How to adapt the office space for new ways of work?

We are a group of architects and organizational scientists that recognized the need for a flexible, highly customizable workspace environment that allows individuals to work in an environment they value. Our expertise comes from two different domains – architecture and organizational science.

Agiliate is developed by LINK Arkitektur, one of the leading architectural practices in the Nordics, and by JOIN21 and our team of organizational science experts.

Our ground-breaking software service started as an R&D project in 2019, with a mission to improve architectural space planning, based on digital insights into how organizations objectively work.
We’re triggered by facts – not fixed ideas.

By using AI analytics, we developed a one-of-a-kind approach to offices and other workplace issues. Our goal is to help leaders build next-generation offices and resolve hybrid work dilemmas using objective data.


How does it work?

Our team developed a software service aimed to improve architectural space planning, based on digital insights about how organizations work. The process is based on objective data.
Using our digital survey, Agiliate detects when coworkers interact with the workplace, and how they prefer to work. The survey takes approximately 20 minutes to complete.

The collected data is processed by AI analytics in search of patterns that display how a specific organization actually works – how it collaborates, and how well it is integrated across departments.



Who is it for?

– Organizations undergoing change and re-organization.
– Office tenants on the move, considering relocation.
– Owners of office buildings who want to front-run the needs of tenants.
– Developers of business clusters seeking the optimal match between tenants.
– Advisors of commercial real estate, brokers, technical consultants, and other architects.


Why is it relevant now?


We need to do all we can to incentivize people to work smarter, not harder. Often, we hear leaders say things like: “Strategic alignment is everything.” True alignment requires that we challenge our own assumptions. Often corporate leaders assume that because they established a good system years ago, everyone should simply fall into line and play by the rules. That’s not good enough. We need to think outside the box in order to drive cost-efficiency gains.


“Don’t build what you think your employees want. Build what they need by communicating with them.”

– Michael Ford, Microsoft’s vice president of global real estate and security


Organizations are paying too much for office spaces that do not fit their employee’s needs.

Many leaders all over the world are still looking for ways to increase engagement and innovation, improve productivity, and ultimately drive down the costs of their businesses.

Agiliate challenges the status quo. We are here to make a change – and help organizations save money and time by finding ways to streamline business processes, ensuring teams are working efficiently every day. By leveraging our expertise in architecture and technology-integrated business solutions, we can do all we can to incentivize people to work smarter, not harder. It is time to reimagine the workplace with Agilate.



Agiliate your office

Agiliate will help organizations become more flexible and agile. You can be one of them.


PRESS RELEASE: AGILIATE LAUNCH – digital tool for efficient workplace design

How to adapt the office space for hybrid ways of work?

Previously, the organization had to adapt to the office, now it is the other way around…

Visionary leaders globally are looking for the right hybrid work formula for their organization. They know that good work ethic creates commitment, productivity, innovation, and competitive advantage. At the same time, the flexibility associated with home offices will increase trust and engagement. The most valuable experts and top talents require flexibility – if this factor is lacking, many will find a company that offers flexibility.

A summary of workplace research globally shows, on average, that 20% of employees want to return to the office full time, and many have a job that requires it. 20% prefer to work from home, and 60% want a hybrid setup. The biggest mistake managers make when making ‘back to office’ strategies is to take a top-down perspective. To create competitiveness and ensure that experts and talents choose your company, the hybrid process must be employee-focused, with freedom and flexibility built into the design.


What is Agiliate?

Agiliate is a planning tool for companies considering reorganizing office space, in connection with relocation or redevelopment. Through a digital participation process, today’s situation and tomorrow’s needs are mapped. This is how the tool is used to recommend appropriate area distribution, adapted to the company’s culture, collaboration, and workplace needs.

The tool is used to map employees’ work processes, collaboration patterns, use of technology, time and place, to find the most appropriate way to perform tasks. These are key premises for the newly developed digital tool, jointly developed by LINK Architecture and JOIN21.


Resource-saving process

With the reopening of the society, there are new opportunities for smarter organizations of the work arena, such as network offices (co-working), company offices, and home offices. Example: An IT company moves to new offices and considers 50% space occupancy. This means that 50% of the employees will be in the office at all times. The other 50% are in a home office or work in a network office. They have mapped their organization as a network and have identified when (days and times) people will be in the office, and how the office can be adapted to the organization’s needs. Measures are done to improve productivity through agility, collaboration, work culture, presence, social zones, and office types.

By using the Agiliate tool, the workplace needs of the organization is adapted, and not vice versa. Reorganizing offices is usually a time-consuming process, but Agiliate tool uses new method and technology that shortens the process. Workplace planning becomes more precise because solutions are tailored to the organization and users’ needs, based on data-driven insights.


Reducing costs

An important solution to improve your company’s flexibility is to do analyses of workflow, collaboration, and physical organization.

Such a combo is possible with new digital tools such as Agiliate, developed by the technology company JOIN21 and the architectural firm LINK. Digital mapping with Agiliate helps companies reduce the risk of incorrect planning and office allocation.

Incorrect design of rental areas can be very expensive and result in poor energy and environmental footprint. Agiliate drastically reduces the time spent on internal user processes and adapts area and space programs for hybrid ways of work.

The method provides more precise analysis of the need for work, which reduces the risk of having to rebuild, or change the office after moving in. With Agiliate, office space can be planned with great precision, low risk and reduced expenses for office space and related facilities.


