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Did Remote Work Kill Onboarding?

Jan Rezab

CEO

February 25, 2021

5

min read

Welcome to the issue #14 of my Productivity Tips by CEOs newsletter.

Today I want to address the elephant in the room: the flailing new employee. Think they’re not flailing? Our exclusive data shows a distinct decline of internal networking for employees hired during the current pandemic. Less communicating in this context means diminished productivity. It’s not all doom and gloom: if you know your metrics, you can do something about them. Speaking of metrics, we tackle your greatest productivity challenge -- finding time to strategize amid emails, Slack, and meetings -- in our latest series devoted to HR data and focus time.

The hidden Cost of Remote Work? Your Onboarding took a Nosedive

Veteran journalist and prior New York Times contributor Dinah Spritzer interviewed Time is Ltd. CEO Jan Rezab in the first of our series on analytics and the Future of Work:

Dinah Spritzer: Remote work is here to stay even in countries where the pandemic is easing. Spotify just announced it would let its employees work from anywhere. Salesforce said the 9-5 work day is dead; Twitter and Square are letting employees work from home, forever. This is a 100-percent victory for productivity, right?
Jan Rezab:
The old office is dead. I imagine the new office as more of a community space for people to safely gather. Still, some companies will try to go back to the old office concept right away. Then there will be companies that try to fully embrace work from anywhere, and I think they will fail, meaning Spotify and others of the world.

DS: That’s a bold prognosis. Why are they doomed?
JR:
I think full-on work from home is suited for a very specific type of company. The lack of a social aspect will hurt the company in the long run, and we're seeing that right now with people who have been onboarding completely remotely during the pandemic. They have as little as half the network of their peers who onboarded in person, according to our data. The average decrease across all of our clients was over 25 percent, but in most larger companies it was almost half.

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DS: But that just means less time talking about what they did on the weekends in the company cafeteria. What’s the link to productivity?
JR:
You need to build functional cross-team relationships. And if you don't have that, you will end up having a siloed organization with teams that can’t coordinate. The left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing. That’s absolute chaos.

“Then there will be companies that try to fully embrace work from anywhere, and I think they will fail.” -- Jan Rezab

DS: Since you are networking less, don’t siloes allow you to get more done?
JR:
No, they decrease productivity. You have these new people not being able to expand their immediate network, or not being able to get to know the people that they should. If two teams do not communicate, let’s say marketing and sales, they will create strategies based only on listening to marketing, not sales, and not the organization as a whole. People generally know less if they know fewer people. And if you know fewer managers to turn to when there is a problem, then problems will take longer to solve by definition.

DS: How do you overcome this?
JR:
In the future there must be some form of of a hybrid setup that supports freedom, mental health, and connection. So working both at the office and at home. I think people will get more work done in a hybrid way of working. The need to connect in person still remains, which means the best companies are going to go hybrid. And we're seeing these breadcrumbs -- sort of like Hansel and Gretel in the data - that show how detrimental it is when a company ignores the way remote work reduces employee’s internal networks.

DS: What tips do you have for CEOS to improve onboarding when people are mostly working remotely?
JR:
Companies should embrace Slack or Teams across channels as part of the solution.

DS: So, back to the new hybrid workplace, I guess that means you're not going to be working from beautiful Cuba or breathtaking Alaska any time soon?
JR:
Exactly. And look at Facebook. They said, whoever wants can work from anywhere until June 2021, but at the same time said if you move elsewhere permanently, that's fine. But we're going to do a price adjustment of your salary depending on where you move. And that is a subtle threat for people; they have a lot of employees from all over the world. And the message is, if you move back to a country with a lower cost of living or less competitive salaries than Northern California, we're not going to pay you $150,000 a year to be an engineer.

DS: Your company measures so many metrics for team communication, meetings, and networks. What is the number one metric big companies should focus on through 2022?JR: I think the three hottest metrics are related to onboarding and the social network of people, the level of connectivity of the teams that shows how they work together, and how they change. Number two, it's definitely going to be wellbeing related. Are my people not going out of their minds? And that takes us right to focus time. How much creative non-meeting, non-emailing time do I have in a day?

Tune in to future newsletters to find out how much time your employees REALLY have to focus on strategy.

🔥Hot Time is Ltd. news! 📰

wRITTEN BY

Jan Rezab

Founder & CEO of @timeisltd