The brisk pace of COVID-19 vaccination is changing how companies think about the future workplace. A recent Cushman & Wakefield survey of 40,000 employers revealed a murkier picture than three months ago, with the spectrum now including two flavors of hybrid work: “remote-first hybrid” and “office-first hybrid.”
Some companies have set aggressive return-to-office deadlines. Others are considering more flexible and rotational models where employees would switch more freely between their homes and offices. But as the New York Times recently reported, many companies “are wary of setting hard deadlines” for the return to the office.
Regardless of the movement along the spectrum of remote work options, companies need to ensure that employee digital experience is consistent across workplace models to optimize productivity. This means taking a tailored approach based on department or individual needs, rather than making overarching decisions based the average employee experience.
A Decision-Making Guide to Remote Work Productivity
Version 8 of the Aternity Global Remote Work Productivity Tracker provides a decision-making guide to hybrid work productivity. It examines the digital experience and productivity of employees along this spectrum by comparing a week in the life of an employee working exclusively at home, one working exclusively in the office, and two who split their time between office and remote in a hybrid workplace model.
Comparing a week in the life of these different employees provides insights that can lead to more informed decisions about remote work policies. It tracks how specific types of applications perform at home and in office environments. It shows how employees in different roles use different types of applications in different patterns throughout their day and their week. And based on that usage and performance, it helps identify the types of employee roles that can be more productive working remotely or in the office.
A Week in the Life: a Hybrid Workplace Employee
Here’s an example of one of the profiles covered in the Global Tracker – an administrator who works in the office on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. This individual has a balanced usage of Outlook, Teams, Excel, SAP and heavily uses Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) sessions.
Their SaaS applications generally work as well (or better) remotely, including Outlook, Teams, Excel and Word. The main red flag from a productivity perspective is the clear dip in application performance of SAP being used remotely vs. on-site. If possible, it would make sense for this employee to use SAP more heavily on the days they are in the office to maximize the performance of the application.
Overall, this is a clear example of an employee who can be nearly as productive remotely as in the office, given the applications primarily used perform just as well at home as on-site. If their use of SAP changes for a given time period, it may be worth it for the employee to go into the office to benefit from better performance.
A Week in the Life: an Employee Working Exclusively at Home
In contrast, here’s the application usage and performance of a planning and dispatch expert who works exclusively at home. This employee clearly takes advantage of flexible working hours, choosing to start their days early and finish late in the evenings. They rely on an SAP graphical user interface for Windows for 20 hours a week and use it consistently for the majority of each day.
SAP is not only the most heavily used application. It also performs the worst. And this employee experiences SAP performance that is significantly worse than that of the first employee. Poor home internet or other connectivity issues could explain the difference.
Given the heavy use of SAP, and evidence that it tends to perform better in the office, it is worth considering a change for this employee – whether it be upgrading their home internet or moving them to a hybrid work model.
This employee’s consistent use of applications from day-to-day is something leaders should consider for remote work policies. When an employee uses a consistent set of applications throughout each day of their work week, and those applications perform the same remotely as they do on-site, then they should have more flexibility in choice. In this case, the person is a heavy and regular user of SAP, and it does not perform well remotely, which can truly negatively impact productivity and employee satisfaction.
To put this into context, this employee’s average experience score for SAP indicates that they lose 20 minutes per week simply waiting for the application to respond. This translates to over 17 hours of waiting and employee frustration over the course of a year. Consider the implications if multiple team members at a company were to have the same experience.
Digital experience recommendations for hybrid work productivity
The latest volume of the Global Remote Work Productivity Tracker contains seven specific recommendations for delivering excellent digital experience to employees, including these:
- Beware the “flaw of averages.” Individualize the employee digital experience for the greatest productivity. Audit individual, team and departmental experiences to support better decision-making when it comes to hybrid work policies and understanding the impact on productivity and satisfaction.
- Optimize your technology spend. Gaining visibility into device and application usage and performance enables business leaders to determine the optimal technology investments for their environments. This helps avoid paying for unneeded application licenses and large-scale asset refresh initiatives by tailoring efforts to “fit-for-purpose” requirements for specific individuals.
- Tailor your employee experience goals. Identify specific goals and benchmarks for performance for the organization based on the most critical business applications. Measure the performance of these applications over time to identify opportunities for continuous service improvement.
Best Practices for Employee Digital Experience
According to industry analysts at Forrester, prioritization is the first challenge that companies face when improving employee digital experience. “Most leaders don’t do the necessary prework to ensure that they’re investing in the right things to improve experience.” (source: Forrester Best Practices: Technology Experience Management. by Andrew Hewitt and Jonathan Roberts April 8, 2021)
Aternity enables customers to address this challenge with the Aternity Digital Experience Index (DXI). Aternity DXI automatically identifies digital experience hot spots across your enterprise impacting employees and customers, then sets you on a path to action and improvement. Only Aternity DXI enables you to tailor your goals based on industry benchmarks, instantly associate performance gaps to lost productivity or revenue, and drill into the worst performing areas for root cause analysis and rapid remediation. Watch this short video to see Aternity DXI in action:
The Advantages of Aternity DXI
Organizations are focused on improving digital experience for their employees and customers, but they lack information on where to invest to produce the biggest business impact. Monitoring tools flood them with an overwhelming volume of technical telemetry that is disconnected from business outcomes. And companies lack dynamic access to industry benchmarks to gauge their own digital dexterity at any point in time relative to their industry peers.
Without these insights, IT cannot properly prioritize digital experience improvement projects, communicate their value in business terms, nor foster effective on-going improvement efforts.
Other Digital Experience Management approaches fail to enable companies to address these issues.
- Fixed and inflexible analytics: Prevents companies from tailoring their goals to their own priorities. For some companies, business-critical applications like SAP are the main focus. For others, SaaS applications play a bigger role. Companies need flexibility when prioritizing digital experience improvement efforts.
- No real-time insight into industry benchmarks: Precludes companies from comparing against their peers. Continuous service improvement efforts naturally rely on measuring “what good looks like” relative to other companies in the market.
- Disconnected from business outcomes: Inhibits communication about the impact of IT performance to business partners like Human Resources. When establishing remote work policies, business leaders rely on metrics like employee productivity.
- Limited coverage of business applications: Provides an incomplete picture of digital experience. As the “week in the life” profiles show, different employee roles rely on different business critical applications. And they all must deliver excellent digital experience.
Get Started Today
To learn more about the other data and recommendations in our remote work decision-making guide, download the entire Remote Work Productivity Tracker here.
If you’re not yet an Aternity customer, you can explore these capabilities by registering for a free trial of Aternity running in your environment. You’ll see how your organization compares to the market with the benchmarking insights from millions of end points monitored in via Aternity SaaS. You’ll see how your Service Desk can drive down costs and improve service with AI-driven automated remediation. And you’ll get a view of employee experience for every app running in your environment – even SaaS and Shadow IT.