Interdisciplinary collaboration

JOIN21’s insights and competence in organizational science, use of digital tools, flexibility and knowledge flow, correspond very well to LINK Architecture’s competence related to the physical workplace.

We consider JOIN21 and LINK expertise to be a perfect match since they both contribute to the development of a new workplace design tool that will revolutionize traditional user processes by using objective data and making the workplace more efficient. This is something that the market really needs now.


Optimal workflow

JOIN21 and LINK are developing a unique tool for companies that are considering moving or reorganizing office space, in connection with relocation or remodeling. Through a digital participation process and data collection, the current situation and tomorrow’s needs are mapped. The tool is used to recommend a good workflow, area distribution, and workplace setup adapted to the company’s workplace, organization, and collaboration.

Agiliate adapts the workplace design to the organization and not the other way around. Reorganizing offices is usually a time-consuming process. New methods and technology shorten the process and save organizations large sums of money. Workplace planning becomes more precise because solutions are tailored to organization and user’s needs, based on data-driven insights.


Since our method is an action, we needed a verb that describes “how to do something more agile”, ie “to agiliate something”. Agiliate is thus not only a new digital tool but also a new verb derived from the adjective agile. “We had to allow ourselves to agile with words as well”, explains the duo Jan Taug, Ph.D. in JOIN21, and Pontus Brusewitz in LINK Architecture.



Download Press Release PDF here.





Jan Taug

Leader and founder, JOIN21

[email protected]
+47 901 22 900


Pontus Brusewitz

Professional leader IARKInterior

[email protected]
+47 915 27 978


Return to office 2021 – What will the office look like?

2021 office trends will come in many forms. The pandemic revealed some truths about how we organize work, what we value, and how we plan to motivate the employees to do better work. We still do not know which trends will become pillars of business strategy over the next five years as companies reimagine their work hierarchies, work-life balance, employee engagement, collaboration, and more. 


Rethinking collaboration

No matter what industry you are in collaboration is the key. But there seems to be confusion on how people define collaboration. For some, it is about being in the same room as other colleagues, but 2020 taught us it is far more complex than that.

Only one in ten companies expects all their staff to return to the office when the pandemic dies down, the NABE report suggests.

Did you know only one in ten companies expect all their staff to come back to the office after the pandemic? A hybrid work model will most likely be the choice for many companies. If organizations decide to give employees the flexibility to work on-site and remotely part of the week, offices will need to redesign.

Hot desks could become a trend. Companies could change personal desks with tabletops that employees can book for the days that they plan to come to the office. Office spaces must become more open and easy to change, so different employees can collaborate on projects.


A hub and spoke model

As offices around the world closed, some people took advantage of working remotely and decided to relocate to more affordable areas of the city, or even to completely new locations. This is where the concept of a hub-and-spoke office comes into place. Companies could maintain one (smaller) central workspace, while building satellite offices closer to where employees live, for e.g., in the suburbs.

In the future when we think about it, we do see the majority of Googlers’ roles will continue to be tied to a particular office and that they will live within some reasonable distance of that office.

– Sundar Pichai, Google CEO

A hub-and-spoke model is extremely efficient when it comes to communicating information. It is a structured arrangement where departments work closely together and provide support to each other. This allows each department to focus on its most critical tasks without having to answer questions or wait for responses from other departments. In this concept, each department has a “spoke”, which is responsible for overseeing work in that department.

Google, Twitter, and Amazon are already starting to meet employees where they are. Google CEO Sundar Pichai said: “In the future when we think about it, we do see the majority of Googlers’ roles will continue to be tied to a particular office and that they will live within some reasonable distance of that office,”. Amazon recently announced investing $1.4 billion in expanding offices in six cities around the US.


New habits – innovative design

Although many employees will spend more time working from home, occasionally they will have to come to the office and meet with their co-workers. Rather than focusing on how things look, the design focus will be on creating spaces that spark engagement. Meeting rooms will be equipped with videoconferencing or VR meeting technology so employees who work remotely could also join.

For companies to entice remote workers back into the office, they will need to provide facilities for people who want to work offline.

The objective of the 2021 office is to make it as inviting as possible to anyone who wants to work there. All the while remaining fiscally responsible, environmentally conscious, and flexible enough to accommodate the diverse needs of organizations.



Over the past ten years, design trends have emerged in an almost predictable order. The catch is that these are highly speculative about what 2021 will bring. We might see a return to a more familiar form of architecture, for example, or even a completely new direction. Whatever comes next, there’s no denying what an impact these trends had on the way we think about offices, both inside and out. The future of the office is about changing, not disappearing.

“This is an exciting opportunity,” Brent Capron, the interior design director says, “if companies really take the moment and invest in research to understand where their employees have been more productive or satisfied and have found meaning in what they do. They can tailor-make these options moving forward to strengthen their business and culture. Instead of trying to pay attention to the trends everyone else is doing, look for opportunities to make a custom solution and have more of an impact for your organization.”





Five hybrid work mistakes leaders make (and how to avoid them)

Research shows that nine out of ten organizations are going for the combination of remote and on-site working. McKinsey surveyed 100 executives across geographic regions and industries. From findings, customer satisfaction and productivity increased during the pandemic.

Even though nine out of ten executives are ready to accept a hybrid work model, most are still not sure how exactly should their organizations adapt to it. Only a third of them said they have created a high-level implementation plan and a third of leaders think their organizations lack alignment on a high-level vision among the top team.

