In the workplace, we are faced with a new panorama that requires a lot of information. Data, analysis on them, and obtaining insights that allow us, among other things, to understand the impact and changes generated by teleworking.
Once we have asked ourselves the necessary questions to analyze the reality of telework that we face –at the organizational level, of the work teams, and from the individual point of view–, we must obtain the necessary information to answer them. Later, it would be interesting to define what metrics and indicators can help us study this phenomenon standardized.
How To Obtain Information About Teleworking?
A first approach to the problem consisted of collecting information through questionnaires about the practices implemented by organizations and the status of employees and work teams in different issues (digital skills, work organization, relationships with colleagues, etc.).
This undoubtedly fundamental approach has two main limitations :
- the information collected is self-reported and therefore is subject to different biases; and
- Obtaining them requires a significant effort. The greater, the more extensive the samples of workers to be surveyed.
One way to complement this approach is to study the information present in the systems used for teleworking, from the virtual platforms to which employees connect to the telephone systems. In these systems, various data of great value are stored to describe the different practices in the teleworking environment.
The Fundamental Advantages of Using This Data Are Two:
- The objectivity of the record (although it is also subject to bias); and
- The possibility of analyzing large volumes of data.
On the other hand, among its drawbacks is the technical difficulty associated with analyzing large volumes of data and, above all, the “meaning” of the data obtained. For example, an employee’s self-reported response to a stress questionnaire reflects their stress level, but what can be inferred from the data contained in the systems? What does it mean, for example, that an employee has more or fewer video calls? Greater or less stress?
Even with these unknowns about the interpretation of the available data, we have to face the challenge of using them to generate relevant metrics that allow us to describe how telework is “happening” and have a basis on which to compare different practices, assess corrective actions and study the evolution of the telework situation, among other issues.
Where Do We Start? Metrics and Indicators For Teleworking
The question’s title is pretentious: we have already started and have been working hard on labor force analysis for some time. But maybe a little structure could do us good. And the first thing is to recognize that teleworking, no matter how systematically it has been announced in all institutional reports worldwide as a trend to consolidate, has caught us off the hook.
Recognizing the limitations of the measures described, a possible roadmap would be the following:
- Establish what the parameters that interest us are. The first step in this roadmap would be to establish the three levels of analysis discussed above (organization, teams, and employees), which are the aspects that we are interested in assessing.
- Develop metrics to inform about the aspects of interest. The second step must be developing a shared language that allows us to speak in the same terms regarding the phenomenon. And that shared language is metrics. What numerical quantification can we use to describe each of the aspects mentioned above reliably?
- Engage employees, managers, and institutions in need of developing a culture of data and teleworking. This data culture will help us to have quality data that add to accurate descriptions of reality.
- Manage based on evidence. Incorporate metrics into our daily work and make decisions based on the information they provide.
- Constant evolution. And as a result of the above, to re-identify new aspects, to explore and start again. Maintaining the logic that we do not have all the answers and the concern to find them will be essential to progress in this area (as it happens in all others).
Also Read: The Best Tools For Teleworking