On April 14, 2021, Aternity sponsored a webinar with 451 Research, part of S&P Global Market Intelligence, on the future of work. In the session, “How the future of work is reshaping employee engagement and productivity,” Conner Forrest, Senior Research Analyst at 451, covered a variety of key points from recent research. You can catch a full replay of the webinar, just by registering here.
Key conclusions from the webinar:
- Remote work is here to stay
- Technology tooling plays a key role in employee engagement & satisfaction
- Data and visibility are needed to improve work culture and productivity
Be afraid. Be very afraid
Behind those conclusions are some scary statistics. This is just my opinion of course. My impression of some of the research conclusions is that sub-title of the webinar could well have been “Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.” Particularly for those who are part of Digital Workplace or End User Services teams.
If you’re not a fan of the 1986 remake of “The Fly,” with Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis, you might want to watch the movie. It’s true – I may be exaggerating just a bit. But if the statistics aren’t scary to you, they should at least be a sobering reminder of the importance of digital experience to employee productivity.
I’ll highlight a couple of those data points, as well as a summary of the poll results from the webinar, and how Aternity helps companies address some of the major challenges in ensuring engagement and productivity in this new era of hybrid remote work.
Background on the research
Some of the data that was shown in the webinar comes from 451 Research Voice of the Enterprise: Workforce Productivity & Collaboration, Employee Engagement 2020, published Dec 11, 2020 by Rosanna Jimenez and Chris Marsh. 451 subscribers can access the research here. As background, the Voice of the Enterprise: Workforce Productivity & Collaboration surveys a panel of mid-level and senior professional decision-makers to provide subscribers with actionable data and insight to track critical workforce transformation dynamics. The Employee Engagement survey wave was conducted from October 7 through November 6, 2020 and represents approximately 1,000 completes from a worldwide base of IT end-user decision-makers.
The future of work is likely to be hybrid
As COVID-19 vaccines are rolled out across the world, companies are making plans for an eventual return to the office. Much of what is being written in the press indicates that a hybrid approach is likely to be the prevalent model in the coming year. The first poll question of the webinar indicates a strong agreement with this, among the several hundred registrants. The vast majority expect some combination of working in the office and working remotely or at home. When establishing these policies, companies are considering not just employee preferences, but also the nature of the work, and the technology stack on which the work is based.
The impact of remote work on productivity
Next, we asked our webinar audience about their views of their productivity since the start of the pandemic. Poll results indicate that attendees have adapted well to remote work. More than half said they’re more productive, probably due to eliminating commutes to the office and leveraging flexible work schedules. Almost one-third said they’ve experienced no change in productivity. The benefits of no commute and flexible hours can be offset by responsibilities for child education and care.
The role of end-user technology in the future of work
The first caution area to highlight from the 451 research that Conner presented is around the role of end-user technology in the future of work. According to 451 Research’s Voice of the Enterprise: Workforce Productivity & Collaboration, Employee Engagement 2020, only 51% of employees say they have the tech to be as productive working from home as they are in the office.
The question that was asked was:
Which – if any – of the following statements apply to the tools you use as part of your day-to-day work? Please select all that apply. (n=830)
Why do I find this statistic scary? Well, it says that only about half of the workforce feels that their tools – the technology stack they rely on to do their jobs – enables them to be as productive working remotely as they are in the office. Since many companies are planning hybrid work models for 2021 and the future, this is a major consideration for productivity. Digital workplace teams must determine what steps they can take to raise this feeling of productivity.
End-user technology is about employee retention, not just employee productivity
As frightening as I find that first data point, this next one is even scarier. From the same survey, 451 Research found that 34% would leave their current jobs for the same job but with better technology.
Here’s the exact question that was asked:
How likely would you be to accept a new job if the only way it differed from your current job was better availability of devices, applications, and other productivity tools? Base: All respondents (n=1,033)
Think about this for a second. If the data applies to your organization, then about a third of your colleagues would leave your company for the same job at a different company, only because of better applications, devices or productivity tools. To me, this is a shocking statistic, and one that has direct implications for digital workplace teams and application teams, not to mention human resources and the line of business. Technology plays a key role not just in employee engagement, satisfaction, and productivity, but also in retention. And if it plays that big a role in employee retention, it has a major impact on operational expenses because of the lag time in searching for new employees and ramping them up to speed.
Five ways Aternity helps address the challenges of the future of work
All of these trends together illustrate the importance of having visibility into the digital experience of your employees. The prevalence of remote work as part of the future of work. The effect of technology performance on employee productivity, satisfaction, and indeed retention. The complexities in ensuring satisfactory technology experience for employees working away from the controlled office environment and subject to performance of their Wi-Fi, their laptops, internet service provider, and SaaS applications. The Aternity Digital Experience Management platform has the capabilities needed to address these challenges.
1. Measure ACTUAL end user experience
Aternity differs from other approaches to digital experience management. Some vendors simulate user experience through synthetic monitoring. Others rely on measuring employee sentiment to get a qualitative indication of employee experience. Others infer user experience by measuring related technology metrics like latency or device CPU as a proxy for employee experience. All of these approaches are useful in some scenarios. Aternity measures actual end user experience by tracking the response time that employees actually see when they use their applications in the course of a business workflow. With Aternity, digital workplace teams can see just how long it takes a remotely working contact center agent to look up a customer record. And Aternity alerts you when these response times differ from what is expected, so you can quickly isolate and resolve the root cause. Watch this short video to see Aternity in action.
2. Measure actual employee experience for EVERY application
And, as shown in the second scary statistic above, employees care about their technology performance in general. Most employees use dozens of different applications every day in the course of their jobs. They all have to deliver excellent digital experience, no matter whether the employee is working at home or office.
Unlike other vendors, Aternity measures actual employee experience for every application in the enterprise portfolio – web, SaaS, shadow IT, thick-client, running on virtual, etc. With Aternity, IT gets a complete view of digital experience.
3. Get insight into the employee experience of your remote workforce
In a Work-From-Everywhere enterprise, business and IT leaders must address fundamental questions around whether the workforce has the right IT resources to get their jobs done. Device upgrades are one thing, but other considerations include Wi-Fi connectivity, VPN capacity, and application performance.
If you’re interested in a deeper look at this question, catch the on-demand webinar on the new KPIs to manage the remote work experience.
4. Ensure quality performance of collaboration apps
Collaboration apps have been the lifeline keeping remotely working employees connected to one another, their customers and their partners. In fact, as Aternity has shown in its series of Global Remote Work Productivity trackers, typical enterprise relies on multiple collaboration tools. While we all seem to spend hours on Zoom calls, Microsoft Teams is in fact the overall leader in share of usage, at least among Aternity customers. To ensure a productive and engaged workforce, IT must ensure quality performance of ALL of the collaboration applications used. Watch this short video to see how companies use Aternity to manage collaboration application usage and performance.
5. Device performance and connectivity
One of the biggest headaches for IT when it comes to supporting a remote workforce is that several factors affecting device performance and connectivity are beyond their control. Home Wi-Fi performance is a major factor. Perhaps the employee is too far from the access point. Or there are several walls or bookcases between their laptop and the modem. Network connectivity via the internet service provider also has an affect on employee experience. Aternity and Intel are partnering together to address these issues. Watch this video to see how.
Get started with Aternity today!
If you’re not yet an Aternity customer, you can explore how we help you address the IT challenges of the Work-From-Everywhere enterprise. You can get started today 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.