While 10% of companies say they have a detailed vision in place, only 1/3 have started negotiating policies and implementing those.

-MCKinsey & Company

There are many misconceptions about the hybrid work model and it’s important to understand the right way to implement it. We found that leaders often make these common mistakes that ultimately prevent them from reaching their hybrid work goals:


1. Not giving everyone an equal chance to participate 

Internal collaboration needs planning. Collaboration in the hybrid work model needs even more planning. Many companies hired whole teams during the pandemics and some of those employees are going to meet their coworkers for the first time. Simply thinking they are going to blend in like others who had the chance to work together before the pandemic is not going to happen.

On the other hand, some people are going to continue to work remotely, and leaders need to find a way how to build a more inclusive work culture. It’s not easy to express your ideas if you are joining a physical meeting virtually.

Make sure that online participants have a chance to contribute to the meetings. Give them time to address what is being said in the room. It is easy to overlook the power of eye contact physical participants can easily make during the meeting. If you rush through a meeting, online members may miss important parts of the discussion. If possible, delegate someone who is not participating in the meetings to make sure online employees see/hear everything in the room.


2. Not allowing flexible work schedule  

Flexibility is key for the future of work. If we are going to embrace the hybrid work model and really make it work, we must become more flexible. Leaders need to rethink traditional 9-5 working hours and start valuing productivity more than formal work rules.

In fact, people who work from home typically have different daily schedules than those who work at the office. For example, parents with kids need time to pick them up from school, caregivers with elderly parents need time to help with food preparation, etc… Employees need to find a way to fit important life events into their day.

A flexible schedule is crucial to a hybrid-work model, where the company can maintain just enough structure to coordinate. Leaders can always designate fixed times for synchronous collaboration so employees can plan workday around it. Some companies established that teams need 4 hours of overlap in a workday for a successful collaboration.


3. Thinking all employees have the same needs- offering one size fits all solution 

Last year people had a chance to experience working remotely. Based on different circumstances everyone came to a different conclusion. Some people loved it and are trying to make a case to work from home forever, but some did not enjoy it so much.

Returning to work is a complicated process. Given the huge impact that the transition to in-person work will have on employees’ lives, they want to have a voice in the process. Before formulating return-to-work plans, organizations should survey their employees to understand employees’ needs and concerns.

– David Niu, CEO TINYpulse

If your designated workplace is your kitchen table, and you are trying to meet a Zoom with bored children, and annoyed spouses complaining in the background, chances are you are not going to be happy if your company goes fully remote.

So, it is all about finding the right balance and talking to your employees.
Simply deciding people should work two or three days a week in the office based on gut feelings/your preferences is not going to work. Leaders shouldn’t look at employees’ needs in aggregate. Instead, they should make sure they have the right data and understand employees’ needs so they can find a flexible solution.


 4. Copy-pasting old practices into a hybrid work environment 

When we were forced to work from home during the pandemic, we all noticed how old office practices did not work in a remote environment. The same goes for the new hybrid work setup. Optimizing employee performance takes more than just defining your KPIs.

Leaders and HR managers need to identify employees requiring extra support and think about building a sense of community. If there is one thing the pandemic thought us is the importance of community.


5. Not being humble enough

40% of those working in the EU began remote work full-time because of the pandemic.

If someone told you 2 years ago that working from home will become the norm for millions of workers in the EU and worldwide nobody would believe it.

Research shows that close to 40% of those working in the EU began remote work full-time because of the pandemic. Let’s face it, nobody knows what the future holds, and leaders need to admit that. The best leaders right now are the ones who are open and brave enough to say: “I am not sure what is the best work model for our company at the moment, but here is what I think we should do. We are all on the same team, let’s keep learning, and work together towards better solutions. “



It is important that leaders become present and accessible. Finding ways to engage and hear employees out are going to be key factors in making the hybrid work model successful. Leaders are facing big challenges in the future but also a wonderful opportunity to change the work culture as we know it.

This is an unbelievable opportunity to remake culture. It’s rare in a leader’s lifetime to have such a clean drop for reshaping how you run the place.

– Bill Schaninger


How to leverage data offered by the Network Leadership Applied Course


Enroll in our Network leadership course and discover where your organization is today and where it can be tomorrow with the help of our experts.

Why join the Network Leadership Applied Course?

We provide companies the opportunity to experiment. The Network Leadership applied course gives you a simple and easy way to help you decide if Organizational Network Analysis is the right tool for you.

The program will help you understand what network analysis is, as well as see how a pilot study works. The pilot study is a simple way to get initial insights on key problem areas and possibilities of improvement with the help of our dynamic data visualization tool.

The Network Leadership Applied Course is focused on your organization and can help solve:

– productivity issues

– disruptions related to COVID

– difficulties in talent retention

– fallbacks in innovation

– and many more.


The time and effort commitments are low and at the end of our Network Leadership Applied Course, you will have the necessary information to assess if our method is right for you.

What is Organizational Network Analysis?

The core idea behind the ONA is that connectedness and exchange of information and knowledge play a vital role in the performance of teams and the whole organization. To truly understand how your organization works you need to be able to visualize and analyze the ties between employees.

In a Deloitte survey, only 9 percent of business leaders truly felt they understood their internal networks. Organizational network analysis helps leaders understand formal and informal networks in their organization and it reveals powerful data they can turn into actionable insights.


How does the tool work?

Making business decisions in the current context is hard and demanding. We offer a practical methodology that uses business intelligence to your company’s benefit.

