After the pandemic, thousands of companies are experimenting with hybrid work for the first time this year. Others already have an established hybrid work policy in place and are wondering whether it’s being followed. According to a recent survey by the AWA, policies that mandate employees attend three days per week only result in 2.1 days of actual attendance. The results are similar for two day policies with an attendance rate of 1.1 days.
In either case, this guide contains everything you need to know about hybrid work attendance:
Should you track attendance?
What hybrid work metrics should you monitor?
How do you track these metrics?
Should you track attendance?
A paper published by the British Health Research Foundation (Managing Attendance at Work: An Evidence Based Review) analyzed over a dozen studies over the last 50 years on workplace attendance, determined that it’s unclear whether tracking attendance is actually effective for every company. It may depend on your company’s objective and individual situation.
For example researchers found that, “attendance management programs are likely to produce the most significant effects on those individuals with very high absence rates and lesser effects on those with average or low absence rates”.
However the paper goes on to conclude that “the results of attendance management programs appear to be frequently unpredictable” and more research is needed. The method, data collection, and objectives of the studies varied widely.
So really the question is not, “should be tracking attendance?” Ask yourself, “should we be tracking productivity and collaboration?”
Tracking attendance is a means to an end and it’s important to tie the attendance to KPIs at the company before drawing conclusions. Showing up is half the battle – but your employees should be doing more than just showing up.
The Costs Of Absenteeism and Presenteeism
A white paper from Circadian, a workplace solutions company, found that absenteeism costs companies “roughly $3,600 per year for each hourly worker and $2,660 each year for salaried employees.”
There are both direct and indirect costs of an employee being absent. Direct costs involved could be the salary and benefits (PTO) from the employee’s absence.
However a hybrid workplace environment, those costs are less obvious – what about employees who are working remotely and decide to skip an in-person day? Or an employee who shows up to the office but doesn’t leave their desk?
There are indirect costs associated in both of these situations such as loss of productivity and potential animosity. In the former, the team suffers from productivity loss and feels the policy is not being applied equally. If they genuinely did not need to be there in-person, a smaller conference room could have been booked and the employee’s desk could have gone to someone that was actually present. Ultimately, an empty or unused space increases the equipment and leasing costs of the company.
On the other side of the coin, there is also a cost for presenteeism. In the scenario where the employee feels compelled to come into the office but doesn’t leave their desk, there is a loss of productivity and lack of collaboration. They could have stayed home that day, and animosity grows toward the company as they’ve spent time commuting when they could have been working from home. Another example of presenteeism is an employee that is sick coming into the office to meet a deadline or simply to show they are present. This could cost the company as they are not working as effectively when sick, and could also potentially make others sick.
That is why it’s important that your hybrid workplace policy is well-defined upfront and applied equally. In order to manage a hybrid work environment effectively, you need to measure metrics beyond just attendance.
Metrics To Monitor
Here are a few metrics that you might consider monitoring in a hybrid work environment:
- Incidence rate – days absent x 100 / number of employees
- Inactivity rate – total hours of absence x 100 / number of total hours scheduled to work
- Severity rate – average number of hours lost by absent employees x 100 / number of average hours normally worked
- Conference room and desk bookings – on in-person and remote days
- Office space utilization by floor and department
- NPS (Net Promoter Score) for employee happiness. Send the survey on days employees are working from home vs in office. Or send them before and after you start the hybrid work policy.
- Hours logged. If your employees are working more at home vs in-office. Though you need to be careful drawing conclusions from this, more hours worked does not necessarily equate to more productivity. That time could have been spent at the water cooler. There also may be local labor laws with restrictions on how long your employees can work.
- Individual department KPIs for productivity and quality control; deliverables on-time and on-budget.
Measuring Office Space Usage
Measuring how employees use the office allows you to unlock additional insights about your workplace that result in cost savings and increased productivity. For example, let’s say your company has a hybrid policy of 3 days in and 2 days work from home. Perhaps certain desks and conference rooms are being utilized less on hybrid remote days. By measuring the usage, you could potentially alter the conference room space, try hot desking (shared desks), or lease out the unused space. All of these methods save the company money in the long run. Further, once you understand how the office is truly being utilized, you can optimize the space to encourage collaboration in-person.
Methods for Tracking Attendance
Hardware (Old) Approach
The oldest method to track attendance is punch sheets or time cards. This feels a little antiquated and there are environmental concerns with using paper. Further, in larger companies it becomes difficult to aggregate the data – ironically measuring time this way is a time consuming task for the manager.
Digital clock in / clock out systems are a step in the right direction. With these instead of using the old school punch cards, employees can clock in using an employee ID number, an RFID badge, or even facial recognition. The downside of this method is, it isn’t all that smart beyond telling you who showed up. It may not actually increase productivity.
Corporate HR software like Workday and ADP have time tracking capabilities within their mobile apps. You can create a project or tag for “in office” vs “remote” to help distinguish and measure where employees are. Some apps have built-in geolocation features so that the employee can only clock in when they are physically present.
With employee time tracking software, making sense of all of this data and turning it into action insights can be challenging. It tells you the employee is present, but it doesn’t tell you how they are utilizing the office itself and whether they were more collaborative or productive that day.
As employees at Goldman Sachs return to office, managers are taking a list of security badge check-ins and then recording the data in a spreadsheet.
If companies are not able to access office security data, managers can simply do a roll call in the morning and take attendance on a spreadsheet. While this costs virtually nothing, it is prone to error and the manager needs to be deeply involved. It may be better suited for small companies or individual departments experimenting with hybrid work.
Software + Hardware Approach
Combining software with hardware offers the best of both worlds and helps managers drill down into actionable insights. On the hardware side, occupancy and headcount sensors can measure how employees are actually using the office space. Pairing this hardware with advanced reporting and mobile booking software can save time and money through improved space utilization. For example you can answer:
- How productive were we today?
- Do some departments collaborate more than others on hybrid days?
- Was this conference room utilized today?
- Did our employees leave their desks?
This can give you the data that you need to decide what the best policy is for your company and how to maximize collaboration and productivity.
- Absenteeism and presentism are costly issues for companies.
- The research is unclear on whether tracking attendance will improve outcomes, and depends on the company. Therefore it’s important to measure more than just attendance.
- There are many ways to track attendance and office usage, but a software + hardware approach is best. If you need help managing and monitoring your hybrid work environment, contact AVUITY for a free demo.