Report Demonstrates Need for Business Leaders to Harness Productivity and Embrace Flexibility
A new report from the Prodoscore Research Council (PRC), an initiative created by employee visibility and productivity intelligence software leader Prodoscore, illustrates how the pandemic fueled changes in the work environment that continue to have impact. The research also confirms that in 2020 productivity increased year-over-year from 2019, dispelling any lingering fears that a distributed workforce leads to plummeting productivity.
PRC, an esteemed group of HR, Future of Work and productivity experts who bring visibility to worker productivity, evaluated more than 900,000 data points from nearly 7,000 employees.
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The data paints a picture of an evolving workplace. The massive shift to a distributed workforce has not merely changed where we work, but how we work, with many people working longer hours and into the weekend. It demonstrates the need for employers to harness productivity and embrace flexibility to deliver the best outcomes.
“The analysis we did of Prodoscore users unequivocally shows the importance of having access to data-driven productivity intelligence,” said Adrian Reece, PRC Principal Statistical Consultant and Doctoral Student. “Understanding how employees spend their day, when they are the most productive and with which tools, can help employers create a work environment that benefits everyone. Working from home/working from anywhere (WFH/WFA) emphasizes that daily routines are shifting; management needs to look at when and where their employees are the most productive.”
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PRC’s report reveals a business ecosystem ripe for disruption. World-class businesses like Salesforce and Google are already reimagining the concept of the workplace, the workweek, and the workday to attract the best workers. Technology, the reality of a distributed workforce, and the younger cohorts’ push for a more flexible work style are calling into question the viability of the traditional five-day workweek.
Pursuing a more flexible approach can also help alleviate the issue of burnout, a growing concern as work-from-home and work-from-anywhere employees extend their workday hours. “We know many of the changes we are experiencing go way beyond a change in our physical location and require an evaluation of how the workday can be shaped so that it is relevant for knowledge-based workers going forward,” said Crisantos Hajibrahim, Chief Product Evangelist, Prodoscore. “With employees working longer into the day and through the weekend, managing and mitigating burnout needs to be part of that evaluation. In our new work environment, it’s necessary to have corporate initiatives that focus on employee well-being and digital health planning.”
Unpacking PRC’s analysis outlines several intriguing trends:
Comparing 2020 vs. 2019 year-over-year shows greater productivity in every single month. Productivity increased a whopping 197% between January 2019 and January 2020. March showed the widest disparity in productivity scores, with 2020 registering a 207.6% increase over 2019. The smallest disparity was in November, with only a 4.7% increase in productivity in 2020 vs. 2019.
Employee productivity in 2020 aligned with the pandemic – when COVID surged, productivity dipped. Productivity slipped almost 2.5% in April compared to March when employees were first working from home.
There is a seasonal component to the ebb and flow of productivity. During 2020, productivity was at its highest during the first five months of the year. Then it began to dip during the late spring and summer months. Thanksgiving is a productivity killer; there was a 36% decline in productivity the week of Thanksgiving vs. the week and month before and after. This isn’t unique to the pandemic; the same decline occurred in both 2019 and 2020.
Employees are more productive on specific days of the week. Tuesday is the most productive day, followed by Wednesday and Thursday. Employees start their days earlier on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and stop working later, as compared to Mondays and Fridays.
The traditional eight-hour workday is expanding. The average start time between January 2020 and January 2021 drifted from 8:24 a.m. to 7:46 a.m, while the end time moved from 5:31 p.m. to 6:12 p.m. However, employees are not equally productive throughout the day; the data reveals that the busiest time of the workday is from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Unified communications as a service (UCaaS) technologies have become the backbone of businesses, taking on a large role in facilitating human-to-human contact. For knowledge-based workers, UCaaS technologies have become a huge part of the day with messaging, chat, voice and video making up more than 80% of the workday – surpassing email as the most popular communication tool. The amount of time spent on voice, video and chat/message increased 100% in 2020 compared to 2019.
High and low performers collaborate differently with various cloud tools. High performers spend a large portion of their day in communication tools. This suggests they’re more collaborative, engaged and interactive. Meanwhile, low performers tend to focus more on email, CRM and CMS. This may suggest they are more focused on busy work rather than being productive. Not surprisingly, high performers start their days one hour earlier.
Time spent on meeting surges. The number of daily meetings increased by 26% — from 3.36 meetings per day in 2019 to 4.24 meetings per day in 2020. Also in 2020, employees spent an average of 2 hours and 14 minutes in meetings each day, which equates to 24 full days annually. However, the time spent in meetings declined year-over-year — in 2019, employees spent an average of 3 hours and 7 minutes in meetings — nearly an hour longer than in 2020. Perhaps this means our meetings are becoming more efficient.
“This research and analysis underscores why business leaders need to prepare to embrace flexibility in the workplace,” said Hajibrahim. “It further demonstrates the imperative for businesses to be able to accurately measure productivity to support the distributed workforce. As we navigate the changes in our work environment, productivity intelligence software becomes even more critical, allowing business leaders to make informed, data-driven decisions to help employees achieve their highest levels of performance.”
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