Explore internal communication and map functional networks within your company.

It is like Google Earth for business and provides hard data. Zoom in and see teams and individuals, zoom out and see projects, departments and the external network of customer partners and suppliers.

This dynamic data visualization tool lets you manipulate and filter data to get the insights you need in real-time. The insights provide an unbiased view of how your organization works so you can fundament your strategic decisions better.


What network analysis is not?

Organizational Network Analysis is not an abstract method. It does not rely on opinions, biased or superficial observations. It enables managers to eliminate cognitive prejudice by providing a full view of all social and functional relations within a company.


Why choose JOIN21?

JOIN21 is a fast-growing Norwegian company set up by five expert PhDs with proven business experience.

JOIN21’s network analysis approach is proven to: accelerate digital transformation, improve innovation, build agile organizations and teams, streamline processes and lower cost. It uncovers your organization’s inner mechanics, informal networks and behavior insights, and provides unique insights to boost engagement, collaboration and competitiveness. We are focusing on building a next-generation company where good people care about building organizations for the 21st century.



Enroll in our Network leadership course and discover where your organization is today and where it can be tomorrow with the help of our experts.




Hybrid work models – What it is and what to expect in the future?

For generations, the workweek looked the same. Before March 2020, alternative work models were only available for a lucky few, mostly tech employees. Due to a global pandemic, 70 percent of full-time employees in the US worked from home. Organizations around the world had to immediately adapt to a work from home reality. Zoom and Teams meetings replaced chatting with colleagues and your home turned into an office (at least it was supposed to).

It’s been a year since we’re not going to the office regularly, so what do employees and employers think about remote work now? At first, it might have looked appealing, but there is much more to It. Is company culture experiencing erosion, do people feel work-life imbalances? Are we going back to the traditional work model and what is hybrid work?


Hybrid work – The new norm?

In these challenging times, flexibility is the key, and that is exactly what the hybrid work model offers. There are many variations to it and it’s up to companies to organize the workforce most suitably. Some organizations might decide to give all employees the flexibility to work on-site and remotely part of the week. Other companies might offer either-or options, so employees work full-time remote or full-time on-site. And others might do a mix of both.

Remote work helped people take back control over the working week and organize it according to their needs. Working parents got more family time, people who previously spent hours stuck in traffic didn’t have to commute and in general, people had more time for personal obligations. Research from Wakefield shows that nearly half of their respondents (48%) say they’d like to mix things up and work some days from the office and some days remotely. It’s important to mention that interest in hybrid work isn’t specific to knowledge workers. Employees in industries that normally require on-site presence —including 61% of healthcare employers, 41% of construction/manufacturing workers, and 34% of retail and hospitality workers— say they would prefer to work under a hybrid model. “There’s this new realization and awareness of how you work best, what’s important in life, and how you want to spend your time,” says Janet Pogue McLaurin, the global research principal at Gensler.


Remote work – It’s not all black and white

Problems many employees felt working from home during the last year are isolation and lack of social interactions with colleagues. Work From Homers are also working longer hours, spending more time on meetings, and keeping up with more communication channels according to Gallup. Although remote work offers more flexibility it’s also a lot harder to disconnect with rising workloads. It is easier to unplug when you have a dedicated space to work in. Leaving the office at the end of the day used to create a natural transition in your day and traveling home gave you time to decompress. It’s easy to forget those boundaries when your kitchen table is your office and it’s so simple to send one more email or tweak a slide on a presentation you’re working on a workplace change strategist, and CEO and founder of the consultancy Flex+Strategy Group in New York pointed out the importance of employee training on how to make the work-life balance.

“Simply handing an employee a laptop and downloading Zoom or some other collaborative software is not enough to help employees manage their work and lives through the pandemic and beyond,”

– Cali Williams Yost, Workplace change strategist.


What do employers think about hybrid work?

According to a survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers, 68% of executives think employees should be in the office at least three days a week to preserve the company culture, once the pandemic is over. It looks like leaders are keener to come back to the office than workers. PwC survey found top managers think in-person interactions are going to help strengthen company culture and internal collaboration. But a lot of workers don’t feel that way and are not ready to give up their newfound flexibility.

“Many employees (41%) say they would consider taking a job with a lower salary if the company offered a hybrid work model. Furthermore, 47% of employees say they would probably leave their job if the employer didn’t offer a hybrid work model once the pandemic is over.  “If you’re not offering these kinds of evolving benefits, there’s a competitive disadvantage, “

– Lynne Cazaly, workplace specialist.


Hybrid work and different industries

The tech industry is already accepting the new work model. Google CEO Sundar Pichai sent an e-mail to employees announcing workers could now enjoy four “work-from-anywhere weeks” to give “everyone more flexibility around summer and holiday travel.” Spotify, Twitter, Square, Unilever, Atlassian allowed employees to work from anywhere, forever.

On the other hand, the titans of banking are not that willing to keep up with the hybrid work game. JPMorgan Chase chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon said he is fed up with ZOOM calls and remote work and announced offices will make a comeback. Goldman and Sachs CEO David Solomon called working from home an ‘aberration’. “I do think for a business like ours which is an innovative, collaborative apprenticeship culture, this is not ideal for us and it’s not a new normal,” Solomon said.

What do numbers show? PwC’s US Remote Work Survey showed that few executives think a company can survive a completely remote set up. The question was: If COVID-19 was not a concern, how often do you think a typical employee needs to be in the office, if at all, in order to maintain a distinctive culture for the company?

