Data and Analytics in times of disruption, such as during the COVID 19 pandemic, are essential to managing both the current environment and the move to a “new normal”

Our future world of work will be defined by data, consequently changing leadership, shaping culture, and hopefully becoming more diverse and inclusive within the workplace.

The last few months, to say the least, have opened our eyes to a new world of change and adaptation. Whether you are eating more or eating less, exercising daily or learning the pains / pleasures of what it’s been like to home school young children, the change has been dramatic and very real.

Recently I spoke with 15 Talent and Data Leaders from different industries who shared with me their experiences over the past few months and gave some great insights into what the future could look like.

The first and most obvious thing people do a lot more of is video calls. It is a bit like vegemite: love or hate?

Video conferencing usage during the COVID 19 outbreak and beyond

Video conferencing platform Zoom has seen 200 million daily meeting participants on average at the beginning of 2020, which is compared to the average of 10 million participants in December 2019. It has been estimated that by 2026, the Video Conferencing Market is set to Hit $6.37 Billion, with 94% of businesses who use video conferencing state that the company benefits from greater productivity.

Conversely, 89% of employees state that video conferences reduce the time it takes to complete projects and hinder productivity. So, there are some mixed reviews.

Interestingly, a recruitment leader in the Not for Profit space commented that because video conferencing limits you to the tiny camera on your laptop, this eliminates elements of bias.

Through many interviews they noticed that certain factors are now invisible:

  • Height
  • Body / Build
  • Clothes / Footwear
  • Scents

These subconsciously make up your gender and therefore can affect immediate first impressions and suitability for a job. Now these are no longer apparent, a more objective viewpoint and opinion can be made. Mainstreaming gender equality conversations is an intrinsic part on the road to recovery past COVID 19.

Proactively tapping into new data sources

Some of the leaders I spoke to in the FMCG and Financial Services sectors said “after collecting video conferencing data, meetings that last approximately 30 minutes with 2-4 people have been the most productive”

One Financial Services company has loved this change so much, their new strategy is to implement it permanently, eliminating face to face interviews unless deemed necessary. On-boarding will be virtual, and their new employees will be sent welcome packs straight to their door. This goes hand in hand with their workforce spending 80% of their time working from home now and into 2021.

With this period of change, most companies have been collecting data over the past 3 months to adapt into a new world of work. Through data statistics, surveys from employees, discussion groups with managers on their team’s performance and industry market insights, they shared similar results:

  • Productivity increased thus higher expectations from managers
  • Less recorded sick days
  • Work life balance and mental health became a regular conversation point
  • Employees have found interactions “more human and better connected”
  • Recruitment and on-boarding more streamlined virtually

As an example, mental health has been brought into conversations a lot more. One organization I spoke with is currently putting together a strategy and new support system for their employees, to ensure these conversations are easier, encouraged and the necessary information is more accessible.

These are only a few insights into the current market and how we will progress throughout 2020 and potentially what the permanent new norm will look like from 2021. Despite the year starting off with surreal challenges and setbacks (to say the least), it’s fair to say further changes will require us to continue to be adaptable and work cohesively moving forward.

As data is needed more and more across organisations, this will help guide leaders on how to understand the challenges likely to arise throughout the phases of this crisis, the aftermath and into the future.