Microsoft recently announced that it had experienced a 40% increase in employee productivity in response to a summer pilot project the firm had undertaken to examine work-life balance. This project involved employees in Microsoft's Japan subsidiary working a four-day week instead of the traditional five days. The results are attracting a lot of media attention and have naturally sparked much interest amongst business leaders, but businesses must think carefully about how to measure both productivity, and the employee experience.
Why measuring employee productivity is so important
The measurement of employee experience is crucial, as an engaged and happy employee is often a more productive one. Supporting ways in which this can be measured with advancing and democratized analytics capabilities has become a key focus of investment for providers of workspace tools such as VMware and Citrix, and also for providers of enterprise technology suites such as Microsoft, Google, and ServiceNow. Service providers and system integrators such as NTT, HCL, and Atos are also investing in this area. The initial focus for many is gathering metrics across an increasingly integrated set of tools. For example, analytics information on things such as application performance can give some indication of user experience. However, in delivering an accurate view of employee experience, this technical data must be combined with insights around employee sentiment and well-being. Some vendors are recognizing this and investing not only in new technical capabilities, but also in new professional services skills by recruiting people trained in sentiment analysis, for example.
It would be interesting to learn more specific details around how Microsoft measured the productivity improvements of its recent pilot project, particularly around how employee well-being and sentiment were assessed and analyzed. Traditional approaches to measuring employee productivity have often focused too much on technology utilization, and have ignored other important elements such as employee welfare. Enterprise leaders are looking to measure the success of digital workspace initiatives, with many looking to employee productivity data as one measure of success – something that is important since improved productivity is often the main goal of workspace investment. Improved productivity is often not achieved solely through the introduction of new tools alone; indeed, companies that introduce a number of different business tools can find that productivity actually falls, particularly if the tools are poorly integrated, or if not enough thought has gone into how they will really help people do their job.
Aside from the productivity improvements, Microsoft also announced the positive impact the four-day week had on its carbon footprint/expenses, with electricity consumption and printing both reduced (not a great surprise considering its workspaces were unoccupied for an extra day per week).
Adam Holtby, Senior Analyst, Workspace Services