These are the results:

So, it all comes down to a hybrid work model. There is no set template. Companies will have to decide how and when to go back to the office – and in which scope. Leaders need to rethink productivity and what goals do they want to accomplish? There needs to be a fine balance between keeping your employees satisfied and strengthening the company culture in any work environment.




Future Leaders Are Those Who Understand The Value of Connectedness

Organizational network analysis, or ONA, is a step forward in people analytics. It represents the organization as a network of relationships, and at the same time reinvents the way we look at relationships between people in the organization. ONA data can provide us with unique and deeper insights into how better connectedness can improve performance and design initiatives that help team members thrive. ONA provides a better understanding of how people are connected, who they turn to for advice, who they trust and how they communicate, expounds Starling D. Hunter, Partner and Chief Research Officer at JOIN21. He will deliver a session with the topic The Business Case for Organizational Network Analysis focusing on why organizational network analysis can be used to bridge gaps in communication across departmental silos, hierarchical levels, and remote locations during the Nordic People Analytics Summit 2021.


Hyperight: Hi Starling, we are excited to have you and JOIN21 joining us at this year’s Nordic People Analytics Summit. Before we go into more topic-oriented questions, please tell us a few words about yourself and your background so we can get to know you.

Starling D. Hunter: Glad to! I began my professional career in the aeronautics industry in the 1980s, working as an electrical engineer at Boeing Aerospace in the USA. After five years in that role, I decided to pursue an MBA at Duke University with a focus in general management—a big change, or so I thought! My first position post-MBA was in the HR group in the Engineering Technology division at Exxon Chemical, before it merged with Mobil. Being of the intellectually curious bent, I eventually returned to Duke to pursue a PhD in management.

I began my subsequent academic career as an assistant professor at the MIT Sloan of Management and continued it at Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business. While my teaching and academic research interests have always been at the intersection of technology and organizations, in many ways I remain an engineer at heart, that is to say, someone interested in the practical application of theory to real-world challenges. Thus, it’s no surprise that I found my way into a start-up where our focus is on applying ideas developed in academia and supported by mountains of research to the very real collaboration challenges faced by 21st-century leaders in technology-intensive settings.


Hyperight: Your Nordic People Analytics Summit presentation will focus on The Business Case for Organizational Network Analysis, where you will use the case of Tesla to explain how and why organizational network analysis can be used to bridge gaps in communication across departmental silos, hierarchical levels, and remote locations. Could you please elaborate more on organizational network analysis and how it can help organizations?

Starling D. Hunter: In short, organizational network analysis or ONA for short is a name given to a set of techniques for representing an organization as a network of relationships, as well as for diagnosing that network. The org chart is an example with which we are all very familiar. It represents an organization as a network based on the reporting relationship. That is to say, it shows us who reports to whom in the organization. This is also known as the chain of command.

ONA just extends the set of relationships under consideration. Those other relationships include, but are not limited to, knowing which people seek each other out for their expertise or advice, which people trust or provide support to one another, and which people communicate intensively via workplace collaboration platforms. The first thing you notice when organizations, as represented as maps of these other relationships, is that they appear much less hierarchical than organization charts.

What we know from the research is that better connectedness means better performance. First, we know that when connections between workers cut across the chain of command—departmental lines and hierarchical levels—the better that organization or unit or team tends to perform. Secondly, we know that the more such boundary-spanning connections an individual worker has, the greater their performance tends to be. That said, individuals and departments differentiate greatly in how well connected they are. Once a leader can see how and how well she is connected to others, and see the same thing for members of her team or department, then targeted interventions can be developed to help less-connected teams and members to flourish.


Hyperight: What are the challenges of traditional people analytics that ONA can help solve?

Starling D. Hunter: In short, while it shares the same goals as all other approaches to people analytics, ONA represents a different, yet complementary approach to achieving them.

All people analytics initiatives have the same goal—to help leaders make better business and talent decisions, decisions informed by higher quality data. The results should be improved performance—both internally and in relation to peers, as well as more streamlined processes like recruiting, retention, engagement, promotion, innovation, etc.

Like other approaches to people analytics, ONA aims to identify the factors that drive individual and organizational performance. The key difference is found in the data.

Traditional approaches to people analytics place on what we call “attributes”, i.e. key characteristics of individuals such as their personality traits, age, tenure, prior experience, educational level, skills and abilities, gender, potential, motivation level, place of work, career goals, etc. Data of this kind provide insights into performance.

ONA takes a different approach. It derives insights from what people do, specifically who they are connected and how. Again, there is a wealth of evidence showing that data obtained via ONA network data explains performance better than attributes alone and even better in combination with them. Thus, it’s complementary to whatever people analytics strategy a company is already using. That said, it requires some training to know how to collect, understand, and apply network data. Our suite of three—Join Baseline, Join Insight, and Join Collaboration—helps organizations do that.


Hyperight: As we are slowly returning to our new-old way of working, it becomes evident that Chief HR officers need a flexible and smooth post-COVID-19 recovery plan. What considerations should organisations take into account as they prepare their return-to-work plans? And how can people analytics and organizational network analysis help with that?

