Are Remote or Onsite Workers More Productive?

Although studies have shown employees are often more productive when they have the option to work remotely, more than 3/4 of leaders remain skeptical.

There is a glaring divide between leaders and employees, as discovered in a recent Microsoft study on hybrid work. Although many studies have shown that employees are often more productive when they have the option to work remotely, more than three-quarters of the leaders surveyed in the Microsoft survey remain skeptical. This is a new phenomenon that experts have named ‘productivity paranoia.’

If unresolved, this ‘paranoia’ could cause organizations to change or limit their remote-work options, which could affect an organization’s ability to attract and retain talent. Consider these four steps when determining what works best in your organization.

1. Conduct a Reality Check
Do a litmus test to see if the premise is true. Is it based on assumption, or is there evidence to suggest that employees are less productive while working remote?

Now may be a good time to ask leadership how they define productivity, and what metrics they’d like to use for establishing productivity in certain roles.

2. Define Metrics

Productivity can be assessed in a variety of ways, including:

  • Activity metrics that measure how many hours are spent on various tasks.
  • Predictive productivity metrics to measure the efficiency and effectiveness of processes. 
  • Outcome metrics that measure results.

 All of these are great, however if you measure productivity by activity, you could end up rewarding people who aren't achieving goals and results. Or, if you measure productivity based on outcomes, the focus is on results versus being present. Use a combination of qualitative and quantitative measures to come up with the ideal metrics for your organization. Consider evaluating employees on what they accomplish, as well as how they accomplish it.

Proper and consistent communication is another factor to assure leaders that employees are working. Essentially, if you don’t have communication, there's no trust. A good business practice is to establish regular meetings to set one-on-one goals, clarify expectations and troubleshoot productivity deficits.

 3. Trust and Verify

It’s important to instill trust in leaders and focus on building relationships that foster trust. Organizations must create an environment where employees can do their best work – and that begins with developing relationships and giving employees the right tools to achieve their goals.

Leaders must be thoughtful and intentional in how they implement remote and hybrid work processes and policies. Ensure collaboration tools and meeting environments include remote employees and gives them a way to participate and fit in to the work culture.

4. Prioritize Employee Well-Being

A happy, content employee is the key to productivity. That’s why it's worth considering implemented regular anonymous employee satisfaction surveys to see what employees want and need.

Find out what would make them more productive, then work to implement those changes. Organizations needs to recognize that that people are human beings, not just extensions of the business. Productivity paranoia is often a reflection of a leaders' discomfort with not being in control. That’s why its important to treat one another as adults and as human beings.

What’s Next?
Flexibility. Communication. Adaptability. These will all be necessary as we continue to navigate the new world of work. Leaders that focus on the data, communication and clarity are the ones who will succeed and ultimately thrive. This new era of work is all about the people, and we believe that positive people will lead to strong outcomes. To see what lies ahead for the remainder of this year and beyond, check out our Market Outlook. 

2022-23 Market Outlook 

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