P R I O R I T Y 3

Get to grips with data

The shift to a new way of working starts with data about how, where and how effectively employees work. Yet many companies lack this basic asset.

PRIORITY: 1 2 3 4

Making decisions about new ways of working starts with consulting those affected by the transition. Yet many companies are not gathering the information they need.

In our survey


of business leaders consult with other managers about the future of the workplace, but only


consult with employees and the same proportion collect and analyse data about how employees work.

This creates a management “closed circuit” with decisions being taken without having a good understanding of the reality of how employees really work.

Less than

0 in 5

respondents say that they have a very good understanding of the needs of different employees, and only


say the same about the link between digital tools and employee well-being.


collect and analyse data about how employees work to support decisions about new ways of working


have a very good understanding of the needs of different employees


have a very good understanding of the link between digital tools and employee well-being

The need to join the dots

One reason why companies have struggled to get the right data is because its collection has not been treated as a holistic, business-wide requirement.

In our research,


of business leaders say that digital experience of technology is much more than just an IT issue.

The digital aspects of work have for too long existed in a separate silo from the employee experience aspects. CIOs, who own the digital experience, have not been sufficiently aligned with people leaders, who own employee experience. As a result, companies’ understanding of broader employee experience has been fragmented.

“You need to pull datasets together from many different sources, from customer satisfaction to revenue performance, and experience of digital tools and employee engagement,” explains Eleanor Philips, former CHRO of Informa. “There’s a real art for the CEO in making sure it's on the agenda, and that there is a realistic set of KPIs that drive the conversation.”

Even if companies can access the right data, they rarely have enough information on which to base huge decisions about the future of work. ​​”Lots of people say that productivity has improved during the pandemic, or that customer satisfaction has declined, but there is very little empirical evidence at the moment to confirm those statements,” continues Ms Philips. “They may be true, but I don’t think we have enough data to prove them yet.”

Time to look beyond surveys

If companies do collect data about how employees work, it tends to be survey-based. But the problem with this data is that it is difficult to action and merges very different experiences into highly simplified, aggregate numbers. The nature of work today means that employee experience is unique to each individual and yet survey data presents this information as averages.

“The problem with employee sentiment surveys is they change all the time, so you have to be very careful about making decisions based on those alone,” says Stephanie Bloor, Director of Workplace Strategy and Culture at PwC. It’s better to pilot new approaches, use on-going real time data and intelligence and be able to adapt as you go.”

Employees may also report contradictory data in surveys. As McKinsey notes in a recent article3, they often feel conflicted about the pros and cons of new ways of working. On the one hand, they have often relished the greater flexibility that remote working has brought but, on the other, they feel disconnected from their organisation and very often overworked. McKinsey suggests that this disconnect could lead to a “great attrition” as the disconnect between company and employee widens.

Dave Page, CEO of Actual Experience, suggests that companies should look beyond surveys to gather data at an individual level on how employees experience work. “Data oozes out of the world of digital and you can get it for every single employee,” he says. “This makes the data both high-quality as well as actionable.”

Better data about how employees use digital tools and carry out work processes can be hugely valuable. “If the processes employees use to do their job or interact with customers aren’t working well, then that is a huge pain point,” says Ms Philips. “Most companies don’t know enough about that performance. In my experience, the C-suite rarely talks about the data around those work processes but those datasets will be absolutely fundamental in future.”

3 It’s time for leaders to get real about hybrid, McKinsey Quarterly

Tracking well-being

In late 2020, PwC offered staff a Garmin fitness tracker as part of a pilot to look at well-being across the business. Like any normal fitness watch, the devices measure heart rate, exercise levels and fitness but unlike other watches, they are also connected to a central platform, which provides tailored analysis for each wearer. This goes beyond the usual fitness numbers. It also collects data from timesheets and calendars, and can provide each user with detailed reporting on their individual sleep patterns, stress levels and overall well-being. “By looking at how much time people spend looking at screens, in meetings, sitting down and exercising, we can provide people with really tailored insights that can help them adjust their lifestyles and improve their well-being,” says Stephanie Bloor, Director of Workplace Strategy and Culture at PwC.

“You need a dashboard of metrics that look at different things and the goal is to monitor in real time and keep things in equilibrium.”

Stephanie Bloor,

Director of Workplace Strategy and Culture at PwC


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Actual Experience (Actual) works with people leaders to help build a digital workplace that works for everyone, everywhere, all of the time.

Through always-on people analytics and consulting, Actual helps to create a level playing field in the workplace. By revealing opportunities to reduce digital inequality and improve efficiency, Actual empowers employees in their choice of when, where and how they want to work.

Based on years of patented academic research, Actual enables organisations to constantly ask their employees: how is your digital workplace working for you? What is holding you back? What is causing frustration? All insights are generated with no need for employee surveys.

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