The era of hybrid work is all about flexibility. Teams, individuals, and companies finding the best ways for them to work, whether they’re remote or on-site.
But greater flexibility doesn’t mean that hybrid offices should be a scene out of the Wild West where anything goes. Workplace leaders must constantly strive to create clear policies and guidelines and use data analytics to inform any adaptations.
In this article, we’ll explore why workplace analytics are critical for hybrid workplaces, how they benefit you, and how to use them effectively.
What Does Hybrid Mean for Workplaces and Workforces?
Hybrid work refers to a flexible scheduling policy that aims to improve employee performance and satisfaction by allowing them to work where they prefer based on what they need to do. They can be in-office for meetings and collaborative work, and remote for individual, focused work.
There are numerous benefits to hybrid work, but it also has come with some challenges for companies still trying to implement it. Research from Gallup revealed that:
- Hybrid work takes more effort from employees and companies to coordinate resources and scheduling between remote and on-site employees. On-site meeting rooms and conference rooms need to be equipped for seamless collaboration between remote and in-office employees.
- Company culture is harder to build and maintain in hybrid workplaces. Remote employees often feel disconnected from their coworkers and managers.
- Remote workers don’t always have the resources and equipment they need to be fully productive.
As the researchers noted, however, “the top challenges of hybrid work are far less prevalent than the top advantages. This indicates that the greatest advantages of hybrid work substantially outweigh the biggest challenges.”
That means it’s critical to move past wondering if hybrid makes sense and gathering data to find the right way to apply it to your company.
Common Hybrid Work Models
Research from Zippia shows that 74 percent of U.S.-based companies are using or plan to use a hybrid work model. But hybrid work refers to many different ways of working. Here are some of the common hybrid work models companies are rolling out.
- Office-centric. Employees spend most of their time working onsite, with the option to work remote occasionally. This allows for more connection, collaboration, and engagement, but limits companies to hiring in specific geographic areas and takes some flexibility away from employees.
- Remote-first. Employees spend most of their time working remotely, with occasional visits into an office for specific occasions. With this model, companies cut their overhead since they can reduce their physical spaces, though it can make communication and collaboration more difficult.
- Flexible hybrid. Employees can decide when they want to be onsite or remote on any given day or week. If they need to collaborate or meet with their teams, they can go onsite. If they need to do heads-down work, they can opt for remote work. This gives people the autonomy to work how they prefer, but does make it difficult to plan the logistics of an office, and employees who choose to be in-office more may benefit from favoritism.
- Fixed hybrid. Employees have a predetermined number of required office days each week, and can choose to work remotely for the others. For example, they could have three days onsite and two remote. The schedule can be company-wide or set by individual department or team leads. This gives office managers, employees, and leaders more predictability around resourcing and attendance.
Even though hybrid work is essentially a broad spectrum of work arrangements, it’s clear that it’s the new norm. That means workplace leaders are feeling the pressure to be more data-driven as they determine the ideal arrangement for their specific needs. That’s where workplace analytics come in.
Want to dive deeper? Check out our article on hybrid work models and schedules.
What Are Workplace Analytics For Hybrid Environments?
At a high level, workplace analytics are insights and data that make it easier to measure and assess your workforce and organization across multiple dimensions, such as:
- Employee productivity and performance
- Workforce effectiveness
- Employee satisfaction
- Space utilization
- Office utilization, activity, and attendance
- Resource needs
- Management needs
Gathering this data allows workplace leaders to proactively address problems and find new opportunities to engage and support employees and leaders alike.
How Workplace Analytics Benefit Hybrid Workplaces
Workplace analytics are an especially powerful tool for hybrid workplaces. Hybrid work requires offices to facilitate different types of work, be more flexible and adaptive to changing needs, and to go beyond the typical one-employee-one-desk setups. It also requires employees to work differently— as the office becomes more of a place for collaborative work, more careful coordination and planning is essential.
Here’s how workplace analytics can make hybrid environments more effective and efficient.
More Accurate Forecasting
Workplace analytics show you critical data around office space usage, resource needs, and space utilization over time. This data shows you how your employee base is growing or contracting at times and gives you solid numbers you can use to plan your physical space needs, resources (for example, needing more desks and monitors if in-office attendance is growing), and your overheads as a whole. Using the right data can help you reduce real estate and operating cost.