Starling D. Hunter: This is a terrific question. We’re working with former clients right now to help address this issue. In short, ONA offers some very unique insights. As you recall, ONA represents organizations as networks of relationships, not just the formal ones (who reports to whom) but also the informal ones like knowledge and information sharing, advice-seeking, friendship, trust, communication via collaboration platforms. Consider one unnamed organization that we worked with pre-Covid. From that prior work, we knew already how well the organization was connected across units, hierarchical levels, and locations. We also knew which individuals were most well-connected and whose connections spanned key boundaries and demographic groups. Our key finding is that the people in this vital—and often unrecognized role—are largely the same. What has changed is the strength of the connections between people. That is to say, the same people still trust and support each other; they are still communicating and seeking each other out for advice. They’re just doing so just less intensively and less frequently.

Technology in the form of email and collaboration platforms like Workplace by Facebook has played an important role, as well. People who communicated primarily in this way have largely continued to do so at pre-covid levels while those that relied on high-bandwidth communication like face-to-face meetings have seen the most decrease in the strength of their connections. A few interventions derive from these network insights. Firstly, because the strongest relationships were among people communicating in-person, time, space, and opportunity needs to be allowed for those people to re-engage, to re-establish their connections. Where people are coming back in groups, we recommend taking their pre- and post-COVID levels of connection into account. All else equal, people who’ve not stayed well-connected should be prioritized for opportunities to meet again in-person. Secondly, those key individuals who maintained high levels of connected, especially across key boundaries, need to be explicitly recognized for their efforts. In addition, debriefings with them about how they managed, what additional support they need(ed), what they learned, etc. should be undertaken. Similarly, the same needs to be done where the network of relationships fragmented the most. Valuable lessons are contained there for how work, the formal structure, and key processes need to be re-designed.


“The future leaders of our best organizations will arise from those who understand and can leverage the value of connectedness across formal and social boundaries.”


Hyperight: As a final point, how do you see people and workforce analytics evolving in the next couple of years?

Starling D. Hunter: ONA has consistently shown up on top HR trends surveys for the last decade but has yet to go “mainstream.” The reasons for this include limited knowledge of concept among leaders, poor communication of its benefits by its promoters, and a lack of user-friendly applications.  Thus, we see ONA and software-based solutions that support it assuming a more prominent role in people analytics approaches. In addition, because network data is not expensive to collect, represent, or maintain, the benefits of ONA will, we expect, be equally available to small and medium-sized enterprises who may not have large budgets to devote to people analytics initiatives. Finally, we expect that through the addition of the network perspectives on people analytics, leaders and individual contributors will be able to view their organizations and roles within them differently. Recall that some of the first modern org charts were developed in the US in the late 1800s in the railroad industry. It was a patriarchal era where work was largely linear and mechanical. Industries and companies were organized hierarchically and knowledge, like formal power, came from the top. With the days of the Industrial Revolution now firmly behind us, the Information Revolution needs a new paradigm for organizations, one that emphasizes flows of knowledge in a direct, peer-to-peer fashion. The future leaders of our best organizations will arise from those who understand and can leverage the value of connectedness across formal and social boundaries.

Learn more about the Nordic People Analytics Summit



The Era of Remote Working: How To Stay Productive

Workplace culture needed to change, and organizations and workers around the world had to learn how to stay at the same level of productivity while working from home. 

One big misconception people have is that working from home necessarily means that employees are going to be less productive. According to the Airtasker study, remote workers “worked 1.4 more days every month or 16.8 more days every year than people who worked in an office.”

But on the other hand, it’s important to mention that researchers also found that working from home can be more stressful than working at the office. Around 29% of remote working respondents said they noticed signs of work-life imbalances.  Only 23% of office workers mentioned the same problem. One likely reason for this imbalance could be that those looking after kids are faced with extra pressures – having to take on more unpaid care work because of changeable nursery and school arrangements.  

In the initial phase to shift to remote work, people had to focus on immediate problems – how to work without the right desk, how to get a laptop at the right height, and how to communicate effectively with each other online. These short-term problems may now be resolved, but it’s taken longer to think about the more complex issue and that is work productivity. 
To help you stay concentrated and well organized during this remote working phase while fighting stress and trying to stay efficient, here are some tips to help you out. 


Sleep hygiene – Bed is not an alternative for an office 

So, first thing’s first: sit up straight, eat some breakfast and get out of the bed.  The temptation of working from bed is strong but you really shouldn’t turn your mattress into your office. There are both physical and psychological consequences if you spend most of your time working in bed. 

According to a study done in November 2020, 72% of 1,000 Americans said they had worked remotely from their bed since the pandemic started (a 50% increase since the pandemic started).
One in ten said they spent most of their time, 20-40 hours or more working in bed. Younger workers are more likely to choose this option. A good example of that is the fact that in the UK, workers aged 18-34 are less likely to have a proper desk and are twice as likely to choose to work from bed. 

Sleep hygiene is important, so that means you should start developing good sleep habits. Follow a bedtime routine, try going to sleep and waking up at the same time every dayand most importantly keep your bed reserved for only bed-related activities. If you keep working in bed, you’re going to have a higher likelihood of being awake due to feelings of stress and anxiety, because you’re brain and body will stop associating bed with rest. 


