HRHeadStart #41: Hybrid Work Metrics; Collaboration Problems; Importance of Subtraction
The Talent Agenda
Employees around the world have reported “collaboration overload” in recent years. The pandemic and the ensuing world of Hybrid Work exacerbated it. There’s meeting madness (whether in-person or virtual) which actually prevents people from doing productive work.
As more and more companies adopt hybrid work, they have started tracking a slew of metrics around days in office, office facilities utilization, employee sentiments etc. These can provide a macro picture of the transition to hybrid work. We should also develop measurement frameworks to mitigate risks to employee well-being, fairness and productivity as a result of the collaboration overload. Here are some metrics to consider:
Collaboration Time vs. Individual Time vs. Focus Time: We should track how much time are employees and teams spending on collaboration vs. individual work. Plus, it is important to track how much Focus Time do people have i.e. uninterrupted 2-hr (at least) windows for deep work. An over-scheduled calendar and lack of focus time will surely affect well-being, productivity and creativity. A good balance is key.
Meeting Patterns: Apart from tracking time spent in meetings, we could also analyze the size of the groups in meetings. This is important because if you see patterns of large-group meetings being the dominant feature of collaboration, it will likely slow down decision-making and progress.
Work in Personal Time: Email/chat/video volumes after-hours or weekends could be leading indicators of burnout, poor mental health and eventually, attrition.
“Proximity Bias” Metrics: By slicing the data on promotions, rewards and growth opportunities, it would be possible to see if we have built a work environment where onsite and remote work is treated fairly and equitably.
What other metrics would you consider? Let me know by replying to this email.
Collaboration is the essential feature of getting work done. However, as noted above, if projects and meetings involve way too many people than required, we run into problems.
Let’s say that you are working with two other people on a project and for simplification, the probability of success of the project is dependent on the probability of high effort commitment from the team members. If everyone puts in 100% effort, the probability of success of your project is a perfect 1 (100% x 100% x 100%). Now, if each person puts in 98% effort, the project success probability dips to 0.94 (98% x 98% x 98%) (not too bad!). If each person pulls back the effort to 95%, the project success probability dips to 0.85 (still ok, maybe!). However, we often find ourselves working on multiple things concurrently and let’s say our efforts drop to 80%. The project success probability becomes 0.51 i.e. there’s now a 50-50 chance of the project goals being met!
Of course, this is a fairly simple model and there are often more complexities involved. For instance, there may be factors beyond our control like change of project objectives, change in team members etc. which might add more drag on progress.
What this model reveals is that we create more failure points when we add more and more people distracted by multiple work priorities. What it also tells us is that smaller focused teams with adequate individual or focus time combined with anticipatory project management are likely to be more successful.
We have a tendency to keep adding new things to our to-do list. What can you subtract from it to make yourself more productive?