With the pandemic seeming to be on an uptick again, many businesses are going back to a model in which employees may work from home or both work from the office a few days a week and then work from home for the rest of the workweek.
The challenge for many business owners, managers, and leads is keeping track of employee productivity and participation, as well as monitoring the use of company hardware and software from afar when they are not in the office. On the technology front, a company called ActiveOps offers some solutions.
“What we’re now facing as we’re going into 2022 is this idea of hybrid work, where you’ve got people who work from home some days a week and in the office as well,” said Spencer O’Leary, Chief Executive Officer of ActiveOps in North America. “It has caused chaos because whenever you want employees to work from home, most people went home with a machine under their arm, and [those machines] are installed in their house.
“Suddenly, you’ve got the age-old task of management, which is life/work balance. ‘Have I got enough time to do the work that needs to be done? Do I have enough work to keep the people busy that are employed?’” he added.
O’Leary has been with ActiveOps for 10 years as an employee and worked with them before that as a partner in the United Kingdom.
“I’ve been in the business of helping organizations better manage their workforce since I was a young man. I did most of it when I was in the UK as a banker by trade. I joined Barclays Bank in England, and then came out of that bank and went into the computer software industry, specializing specifically in this management of the workforce. So, with my previous company, and then with ActiveOps, I’ve literally traveled the world helping set up our operation,” O’Leary explained.
His endeavors have not been without obstacles, though.
“I moved here in February 2020, literally two weeks before COVID showed up. I arrived at DFW [Airport] on the 18th of February, met my wife, my two children, our two dogs, and our cat. The goods arrived in a shipping container from England literally on the day that the Port closed. So, we find we were just lucky to make it in,” he said.
Being thrown straight into the fire with the pandemic allowed ActiveOps to flex its muscles and test new strategies.
“I’ve run the business for the past couple of years. In early 2020, the act of managing one’s workforce, whether it be a large business or a small business, just got harder. Not only were people working from home, but managers were managing from home,” O’Leary said.
“We’ve really been helping businesses through COVID as far as measuring, managing, motivating, and improving the performance of the workforce when they’re working from home. It’s tough. And it’s not just the employer making sure that the employee keeps on task.
“Organizations have never been great at measuring inputs and outputs, such as, ‘How much effort do I put in every day?’, and outputs, as in, ‘How much work did I get done every day?’ Most humans actually want to do a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay. And when you’re not aware of either how many hours you did, or how much work you got through, it’s not a very rewarding environment. If you’re not equipping the employee and the employer with the right level of technology solutions to enable them to measure inputs and outputs, it can get chaotic, and nobody really knows what’s going on,” O’Leary explained.
The software programs that ActiveOps offers can help management, administration, and employees with efficiency, productivity, work/life balance, and accountability.
“[One of the] biggest worries of most businesses in 2022 is the cost of sickness and attrition caused by workplace stress from not having a sense of well-being. And if organizations don’t start to measure work/life balance and find ways to adjust accordingly, nothing will change. There are ways you can measure it through our software because we recognize the importance of this topic,” O’Leary said.
“Because our software resides on each person’s computer, and it literally measures from the time they log on to the time they log off and how much work they do for their output, that’s where we get those numbers of throughput and production management. The rate of production is quite different when people are working in the office versus when people are working from home.
“We’ve seen trends where productivity was reduced when people work from home. And that’s mainly because of more distractions at home than in the office because they’ve got pets or kids. So, if I’m a business, it’s not as simple as putting people on either business A or B. I probably have departments that work better from home and some in the office.
“It’s all about good, accurate, timely data. If you don’t know who’s working with, and you don’t know who’s doing what, then any decision you make is predominately based on guesswork. So, the first thing [our software] does is provide an automated way of collecting and aggregating data. The second thing that we do is we turn that data into what we call insight which is basically information that tells managers things about what’s working and what’s not, and to do that seamlessly.
“If you were to go talk to one of the managers that that uses our solution and that we’ve trained, the thing that they’ll talk about is most managers, in most businesses large and small, spend their days looking backward. So, they manage a week or look in hindsight to see what they could have done better.
“ActiveOps gives them foresight, to start getting them to think about the future and the future we get them to think about is only at the end of today and tomorrow, maybe the end of this week. It’s no further than that. But it’s people that can have a conversation that says tomorrow, based on history, I’m expecting to get this amount of work. Tomorrow, I’m expecting to have this number of people working these number of hours. Tomorrow, I’m expecting to work at this rate of production. And then with some fairly basic math that we teach them, they can work some numbers and help them understand that tomorrow, I need 12 people, but I’ve only got 11 people. And then I get on teams and make a phone call to some of my colleagues and see if they can lend me somebody,” said O’Leary.
To learn more about ActiveOps’ products and training, visit ActiveOps.com.