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By Richard Jeffrey, CEO at ActiveOps

The press has been awash with senior business leaders wrestling with the challenges of hybrid working. Some high-profile organizations have either banned remote work or restricted it for certain employees.

Effectively what all of these column inches have in common is a level of paranoia among senior leaders about where their people are, and inferring if they are not in line of sight, then they must be skiving – what Microsoft’s Satya Nadella calls ‘productivity paranoia’.

Trust the data

Scratch the surface however and you will find a correlation between the absence of trusted operational data and the level of senior management concern. Organizations knee jerk to impose arbitrary back-to-office mandates in the absence of data and process around how they manage where people work.

By contrast, for those organizations that use data, it is a non-issue because they have the information at hand to make better choices about what the right answer is for them. In other words, it doesn’t need to be a problem.

It is a classic example of when people feel out of control, they become insecure in their thinking. Whereas if organizations are confident about their systems and processes, and are on top of where the work is, then it is easier to be flexible about where people are working.

Strategy, not hope

There is a real dichotomy between those businesses that have cracked this and are in control, and those that are making decisions based purely on emotion because they feel powerless and out of control – if their people aren’t in the office, then they tend to fear the worst.

But with the right data and the system of managing work properly, organizations then have all the visibility and levers they need to make informed decisions on where the right place is to work for their individual business.

If an organization is not using data to inform policy on hybrid working, it is effectively a hope strategy like throwing darts at a dartboard in the dark. They assume people work better in the office and are therefore dismissive of hybrid working regardless.

Ultimately CEOs must focus on having the data to be able to make the right decisions.

Richard Jeffrey
Chief Executive Officer, ActiveOps

Let data drive your decisions

There are potentially two key opportunities for organizations that are making data-driven management decisions around hybrid working. Firstly, they can configure their business better and potentially improve staff wellbeing because there won’t be the same battles around blanket back-to-office mandates that are based on C-suite paranoia. Secondly, it gives organizations a potential hiring advantage in the context of scarce resource availability – if rivals are forcing all employees back into the office, then data-driven organizations can offer a better work-life balance.

Using data, however, does not create a binary outcome. What it enables organizations to do is fine-tune processes because they have all the feedback loops and visibility on what impact hybrid working is having and therefore can adjust based on their individual circumstances.

Ultimately CEOs must focus on having the data to be able to make the right decisions. By using data to underpin their management processes, organizations can create a flexible strategy that can be tweaked as the business evolves, improving decision-making and ensuring working practices are always right for them.

Data can overcome productivity paranoia

As organizations continue to evolve from pandemic-induced changes to everyday working practices, the long-term impacts on operational performance remain uncertain and the Hybrid working question mark remains. Data can help leaders overcome the ‘productivity paranoia’ and make informed decisions, creating hybrid working policies that are based on outcomes rather than emotion. We see businesses with timely and accurate control, making more effective and informed choices about working location and performance. Our latest OpsTracker Q2 report gives you further insights on operational performance around the world and how to improve.

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