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The Top 8 Takeaways COVID Taught Us About Digital Collaboration, Working from Home, and the Future of Work

Collaboration Dynamics
November 10, 2022
min read
We spoke at Webrazzi Summit 2022, and Salesforce LIVE events on what COVID Taught Us About Digital Collaboration, Working from Home, and the Future of Work.

As we transition into a post-pandemic world, it seems like sales conferences, speaking engagements, and industry conferences are popping up left and right. In October alone we were offered the opportunity to speak at engagements that took place in Prague, Istanbul, and Warsaw. 

As a premier partner to Salesforce, we were asked to speak at two of their events. On October 10th, our CEO and Founder Jan Rezab spoke at SALESFORCE LIVE: Prague, and took the stage with Denis Tomíšek, a Senior Account Executive. From there, he grabbed the mic at the Webrazzi Summit 2022 in the disruption category just two days later in Istanbul. The next day he was speaking at SALESFORCE LIVE: Warsaw

Learn more about how our Salesforce integration empowers businesses to map out the behavior of your sales team and drive positive change.

A GIF of pictures at the Salesforce LIVE event in Prague with Jan Rezab, Founder and CEO of Time is Ltd. speaking on the stage. 

Webrazzi Summit 2022: The Future of Work by Jan Rezab @ Time is Ltd.  

8 Takeaways from Time is Ltd. Data on What COVID Taught Us About Digital Collaboration, Working from Home, and the Future of Work 

The insights shown below are from the Time is Ltd. platform, where we analyze digital collaboration in large companies with thousands of people across industries. Our insights are centered on workplace collaboration behavior in remote, hybrid, and in office environments. Here are 8 takeaways from our recent event tour.

1. COVID Changed How People Worked - 100% of Employees Were Tasked to Do it All Working from Home 

Illustration of how COVID changed the way people work. 100% of meetings were conducted on video conferencing platforms, 100% of employees worked from home, and were required to complete the same workload while working from home. 

It seemed that almost overnight across the world, 100% of in-person meetings turned into video calls. Suddenly 100% of employees were working from home, NOT “remote.” There is a clear discrepancy between working remotely and working from home. As companies shifted to a working from home model, our data scientists thought this could be great for collaboration, and have a better understanding of how employees work

2. Covid Home Office Is Different Than Today’s Home Office - Trends In Meetings & Micromanagement 

Illustration about how companies adapted their working environments from the home office era before COVID, during COVID, and today.  

Prior to COVID, home office was used very seldomly, something relegated to a Friday. COVID made the home office the working business model for the foreseeable future, and it influenced how companies worked, such as what digital tools they adopted and how they collaborated. 

Today, many companies are transitioning into a kind of hybrid working model (50% in-office, and 50% at home) - and business leaders the world over are wondering which working environment model they should adopt. What’s the best business practice for protecting employees’ well-being while being as productive as possible? 3. What COVID Taught us About Working from Home - Digital Collaboration Didn’t Improve 

3. What COVID Taught us About Working from Home - Digital Collaboration Didn’t Improve 

Illustration about how digital collaboration during COVID didn’t improve. 

As companies look to improve the employee experience, it’s important to look at what COVID taught us about working from home. So first of all, home office or working remotely is not a new concept; that's been around for a long long time. BUT home office adoption during in COVID was a very different beast. For now, some companies are shifting back to the office, and some are adopting a sort of hybrid work model that feels different than what home office looked like prior to COVID. CEOs are asking, is it better to collaborate in the office? We hear things like, “I can't brainstorm remotely as effectively as I can in the office.” On the other hand, some employees believe they are more productive and prefer to work at home. 

The truth is, there are certain things that you can do effectively and cannot do while working remotely. It’s difficult to say what is the right way to run a company in a hybrid work environment model. There’s just too little data to answer that question. However, we're going to shed some light on the topic and discuss - what was COVID not able to solve when it comes to business performance, employee productivity, and culture? 

COVID didn’t fix home office, it didn’t fix meeting culture, nor did it improve the way employees collaborate digitally. It made meeting culture worse, led to digital tool sprawl and over-communication. Just because companies adopted video-conferencing software like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Google Meets, didn’t mean that companies were great at digital collaboration. With that said, there are benefits to home office and the jury is still out on the best way to solve this “workplace” issue. 

With Time is Ltd., organizations can gain a comprehensive understanding of their workplace collaboration dynamics across hybrid, in office, and remote working models. Our platform empowers businesses to gain the insights needed to deploy the best working model for their company based on their employee collaboration behavior. They’ll be able to cultivate a thriving and more productive workplace based on their findings about their unique employee experience and employee engagement data. 

The Evolving Workforce & HR's Identity Crisis
The last two pandemic-filled years have changed the nature of work, and HR leaders are struggling to adapt. That's the main takeaway from our new survey of 255 HR professionals. We went to HR leaders directly to discover the challenges they face with employee engagement, retention, onboarding, and more, and the results paint a picture of HR leaders being at a crossroads. 
See Whitepaper

4. Employee Collaboration is Higher in the Office than While Working from Home or Remotely 

Illustration about collaboration and how employees collaborate 40% more in-office than a remote work setting. 

