HR Tech Cube: Technical Insights with Co-founder and President, Humanyze – Ben Waber

Originally published on HR Tech Cube

Ben from Humanyze talks about the role of workplace analytics for organizations & how they quantify the impact of different programs while enhancing productivity.

1. Tell us about your role in Humanyze?
I am the co-founder and president of Humanyze, a workplace analytics company. My role revolves around expanding our workplace productivity and collaboration research, supporting conversations with current and prospective customers, and helping to educate the market on what workplace analytics is and how The Humanyze Organizational Health Score TM (OHS) can support a company’s organizational effectiveness and remote work strategies.

2. Can you tell us about your journey into this market?
My co-founders and I met at the MIT Media Lab where we conducted research on how human communication and behavior affect the outcome of negotiations. Through our research, we found that the way people communicate, and most importantly collaborate, is a good predictor for the success of a company. Throughout the years and through the continuation of our research, Humanyze has evolved to the point where we can confidently look at the way teams collaborate at large companies and use that data to inform their decisions. More importantly, companies can now have a tangible measure of how collaboration is impacting their day to day through our Organizational Health Score.

3. How do you think technology is changing the HR Sector?
We are seeing a big shift into using data to inform people and company decisions.

HR leaders are now looking into tools that help them with that data gathering, but more importantly, tools that help with the interpretation of that data.

4. What role do you think analytics is playing in improving employee performance?
In reality, it’s not about the individual contributors’ performance, rather, companies should be focused on the overall understanding of how engaged, productive, and adaptable their teams are.

The role of analytics is for leaders to look at the big trends and understand whether employees have the right tools, the right space, and the right processes to be effective.

It’s important that these insights are looked at in a way that protects employees. In our case, we aggregate data at the team level and we do not look at content, just the general trends of how the company is collaborating.

5. How do you think analytics can help in boosting the impact of HR initiatives?
It’s difficult for companies to know which specific programs will and won’t work before they’re implemented, or even where those initiatives should start. Analytics can identify which areas of the company are most in need of change as well as quantify the impact of different programs after they’re rolled out. This enables companies to test out multiple programs simultaneously and pick the most effective one and stop wasting time and money on programs that don’t have an impact.

6.What do you think is the risk of remote employee burnout or attrition?
One of the biggest predictors of burnout and attrition is when an employee’s network starts to contract. As we observe data from companies shifting to working from home due to the pandemic, we see those patterns in nearly every organization. It’s a struggle to create and maintain new relationships remotely, and companies need to exert extraordinary effort to connect employees with each other and build a strong culture. It certainly is possible, but it’s much more challenging than in a face-to-face environment.

7. How does Humanyze help firms in ensuring that their physical spaces are not poorly-utilized or sit empty?
We’re less interested in utilization, but rather focus on what behaviors different spaces create. Where do most interactions happen between different departments? Are meeting rooms used for actual meetings or focus work? How do these behaviors map to organizational performance? By making those connections clear, companies can quickly change their space to match their behavioral needs and rework spaces that don’t create ideal behaviors.

8. Can you explain to us in detail about Humanyze’s Organizational Health Score solution?
The Humanyze Organizational Health Score™ (OHS) is composed of indicators that measure the pulse of an organization’s effectiveness. These indicators are science-based and validated. The indicators leverage the data from collaboration patterns as well as information on the typical work day to detect early warning signs and highlight areas that might need some attention. Our AI-based solution is able to gather all of this data that gives you a big picture score, but also can dive deeper into things like employee engagement (work-life balance, intra team collaboration, manager collaboration), team productivity (alignment, meeting culture), and organizational adaptability (flatness and flexibility of the organization).

9. How do you prepare for an AI-centric World?
AI isn’t a magic technology, rather it’s a tool that constantly updates based on new data. The advantage we have today is that new data is being created faster than ever before, and so companies need to adapt to be able to make decisions across the business faster. This includes changing seating, communication technologies, and org charts an order of magnitude faster. I would argue that the culture shift in this kind of rapid decision making is harder than implementing the AI tools themselves.

10. What are the major developments you are planning, in recent times?
Well, until now we have been on the beta stage of our Organizational Health Score, later this fall we will be officially launching this solution. Our product is also continuously evolving in order to bring more value to our customers.
We also recently launched a new Remote Work solution that uses our years of research and Organizational Health Score to analyze the impacts that working from home has on workplace, HR, and digital transformation initiatives, with the goal of improving organizational effectiveness.

11. Can you tell us about your team and how it supports you?
My team is full of people who I trust and genuinely enjoy working with. When I need a break or help with something, people are always eager to step up and proactively try to take things off my plate. Juggling customers on a global scale and young kids starting school is a challenge, so it’s great to have that level of support.

12. Which book are you currently reading?
I tend to dig more into academic papers, and recently I’ve been focusing on novel remote collaboration technologies. A lot of the recent work focuses on remote assistance technologies, but there have also been fascinating developments in brain-computer interfaces and mixed reality technologies. For folks who are interested I’d recommend perusing recent publications from the CHI conference or the Tangible Media and Fluid Interfaces groups at the MIT Media Lab.

13. We have heard that you have a very joyful work culture, we won’t mind having a look at some of the pictures?
We are currently all working remotely, so our work culture has adapted to a new reality. However, we do have different weekly events where employees can drop by in order to connect with others at the company. For example this week we are having a Diversity Showcase where various employees will share a bit about their identity. It’s exciting to learn more from each other and we are continuously looking into how we can help our employees feel connected to others through remote work.

14. Can you give us a glance of the applications you use on your phone?
I use standard work communication apps (Gmail, slack), Twitter for social media, but also LINE for personal communication. LINE is popular in Asia and I really prefer it to the other apps out there, and it also helps me stay in touch with my friends in Japan. I also am still an avid Pokemon Go player!

Last Updated 01 February 2022