What the Data Tells Us About Remote Work

July 2, 2020

Sara Howshar

Today was the first episode of our new series, The Weekly Briefing. Based on the findings of The Daily Briefing, we wanted to expand our research and data to address how GTM leaders are rallying their teams to close 2020 strong.

This week Jim Benton met with Michael (Mike) Burton, SVP and Co-Founder of Bombora to discuss the data behind remote work productivity, structure, and efficiencies.

On Bombora’s approach to remote work, Mike said that they are cautiously optimistic. “We’re taking a balanced approach,” he said. “I think at first we were excited to work remotely. Now the pendulum is swinging to the other side because we are missing that person to person connection.”

TWB July 2 20 Audio Quality

Companies Are Investing in Home Offices #

This matches what we have heard from other leaders in the industry. We are no longer in the state of quick adjustments made overnight; companies have now adapted. “From January to June,” Jim said, “we saw a 58% improvement in audio quality. Companies are getting better and investing in different headsets and set ups for their employees.”

Mike agreed. “It hasn’t been a one-size fits all prescription. Different employees have different needs,” he said. “It’s specific person to person.”

Leaders and companies are coming together to make sure they invest in the human element of working from home, and setting their teams up to succeed in these circumstances.

Moving the office to home doesn’t just leave behind the desk hardware. It also creates a gap for human connection and for team cohesion.

Bringing the laughter back #

Mike and his team have been experimenting with ideas to create more experiences that brings everyone together for a little bit of lighthearted connection. To practice listening and problem solving skills, Bombora brought in an improv teacher to join one of their virtual happy hours.

“I have a background in improvisation,” he said. “To have the whole team together all laughing and working together was pretty great. You could see everyone having to listen well, and laughing. It’s been so long since we’ve had something together like that.”

“I think that it’s a testament to how productive working from home is right now.” 

Is Working From Home Productive? #

Meeting volume is down only about 6% since January. We saw a dip in early March when everyone moved remotely, and a slight plateau since June which is probably due to the start of summer.

There are of course many factors aside from remote work that can be attributed to the slight decline. And despite all of those other factors, people are working productively from their homes.

“This assumes that 70% of business is down,” said Mike. “I think that it’s a testament to how productive working from home is right now.”

Remote Work Days Are Longer #

We found that 25% more meetings start before 9am. 121% of meetings start after 4pm.

As Jim said, this is a very material change in the ways that we’re working together on our teams.

“People could meet at 5 and still be at the dinner table at 6. We are likely packing our days with internal meetings. We might be finding meeting times that are in that commute buffer,” said Jim.

Remote Work Weeks Are Shorter #

While there’s been a slight uptick in meetings on Mondays since January, there’s been a sharp, 20% decrease in meetings on Fridays.

TWB July 2 20 Remote Work Weeks

20% decrease in Friday Meetings since January 2020

This made sense to Mike. “More senior people were spending more time on planes, in Ubers... but now we’re all virtual. I think it’s the Groundhog Day effect. We used to have variety. A good week would be that we’d have two days at an event, a few days in the office, a day traveling, and it was nice to have that variety.”

“Maybe, by Friday, enough is enough,” he joked. “You’ve been on enough Zoom calls that you can’t take it anymore.”

Jim agreed. He noticed that his own schedule was starting to mirror this data. “I’ve been shifting those late friday interviews on Zoom. They take an incredible amount of energy and I've been shifting them to Mondays.”

The structure of meetings has changed as well. Mike suggested that he’s enjoying less structure in meetings than he used to. “I used to hate a meeting without an agenda,” he said. “But lately I’ve been having a few half hour meetings on my calendar when I’m just talking to someone that I enjoy about what we’re seeing in the industry. It’s been nice.”

Jim shared that he’s had a similar experience, and has missed the “sandwich” meetings.

“There’s this want to have everything really structured. I met with someone in person last week, wanting to do some long term thinking. We met for 3 hours and it felt very unstructured. I miss the “sandwich” time. When you’d say, ‘Hey let’s go grab some lunch’ and you’d unlock some of those big ideas along the way because we have space to think about it.”

Leadership has Changed in the Remote Environment #

There has been a 21% increase in leadership and manager coaching actions since the beginning of 2020.

Now that we’re all remote, teams need more support across the board. And we know leaders have a part to play, from meeting support to professional and skill development. Mike shared that he’s taken a different approach to coaching now than he would have back in the office.

“I’ve started to have one-on-ones with people across departments,” he said. “Not even people that work with me directly, but work with people who are on my team. In person you understand more of what’s going on and what’s happening. Now you need to make a more conscious effort to talk about these things, whether you’re listening on calls or setting more meetings. I used to talk to people everyday that I don’t talk to anymore because they’re not directly on my team.”

It’s clear that leaders are experimenting with ways to get the human, lighthearted connection back into the mix.

“You have to listen,” Mike said. “And it’s hard to listen right now.”

Leadership support is manifesting in call and meeting participation as well. We’re continuing to see a 73% increase in leadership participation on sales calls.

Mike was not certain whether he was being pulled in on calls more now for support, or because there are simply more calls. But he is talking to prospects more than he was before.

“I hope it’s helpful,” he said. “I would want this to continue. I still spend more time talking to current customers than to prospects. I’ll never get sick of that because you learn so much that you can apply across product.”

Q3 2020 #

What does Mike hope Q3 of 2020 has in store for Bombora? Face to face connection.

“Hopefully more reconnection,” he said. “We’re starting to stagger people into the offices, there are some people who don’t want to come back yet. I’d hope that we can see our teams together over the next 3 months.”

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