We analyzed a cluster of large companies that had the attendance numbers of in-office employees to showcase the discrepancy between collaboration in-office and remote employees that work from home. We measured the frequency of meetings, emails, and working on documents. The data shows that when an employee collaborates in the office, he/she works three hours five minutes a day. When an employee collaborates remotely or works from home, they do so at 2 hours 14 minutes. That means that employees collaborate 40% more in an office environment than while working from home / remotely. Keep in mind that just because the data shows employees collaborate more in-office, doesn’t mean that collaboration is better or more productive. 

It’s important that companies measure employee engagement and what drives productivity. Our Collaboration Analytics Dashboard can give you a quick snapshot of your employee collaboration across the entire organization, specific teams, or even where that communication is taking place. 

5. More 1:1 Managerial Meetings Take Place in the Office over Remote Work Settings 

Illustration showing how remote 1:1 managerial meetings happen just a fraction of the time compared to in-office one-to-one meetings. 

When it comes to managers, they have more one-to-one meetings in the office than they do with remote work settings; they clearly prefer to meet people in person. As for office settings, managers conduct one-to-one meetings on a .4 basis, which means they’re taking place with one person per two months. We recommend that the number of one-to-one meetings be at least a minimum of one to two meetings per month. 

We also found a correlation where if a manager has more one-to-ones with their team members, they tend to micromanage less. That means they tend to join less of their employee team meetings, need to be copied less on emails sent by employees, and trust the team to manage, which can be a substantial confidence and morale boost to employees. That's a signal of empowerment and good team leadership. 

To create a thriving workplace, company leaders need to improve the employee experience in a way that empowers teams to achieve their full potential. This starts with understanding how well your teams are collaborating, so that you can save time where it matters most. Read more about how you can improve your meeting culture with thoughts from our data scientist

Our data also found that the people and the team that are more remote, tend to be more siloed as an organization. We definitely aren't saying that working from home should be canceled, but we do have to optimize the way we work in aggregate. So now let’s look at how employees build networks. 

6. Employees that Work Remotely Build Half the Network Size Than Their In-office Counterparts 

Time is Ltd. created a metric based on network size that measures how many employees and external people you meet, on a regular basis. It’s clear that in-office employees have both the largest internal and external network compared to their hybrid, and remote colleagues. 

The hybrid model shows early indicators of a successful model. Hybrid working employees show a similar network size as their in-office colleagues, and are engaging with the same six people internally as their counterparts. When it comes to external engagement, they’re engaging with a similar network size as well to their office colleagues. 

The remote / working from home model shows that employees are more isolated; particularly when it comes to cross-team relationships. The typical remote employee engages far more frequently in 1-1 interactions. This may be great for building close relationships with a small number of employees, but they’re building less than 50% of the network size compared to their in-office colleagues.

7. Remote Workers Spend 50% Less Time Collaborating on Shared Files Compared to their Colleagues 

This chart illustrates remote collaboration across shared files, and remote teams share files 50% less. 

In this chart, you’ll see how teams are collaborating. This chart shows the proportion of how much collaboration all employees do on shared files (Slides, Spreadsheets, Docs, etc.). We can see that depending on how remote a team is, will determine how much they work on, prepare, edit documents collaboratively. In other words, the more remote they are, the less they collaborate on shared documents. 

8. Remote Work Has Its Advantages 

This illustration shows the advantages and disadvantages of remote work. Advantages are that remote workers connect to meetings faster, work less overtime, and work more dynamically. The disadvantages of remote work is that remote teams have smaller network sizes, collaborate less effectively, postpone meetings, and work generally less. 

All that said, there are some benefits to remote work. For example, remote employees connect much faster to meetings, which if multiplied across a large company, saves thousands of hours of idle time (time spent waiting for a meeting to start). At the start of the pandemic, it was thought that when employees worked from home, they’d have longer work days and wouldn’t know when to stop working. We found that employees do stop, and the overworking behavior is more industry - and - company specific. 

Next, we analyzed the response time of communication and found that remote employees respond much faster. There is no concrete answer as to why, but one theory is that these employees are in more regular communication with a smaller network of colleagues. One could argue that they have a stronger relationship with a select few employees, but they’re overall collaboration with a wider group is much less.

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The Takeaway 

Time is Ltd. has been analyzing collaboration behavior across industries and large companies throughout this unprecedented time in history. COVID has shown us that remote workers have a smaller network size, collaborate less, push their one-to-ones to the office, and generally have less focus time throughout the day. That doesn’t mean however, that they are less productive than their hybrid or in-office counterparts. There isn’t enough data to show what the ideal working environment or a one-size-fits-all approach is across the board. 

Business leaders from the CEO and CROs to HR managers should take a hard look at their company collaboration to find the best path forward when it comes to which working model to adopt, best internal communication practices, and how to improve the employee experience to boost productivity. 

Learn how you can facilitate healthy collaboration, a better employee experience, and overall employee engagement to optimize the performance of your workforce. If you’re interested in understanding more about your employee collaboration, get in touch today!

Article by
Lexie McCulloch
A marketing professional with 7+ years of content management expertise with a history of international experience working in startups and high-growth companies.
Article by
Lexie McCulloch
A marketing professional with 7+ years of content management expertise with a history of international experience working in startups and high-growth companies.

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