Take breaks ”Pomodoro” Technique 

It is easy to forget that you need a break when you are under pressure to meet the deadline. If you’re feeling drained or frustrated with work, get up from your desk, walk around your neighborhood, call a friend, grab a healthy snack, etc. Just move away from your computer and stop trying to get everything done at once. Make time work with you with Pomodoro Technique. It’s very simple, and it consists of 5 simple steps: 

1. Pick a task you want to work on. 

2. Devote 25 minutes to it. 

3. Once the time is up put a checkmark on a sheet of paper. 

4. Take a 5 min break (this marks the completion of one “Pomodoro”). 

5. Take a longer break after every 4 Pomodoros. 

So “Pomodoro” is 25 minutes long, and you need to take a 3–5-minute break in between. Breaks are the key components of this technique. Even though it may seem tempting to skip taking a break when you’re in the zone, they are super important to reduce your mental fatigue in the long run.


Organize your workday – Stick to your schedule 

You need to pay more attention to your daily schedule and try giving it more structure if you’re working by yourself. Although it may seem satisfying that your working hours are more fluid than usual, following a routine will help you feel more efficient.  If you used to come to the office at 9 a.m., then you shouldn’t change this habit. If you want to maintain the same productivity level, don’t get sidetracked from your usual work schedule. Make your life easier with simple planning and try to sketch out a list of important tasks for tomorrow in the evening, then analyze it in the morning while you’re enjoying your favorite coffee. The Airtasker survey showed that 30% of remote employees said that keeping a to-do list helped their productivity.


Pinpoint your distractions – Focus is the key

Phone calls, social media notifications, Netflix, the list of potential distractions is never-ending According to a Gallup poll, more than 50 percent of US smartphone owners say they check their phone a few times an hour.  A good way to prevent yourself from looking at your phone every other minute is to turn off all unnecessary notifications during working hours. The same goes for your computer if youre using social media on your work desktop.  

If you’re having trouble maintaining your focus while working, try playing some background music. Check out an AIdriven music app designed to help people concentrate. 

The most important thing is to identify your major distractions. For example, if you know you’ll get distracted with the mess you made the night before in your kitchentake time to clean it up before you start working.  



If you never worked remotely before, chances are you’re not going to nail it from the beginning. It takes time to learn how to manage your time, find the perfect working spot, and learn how to separate your work life from your private life while you’re in the same space all day. 

Don’t blame yourself if you are not in love with remote work as all digital nomads on social networks. Focus on small tasks and try to identify how much work you complete every day. It’s like with anything in life, the more you do it the better you become.  




Using ONA to Strengthen Value-Creation in Multinational Business Clusters

Explorer HQ is a network of technology companies that share offices and resource communities across Europe. The cluster consists of more than 40 growth businesses that shared a common set of shared values and a collaboration platform where magic was supposed to take place.

However, as the business cluster had grown, so had the need to handle a growing number of tasks in a cost-efficient and timely manner.  Nicolai Fasting, the CEO of Explorer HQ, had a feeling there was great potential in the network that had not been released.

“I needed to understand how we could enhance the flow of knowledge and innovation power of each company and the cluster as a whole, as a means to create better customer experiences on the other end”, Fasting says. “But how you pinpoint how to do that is a different matter entirely.”

Fasting and his team set up the following goals:

– Identify the experts already available in the EHQ network to utilize their strengths (and avoid external expertise)

– Increase value creation through more cross-company projects and innovation processes.

– Establish a culture of trust and collaboration to capitalize on relevant business opportunities across companies.

– Facilitate overall network connectivity across cities to help people grow their networks.

– Identify important network driving factors crucial to maintaining a growth environment.


Enter: Network Analysis

For leaders accustomed to traditional chain-of-command organizational theory, however, understanding how the organization scores along values like collaboration and innovation is nascent and tricky to measure when all you have to look at is your organizational chart.

Nicolai Fasting reached out to JOIN21, a company that uses Organizational Network Analysis (ONA) to let organizations view how they work as networks – rather than hierarchies.

JOIN21’s technology helps leaders gather the necessary data points through surveys and technology, and then use that knowledge to drill down and see how each person or smaller network-in-the-network actually contributes. Simple tools and measures then help you push these values upwards.

“Our network analytics technology is customizable to your needs. It gives you a map. The map shows you your silos, bottlenecks, informal leaders and outliers, your experts and go-to people”, says Jan Taug, a JOIN21 co-founder. “And to be honest, the results will probably surprise you”.


What the cluster looked like as a network

JOIN21 gathered data points from digital surveys and workshops. The results were interpreted and processed with the management community – and then shared with all the participants, who could see their own position (but no one else’s identity) in the network. This is one of the views of the network:

This is what the network looked like when first measured. Each color represents a company.

The network was measured twice with one year between, showing the flow of expertise between companies and people across the business clusters locations.


Each dot represents an employee. The arrows between the dots imply who each employee consults with or sends information to. The thickness of the line represents the frequency of consultation. The larger the dot, the larger the volume of requests from other people.

So what were they able to see? The main findings were that sharing and utilization of expertise across the EHQ network were largely dependent on 5 central people in different locations. It is a question of interpretation whether these people are necessary brokers, or if they act as bottlenecks.

The analysis also showed several silos, companies that were isolated in the network and not employing expertise in the cluster well. This contradicted a great desire to work across expert domains and companies.


Using the insights to craft a better organization

Based on the findings and visualizations, Explorer HQ and JOIN21 were able to craft a number of strategic initiatives aiming to involve all the companies in building stronger relationships across locations, companies and individuals. They,

– Initiated a program to monitor key values in the business cluster over time, utilizing expertise across companies to work smarter and faster.

– Created an improved onboarding program for new members.

– Identified experts in the organization to improve knowledge flow on the existing collaboration platform.

– Built a number of ‘expert communities’ across the collaboration platform.

