Metrics in the digital workplace: How to accurately measure hybrid working compliance

June 25, 2024

Pete Summers

Metrics in the digital workplace: How to accurately measure hybrid working compliance image

There’s no denying that the workplace has changed significantly over the last few years. As businesses adopt hybrid and remote working models, the majority of work now takes place digitally – leaving IT leaders, HR leaders and Employee Experience Managers exploring new ways to measure and assess the digital workplace employee experience.

In our recent research of UK and US IT Decision Makers, we conducted a deep dive into three core elements of the digital workplace: hybrid working, employee productivity and digital experience. We wanted to understand how organizations are managing these elements today. We found that many organizations have a relatively immature approach to managing these key areas of the digital workplace.

In this blog, the first of a three-part blog series covering each element, we will explore the ways organizations are currently assessing hybrid work and what they could be doing better.          

Metrics that miss the mark

Business leaders and employees alike can’t seem to shake ‘productivity paranoia,’ even years after employees started working from home en masse. Businesses have traditionally measured employees’ productivity by hours spent at the desk or in the office. And with our research finding that businesses are still using a range of “tick-box” metrics focused on employees’ whereabouts and physical presence to monitor compliance with hybrid policies – not much seems to have changed.

  • 60% of organizations identify location of employees from where they log on
  • 59% of organizations require digital check-in/check out
  • 54% of organizations collect “gate data”
  • 50% of organizations installed time-tracking/attendance software
  • 43% of organizations require employees to manually fill in an office schedule/tracking document

There are obvious problems with these metrics. For example, using an IP address to determine where employees are logging on might be inaccurate. In fact, in 10-20% of cases, IP address data could place workers in an entirely different city.

But more than anything, these metrics only attempt to answer one question – where is work getting done. They don’t provide any insight into how employees are actually working. Whilst metrics like gate data can show when people are coming into the office, they don’t provide further insights. Meanwhile, we’re seeing the rise of trends like ‘coffee badging’ – where workers come into the office to show face, and leave shortly after arriving. Using metrics focused on physical presence offer no insight into employees’ productivity or whether they’re actually engaging with work tasks.

Evolving with the digital workplace

The problem is that productivity measurement practices haven’t evolved for the hybrid digital workplace.

Using an IP address or gate data to check if an employee is present in the office is simplistic, delivers no real analysis into how work is done, and is easily gamed. What’s more, this basic approach to managing hybrid working can erode trust on both sides. Employees may feel mistrusted knowing their entry and exit times are being scrutinized, and like they have little agency in the workplace. They may even decide to seek employment elsewhere as a result. Meanwhile, return-to-office mandates driven by presenteeism rather than empirical evidence, can leave employees feeling disempowered, ultimately diminishing their engagement over time.

What is needed is a sophisticated approach to productivity that offers a more nuanced appraisal of hybrid work, moving beyond mere compliance. DEX observability data can deliver this type of insight by understanding productivity as underpinned by digital efficiency – but first a company must change their approach. Truly measuring productivity in the digital workplace demands nuance, yet, as we will explore in the next post, there is significant room for improvement in this area as well…

Read our full report, The evolution of the IT department: From break/fix to the backbone of the modern enterprise to find out more about why digital workplaces demand a fresh perspective from IT teams.