Balancing work and life

  • TECH
  • Monday, 25 May 2015

Dig deeper: Delve will provide insights on individuals’ and teams’ engagement and work-life balance, as well as help manage e-mails, contacts, meetings and social networks.

Work so often bleeds into our lives that we barely notice. A new Microsoft tool could serve as a tracker for what some see as dedication and others, a bad habit.

At the Microsoft Ignite conference for IT professionals, the company announced work-life balance analytics in its new “organisational view” for Microsoft Office Delve, a tool to help Office 365 users manage e-mails, contacts, meetings and social networks. The tool will be available later this year, the company said.

New capabilities in Delve include insights on individuals’ and teams’ engagement, reach and work-life balance.

The tool will allow a user to see, for example, that she was sending 16% of e-mails outside of company hours, a number that might be 10% above the company average.

Users also would be able to see their time spent in meetings, which also could be compared with the rest of the company.

Microsoft announced the new analytics, among other products, at Ignite at a five-day conference that drew 23,000 to Chicago’s McCormick Center.

Julia White, Microsoft’s general manager for the Office marketing team, likened the work-life balance analytics to a “health tracker for your work.”

Though she said the tool might be changed based on feedback before it launches, the preview showed analytics for e-mails, Skype sessions, Yammer conversations and meetings held outside of business hours. The organisation view would provide information at individual and team levels but not include insights on individuals other than the user.

Sue Becker, a productivity trainer and coach for Spark Productivity, which gives group training and executive coaching, said tools can help track productivity but productivity skills trump technology. And though some people may get more accomplished with more meetings, she said, others may work better more privately or through e-mail and phone calls.

The tool “can be a nice snapshot, but it doesn’t mean that there’s a right or wrong way (to work),” Becker said. “A lot depends on their personality and how they work best.”

When it comes to gauging productivity, Becker said it’s most important to focus on the result.

“Oftentimes people are so caught up in their workday, they don’t step back to reflect. To the extent those measurements can help provide that objective eye, I think (Microsoft’s new tool) can be helpful,” she said.

“I prefer to have people focus on the outcomes and say, ‘Am I getting done what I need to get done, when I need to have it done by, with as little effort as necessary?’” — Tribune News Service

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