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Microsoft: Bosses see workers less productive at home, fueling 'productivity theater'

In context: Does your boss think you “work” from home in your pajamas all day, taking regular breaks to stuff your face/drunk/watch Pornhub? They’re not alone in believing that remote work can reduce employee productivity. According to a new study by Microsoft, 85% of bosses believe that the comfort of home reduces employee productivity, leading to “productivity theater.”

Much research has been done on working from home and how it affects productivity. Almost all of this suggests that the increased happiness employees feel translates into more productive employees, but managers don’t seem to agree.

A new study from Microsoft illustrates how employees and bosses feel very differently: 87% of employees say working from home increases productivity, but 85% of supervisors disagree. Bosses believe the move to remote/hybrid work has made it challenging to have confidence in employee productivity.

While working from home used to be a minority A privilege, but the pandemic has most of the world waving goodbye to the daily commute. Some companies are trying to get employees back to pre-2020 work arrangements as lockdowns are lifted. Several major companies, including Tesla and Apple, are facing significant resistance to their reinstatement demands.

Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella told the BBC that higher-level staff needed to overcome fears of staff being ineffective working from home. “We have to get over what we call ‘productivity paranoia’ because all the data we have shows that over 80% of individuals think they are highly productive – except their management thinks they are not. This means that in There’s a real disconnect between expectations and how they feel,” Nadella told the BBC.

Future Forum Pulse Survey

Part of the problem is that managers say they no longer have visual clues to show who is working hard, but rely on software indicators. In some cases, the fear of being fired has led to “productivity theater,” as employees randomly move the mouse pointer to show they’re online, or they join worthless Zoom meetings. Ironically, it’s estimated that people waste nearly an hour a day on this kind of digital attendance, meaning employees are trying to appear more productive and thus less productive.

As part of the study, Microsoft surveyed 20,000 employees from 11 countries and analyzed trillions of Microsoft 365 productivity signals, plus LinkedIn Workforce Trends and Glint People Science Survey Results.

It’s not just bosses who think employees are better at the office; a survey in May showed that many believed their colleagues were less productive working from home.

Many employees said they would rather quit their jobs than go back to an office job and would be willing to take a pay cut and lose benefits if it meant staying at home.

One of the few studies claiming that remote work threatens productivity and innovation came last year. Somewhat surprisingly, Microsoft is the company behind these findings.

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