Optimizing Return-to-Office Strategies With Organizational Network Analysis | MIT Sloan Management Review

People Analytics

This article argues for a data-driven approach when informing a return-to-office strategy. In particular, Organizational network analysis (ONA) — a method that maps employees’ working relationships — offers an approach for answering three questions: 1) Who should be brought back together in a weekly cadence of in-person and virtual interactions? 2) What work should be prioritized in the now scarcer in-person time? 3) How do leaders manage the transition to a hybrid model with the least resistance? The article has charts to illustrate the answers to these questions using ONA. For example, the first chart shows how ONA data from a biotech company showed demand for in-person interactions was much higher in four business units. The second chart illustrates how employees want more in-person interactions with peers for rich qualitative exchanges (e.g., problem-solving, brainstorming) and prefer virtual modalities for lean transactional interactions (e.g., information sharing, decision-making). This data-driven approach can “help employees see the value of in-person collaboration and positively shape their attitudes about returning to the office in a hybrid work environment.”

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