– Established a virtual management community to increase value creation in key areas agreed upon by the companies.


Nicolai Fasting was pleasantly surprised by the depth of insights gained.

“The greatest benefit from working with JOIN21 is to make our network of companies tangible and visible. It’s right there on the paper in front of you! It shows you the informal leaders you need to empower, the silos you have to tear down and the bottlenecks that need opening”, Fasting says. “Rather than relying on consultants telling us what is wrong with your organization based on who knows what data, you can see what the network actually looks like and act on it. Having objective data like this is a requisite to be data-driven and make decisions that are not based on biases or superficial understandings. It allows everyone in the network to trust and believe in the data so they’re actually willing to act on it.”


Durable changes

When they remeasured the data one year later, there had been some durable changes:

– Enhanced communication and practical interaction across the companies and locations.

– Several joint projects of more than 3 companies with interdisciplinary expertise and geographically dispersed representation.

– Increased number of knowledge brokers in the network.

– Updated the brand’s positioning and improved marketing.

– A generally more open culture and increased interaction.

– Leaders and experts utilized the network’s inherent expertise much better.


“For us as a network, these were solid outcomes that we could not have gotten without JOIN21’s organizational network analysis. It completely lifted the veil on information that we could certainly sense, but never see”, says Fasting. “Having a way to gather data and visualize our network, and then to utilize and improve how the network works is a crucial success factor for a cluster like Explorer HQ”.


The network on the left shows how the companies and the employees handle adversity. The network on the right shows innovation and who are good at turning ideas into new products.




Research: How ONA Lets Leaders Lead In The Era Of Remote Work

The Covid-19 pandemic has incentivized organizations everywhere to embrace the long-heralded future of remote work. However, as employees log on to video meetings and test new collaboration platforms, the good old organizational tools of clear chains of command, corner offices and formal reporting relationships have come under siege.

A long-standing debate among organizational scholars about how best to promote the flow of knowledge in and around organizations has bubbled to the surface. In a recent issue of the Journal of Organizational Design, JOIN21 founders Starling Hunter, Jan Taug and Henrik Bentzen explain why organizational network analysis is becoming the tool of choice for future-oriented leaders.


Traditional versus modern organizational theory  

The formalist approach in organizational theory has primarily been concerned with optimizing the flow of decision-making and innovation along formally defined lines and hierarchical chains of command.

A more social approach has been interested in the design of  informal relationships such as advice-seeking, trust, and friendship – all of which help information to break down departmental silos to improve innovation.

Starling Hunter, PhD, has repeatedly called for additional research to reconcile the formalist and social network approaches to intra-organizational structure:

“Not many leaders have understood how to view their organization in a way that takes both formal and informal relationships into account”, Hunter says. “But when you show them a network map where these different roles are accounted for, they tend to understand immediately. That is because the formal hierarchy you learned about in business school is just a network of a kind, which is being seriously challenged given the development of more distributed organizations and virtual workers.”

 Figure 1. The striking visual difference between the organization seen as a network and as a hierarchy. 


Build shorter paths 

In the research article, Hunter, Jan Taug and Henrik Bentzen, demonstrate the impact of a formal organizational structure on the pattern of informal connections – such as expertise and information-sharing.

Figure 1 visualizes what a typical retail organization looks like as a hierarchy, and as a network.

The study employs a measure called «command distance» – defined as the length of the line between two actors in a chain of command – to gauge how the formal and informal relations influence each other. The article argues that the formal structure affords only one (often very long) path between any pair of actors. The combination of formal and informal relationships, however, results in far more numerous and much shorter paths between actors, speeding up knowledge flow.

This is a good thing. The article also found that the longer the distance between two actors in the chain of command, the less likely it is for them to form any kind social or informal connection.

“Our key finding is that the further apart two people are in the formal structure, meaning the more steps there are between them, the less likely they will connect informally”, says Hunter. “And these could very well be people that should be connecting in order to create innovation and share expertise.”

This tendency of not-connecting in more formal networks was true for networks shaped by information-sharing, both when it happened directly between people in the network as well as in collaboration platforms like Workplace by Facebook. Notably on Workplace, separation in the formal structure mattered less when it came to forging connections. Meaning Workplace in some ways countered the adverse effects of the formal hierarchy when it came to sharing information.


What you want: broad networks  

The article concludes, perhaps not surprisingly, that the two people most likely to connect in an organization are a subordinate and his or her boss. The second most likely to connect are two people who report to the same boss.

“Such ‘local’ connections are not a problem in themselves. But they can easily get in the way of valuable knowledge-flow with people further away in the formal structure”, Hunter explains.

The key question is how to facilitate and motivate more such remote connections.

“While the paper does not address this question specifically, that is what we do at JOIN21. We analyze the networks and then recommend to the leadership interventions that will build and facilitate value-added connections”.

Working remotely means being physically separated. In the context of this paper, it also means that this physical distance can be added to the chain-of-command distance. Starling Hunter believes it will likely have a cumulative or multiplicative effect:

“So people who are both physically separated and widely separated in the formal structure are even less likely to connect. If anything, this highlights the need for the interventions of the kind Organizational Network Analysis can offer”, Hunter says.

“At a very minimum, leaders will be more effective if they understand their organizations as networks – what networks are, what network roles are – when selecting and deploying interventions”.


If you want to read the full article, please get in touch for a free copy – start a chat with us by clicking the chat at the bottom left corner.