evidence and hard data. The best way for HR to gather data on how a company deals with the transformation from one working mode to another is by conducting controlled experiments. At Sloneek, we believe that summertime works well as a period of trial and error.
Why is summer great for introducing new solutions at your company?
Regional differences aside, summer is different from the rest of the year: work is slower, people come and go for vacations, and many parents need to work from home because of school breaks and limited babysitting options. Since the management is often away, there are fewer meetings, too.
For managers, having direct control over their team and being able to communicate face-to-face are key benefits of in-person work. With so many people away, though, these benefits are no longer at play. Being at the office five days a week simply makes less sense during the summer. If you want to test hybrid work at your company, do it in July or August when there’s more wiggle room for errors.
Just remember that in order to be able to conduct and evaluate your experiments properly, you’ll need to set clear rules and relevant metrics. A thorough work mode transformation that lacks strategy and direction from the HR department is a huge mistake; still, this happens very often when going hybrid. There are companies out there who tried to introduce hybrid work and failed so badly that the management never even wanted to talk about it again, let alone give it another try.
One thing is certain: problems will arise along the way: it’s only natural when introducing deep changes. But if you aren’t able to identify their cause and scope, you can only blame yourself.
Basic metrics are enough. Every data mix is unique.
There are many ways to measure hybrid work efficiency. On the plus side, basic efficiency metrics are intuitive and easy to figure out. If your HR strategy is data-driven, you already have all the necessary metrics at hand. It’s up to an HR specialist which data they’ll use in the mix and in what range. If you like simple and proven solutions, we have an example of a typical data mix for you.
In order to assess how (and if) the results change over time, you’ll need to evaluate your data BEFORE conducting the experiment. Just to be sure you compare apples to apples, your data must come from similar time periods: for instance, two summer months. The best case scenario is to compare July (with non-remote work still in place) with August (when employees went hybrid).
How to measure efficiency
Actual hours worked: Some companies track the hours their employees actually dedicate to work, either with tracking software or with time sheets. Others don’t bother. Yet, time tracking is one of the key indicators for measuring efficiency. As far as completing routine tasks is concerned, it’ll help you understand whether employees take less or more time in hybrid mode. In order to be able to measure transformation effects, you must track employee time, if only in terms of basic time blocks.
Time spent in meetings: This is another easy-to-measure indicator. How much time do your employees spend in regular internal meetings? With the hybrid mode, the amount of time dedicated to meetings tends to grow disproportionately, at the expense of other tasks. These must be postponed for later, often after hours, which disrupts people’s work-life balance.
Task completion: Another indicator that will help you assess your company’s effectiveness after going hybrid is how efficiently people complete their tasks. This can be based on different factors, such as the cost of completing a task, the time it takes, or how well it has been performed. Either way, even if other numbers are going down, great results in task completion efficiency are crucial.
How happy your employees are with their work mode: Let them score their level of satisfaction from 1 to 10, anonymously. You’ll get the gist of how they feel about the ongoing change. When evaluating this, don’t forget about the unavoidable bias every transformation assessment brings: if there’s no change at all, the results tend to yield responses more positive than the truth. If the change is deep, the sentiment worsens.
Energy levels and circadian rhythm: These indicators are widely neglected when considering your employees’ work drives. How can you measure this? Let your people score (again, 1 to 10) how they feel about their energy level during the day. Alternatively, let them choose out of several emotional descriptions, such as “I’m feeling elevated,” “I’m deeply concentrated,” or “I’m slightly tired” if they feel more comfortable with this way of evaluating. This should take a week or more, to get representative results.
How people feel about their current work mode: This should be an open question in a company survey. Ask your employees directly how they feel about their current work mode. Additionally (or alternatively, if people at your company aren’t particularly comfortable with sharing open negative feedback) ask them what they think their colleagues would say. How is the atmosphere at the office?
Take it easy.
If your pilot tests bring positive results, you might be tempted to go hybrid for real, starting tomorrow. Even if everything looks great, hold your horses.
First off, introducing hybrid work must be entirely consensual, with all managers on board. The implementation must be preceded with and supported by a long-term information campaign and open discussion, with all pros and cons fairly explained.
Positive test results may be a sign the company’s going in the right direction, but by all means aren’t enough for an authoritarian decision to go hybrid right away. You need to be fully prepared.
What are companies going hybrid most afraid of?
Why are managers having nightmares about their company going hybrid? Most of their concerns are related to productivity and employee engagement going down. Consider the results of an HRIS survey conducted by Sloneek in Q1 2023 on 170 Czech companies (small to medium to large):
- 39.2% of managers were afraid of declining productivity, lower employee engagement, time theft (employees not dedicating their paid work hours to work), and poor team coordination.
- For 24.4%, communication issues were the biggest concern.
- 19.5% were afraid that interpersonal relations at the company would deteriorate.
- 17.1% worried that their supervisors would demand even more from them.