Microsoft analyzed data on its newly remote workforce
Teams that don’t communicate. Market disruption. Unidentified logjams. Employee burnout. Lost efficiency. As part of a group of data scientists, management consultants, and engineers at Microsoft, we help companies harness behavioral data to measure and solve these kinds of challenges — the kinds that firms feel but usually cannot see.
Four months ago we realized that our company, like so many others, was undergoing an immediate and unplanned shift to remote work. We all scrambled to set up home offices, situate newly homeschooled kids, juggle customer calls and cat antics, and, in many ways, rethink how to do our jobs.
At the same time, we knew this was a rare, real-time opportunity to learn something about work itself. We wanted to study how flexible and adaptable it might or might not be, how collaboration and networks morph in remote settings, what agility looks like in different spaces. Maybe most important, we wanted to know how to nurture and improve employee well-being during times of crisis.
So, we launched an experiment to measure how the work patterns across our group were changing, using Workplace Analytics, which measures everyday work in Microsoft 365, and anonymous sentiment surveys. We didn’t know what we’d find, but we felt certain that it would help us, our partners, our customers, and other organizations navigate the phases of this shift.
Our research started from a place of deep empathy for our colleagues and great curiosity about their capacity to adapt. We had few hypotheses but many burning questions, such as…