Optimized Use of Office Space
You can’t optimize the use of your office space without workplace analytics. Workplace analytics can show you which spaces are over-utilized or underutilized and give you a proactive way to repurpose those spaces. It can show you which types of workstations are in-demand so you can ensure everyone who needs a specific one can have one.
Improved Workplace Experiences
Workplace analytics isn’t just about the financial or HR nitty gritty. Used properly, they can have a remarkable impact on your people. You can use workplace data to detect trends that may indicate something is wrong before anyone actually complains. For example, if a particular meeting room has the perfect setup for hybrid meetings but is consistently in high demand, you can proactively outfit more rooms to match those capabilities.
You can also use a workplace analytics platform to gather feedback directly from employees so they can be heard.
How To Use Workplace Analytics To Optimize Your Hybrid Workplace
Workplace analytics are only as good as the systems they connect with to gather workplace data. The more you can blend data from different systems into a single workplace analytics solution, the greater your ability to analyze the data and make meaningful predictions about the needs of your workplace. Here’s how to gather and use workplace data and create the best hybrid work environment possible.
Determine Which Data You Need
With workplace analytics, it’s not about collecting data just for the sake of it. Before you implement them, you should work with your stakeholders to determine what they want to know about their hybrid workforce. That will help you find the right solution and ensure it can collect the data you need.
In addition, it’s critical to tie your hybrid approach to business outcomes. For example, can you track office attendance and satisfaction across teams and compare it to improved deal sizes from your sales teams, or more Git commits from your engineering teams? Check to make sure any solution you adopt has an analytics API that allows you to send workplace data to your data warehouse so you can analyze it alongside financial and business data.
Track Office Utilization for Right-Sizing
During times of economic uncertainty, businesses need to make sure they’re stretching every dollar as far as it can go. This is especially true when it comes to managing real estate costs. Maintaining an office that’s too big, or losing productivity because your office is overcrowded, can have a serious impact on the bottom line.
That’s why space utilization and management is critical. Space utilization data can show you if large swathes of your office are going unused so you can repurpose the space or determine if you need a new space altogether. It can also show you which spaces are overcrowded, so you can expand or make the case for a new office altogether.
Manage Resources More Effectively
One of the biggest challenges of hybrid work is ensuring people have the workspaces and resources they need to work effectively in the office. A desk booking system can help employees reserve spaces ahead of time and provide workplace leaders with usage data that can help them track which workspaces are most desirable. It can also tell you if desks are going unused so you can repurpose them or sell them.
Additionally, workplace analytics help you manage your spend on office supplies, food and beverages, peripherals like extra cables and monitors, and other things that go into making an office a productive space. With historical data on office attendance, you can forecast your needs and spend appropriately.
Respond More Quickly to Employee Feedback
Nothing can ruin a hybrid work plan more than a poor employee experience. If people feel like going into the office is a chore, or doesn’t allow them to do their best work, they’ll find reasons to avoid it. Going into the office becomes an obligation, not a choice.
Workplace analytics tools can also fit into your employee experience strategy. You can use them to see if people are having trouble accessing key resources or spaces, are having disagreements about shared space policies, are unhappy with the overall layout, or if they’re not attending due to health concerns in the office. While a good hybrid work solution will enable employees to give direct feedback, checking metrics like attendance can clue you into issues before they spiral out of control.
Refine Your Hybrid Approach
Ultimately, there’s no one way to do hybrid work. What works for one company may not work for yours. It’s an iterative process that involves trying new guidelines and policies, checking the data to see what’s working and what’s not, and adjusting. Hybrid has to work for a diverse group of stakeholders, and having clear data in your back pocket can help you advocate for everyone with a more objective stance on what works and what doesn’t.
Create Better Office Experiences With Workplace Analytics
Leveraging workplace analytics as part of a hybrid work platform is the key to creating office spaces that enable all the ways of working your hybrid workforce needs to be successful. Getting the right data can fuel your strategy to create a hybrid office that makes employees want to start using the office—whether there’s an official policy or not.
To learn how workplace analytics can inform your approach to hybrid work, start with Robin today.