While telecommuting and work-from-home options continue to be adopted by a large and growing percentage of employers, several have moved to reverse the trend of work-at-home employment, forcing employees back into corporate offices.
For many employees, the flexibility to work from home is much desired. In a study from Indeed, nearly half of employees surveyed said a prospective employer’s remote work policy is considered an important factor when looking for a job.
Additionally, of those who wish their current companies allowed remote work scenarios, 37% have considered looking for a job that does, and 14% are actively looking. What’s more, 40% of employees said they’d consider taking a pay cut for the option to work remotely.
Per Gallup, 53% of employees surveyed say they will switch jobs if a new employer offers them the option to work from home at least some of the time, while 31% of employees said they’d switch jobs if a new employer offered them the option to work from home.
What’s the Problem with Remote Work?
With these myriad benefits, why do companies resist work from home? Many employers struggle with work-from-home policies because managers are unable to discern the productivity level of remote workers. They wonder: If employees are far away from the watchful eye of management, might they be distracted, taking too many breaks, and/or “phoning it in”?
Expanding Analytics into the Remote Workplace
Understanding how to optimize employee effort and output (productivity) is essential, and a new breed of analytics solutions called “people analytics” enables organizations to observe overall work trends and productivity of employees—whether they are in the office or working remotely.
While productivity has been measured by various ways and means in the past, according to Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends research, companies are redoubling their efforts via the use of people analytics—which researchers say is one of the top 10 global trends for employers.
People analytics automates the collection of digital signals emitted from work phone and personal computer (PC) interactions and combines them with powerful analytics that enable senior executives to make better decisions around their biggest investment—their human capital. Organizations can now automate the reporting of work patterns, time and activity, and create baselines of expected work output to set goals for teams to achieve, providing the data and visibility needed to measure team engagement and productivity.
People analytics practices help organizations strike a balance between autonomy and accountability. As such, it’s a vital tool that enables work-from-home scenarios to “work” for both employee and employer.
It also can provide new tools to support other key HR objectives, such as employee wellness, work/life balance, employee engagement, and retention. Feedback loops enable employees to self-report their mental and motivational state at work, opening up opportunities for better management and mentorship. Gamification features give managers new ways to engage and motivate remote team members to achieve new and improved levels of performance. Organizations can also ascertain which roles are better suited for a work-from-home environment—e.g., those that require high-focused work and less in-person collaboration, perhaps.
It’s time for organizations to “get real” about enabling and empowering employees to work from home. By looking at real data, organizations can bypass operating on mere assumptions or “gut feel” about work effort and productivity—they can move confidently forward putting in place progressive workplace strategies that “work” for both employees and employer.
Khiv Singh is Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing for Sapience Analytics, a vendor of “people analytics” solutions to help companies better organize and use employee time to be more efficient. Sapience Analytics technology is used by more than 120,000 users in over 85 enterprises across 18 countries to move the needle on employee engagement, organizational productivity, and business profitability.