Analyzing Focus Time Should Be The Top Priority For Companies — How Can You Audit It?
This newsletter talk about something important for everyone. We often talk about collaboration and the overload — but we decided to measure also the time that companies have for focus — and what are the sources of distractions by teams. We think this is absolutely crucial — and we are launching an invite-only feature around focus time called Focus Flow.
News Related to Focus Time
The debate about which CEO’s habits are most productive continues:
- Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey condemns the attitude that 20 hour days are the key to success, purporting quality over quantity when it comes to work hours.
- No sh*t 😉 But isn’t this the same guy who never eats lunch or breakfast so that his work is uninterrupted? Maybe he’s exchanged his focus time with extra meals.
‘Not all time is created equal’
- Daisy Chaffee, Executive Assistant at Intercom weighs in on how to optimize work hours to make way for focus time. I wish more would take such a methodical and considerate approach to schedule — but then I’ve always touted that a trustworthy EA is invaluable to CEO productivity!
Netflix is about remote entertainment, not remote working.
- CEO Reed Hastings doesn’t subscribe to a fully remote working culture: ‘It’s about how we’re most productive — Netflix thrives on human interaction.’ Is virtual a match for person-to-person meetings? Companies will likely adapt to a hybrid WFH/in-office setup, but they will only succeed if they use their data to figure out what will suit their employees best.
Elon Musk doesn’t sleep, he tweets
- Elon Musk claims he sleeps very little, yet he also tweets A LOT. Maybe more focus, more sleep, less Twitter?
People Analytics = Business Analytics
- As RJ Milnor, Head of People Analytics at Uber, laid claim at PAFOW Europe, more leaders are realizing that understanding the dynamics of their team members is crucial for operating a business. It’s all about using your data to improve your productivity.
Remote work needs to be supported, not just permitted
- Darren Murph, Head of Remote at GitLab talks about reevaluating our working culture and the need for a dedicated person to support remote workers. (Hint: the success lies in your data!).
It’s Time to Focus
Guest piece by our Senior Data Scientist at Time is Ltd. — Martin Vrany, PhD. (in Philosophy — Cognitive Science & Neuroscience, Charles University, UC Berkeley)
Modern workplaces often swamp employees with extensive communication — whether in person, by email, or instant messaging (IM). Communication is, of course, vital, as work becomes more collaborative. It is equally important, however, for every employee to have time for focused work without interruption. From this perspective, meetings, messaging and emails are distractions.
We set out to measure focus time using combined data about people’s activities on various communication platforms. The logic is quite simple: every activity reduces a person’s focus, and it takes time for concentration to return to optimum (23 minutes, according to this research). The person remains focused until newly distracted. Using this, we can estimate the evolution of a person’s focus over the course of the day as illustrated on the picture below (based on real data).
This person’s overall focus time is relatively low, because he sent messages consistently throughout the day. A simple way to increase one’s focus is to just communicate less — then there are fewer distractions. But that’s too general a solution: communicating with others is vital. The key to increasing focus while maintaining the same level of communication is to dedicate a few time slots during the day for communication, and then going back to work. Focus level will drop to zero within the allotted time-frame, but when your focus recovers you will spend more time “in the zone”.
At Time Is Ltd. we can not only measure how good people are at maintaining their focus, but also provide insight as to how to balance communication with productivity. This includes when to turn on Slack or check your Outlook, so you are still adequately responsive to colleagues. As a data scientist, I consider it a very interesting optimization problem, because it’s not a simple tradeoff between focus and responsiveness (or communication). It requires striking a delicate balance between the two.
New Focus Flow Analytics by Time is Ltd. — how much time does your team spend in flow?
We have based our methodology on productivity research that focuses on removing distractions and increasing & improving the time employees have in ‘flow’. This time is crucial to working efficiently, yet its quality is consistently diminished by emails and meetings. Our analytics gives you a unique look at how much time your employees spend in flow, the time they really focus on work, not communication — and how to increase that time.
Our clients know that there is a deeper meaning behind improving their time management, at the core of reducing meetings/unnecessary communication is an attempt to introduce more time for work of quality. Trailblazers that are willing to experiment with their organizational approach want to increase the time their employees are working in flow. It’s not just about quantity, but quality.
What else is new with Time is Ltd.?
- Email analytics — email is a sensitive topic with regards to privacy. So here is how we approach this: data is aggregated at the team level, and we do not analyze text. Instead, we focus on interaction frequency — the number of emails generated internally and exchanged externally, is this fragmenting time and causing a superfluous distraction? If you are interested in improving internal communication culture, look into email data and calendar data for a comprehensive overview. Cure your communication overload.
- Privacy is at the core of what we do — and here is how we we deal with data privacy for passive collaboration data
- We became a part of the Kickstart cohort and we are entering the Swiss market, piloting our analytics with a couple of key players on the market.
- We have new metrics and improved collaboration metrics for our G Suite Analytics, Salesforce Analytics, and Webex Analytics