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Microsoft for Bosses: Put an End to the Productivity Craze When Working from Home

Microsoft has introduced the new version of its Business Trend Indicator. Entitled “Work is just work. Are we doing it wrong?” The company presents survey data results around the world along with action tips for management floors.

Since many employees have returned to offices, the hybrid model has established itself around the world. However, there is a clear gap in perception between employees and superiors about how well the new business model will work. While the former learned to appreciate flexible working conditions and 87 percent of them also believed they were still productive at work, executives aren’t entirely sure. 85 percent of bosses said they had a hard time trusting hybrid workers to be just as productive.

And according to Microsoft, the data puts the workforce right: Weekly meetings have already increased by 153 percent at the start of the year compared to the times before the pandemic. No trend reversal can be observed during the year. At the same time, new data shows that 42 percent of employees do other work tasks during meetings — and it doesn’t even include passive activities like checking email.

At the same time, opaque activity tracking, with which some companies check workforce hours, undermines the trust relationship. Microsoft itself will still have the tracking tool on display with its Productivity Score until the end of 2020.

This creates a “productive theater” where remote employees want to appear busy with meaningless meetings, but not interested in working efficiently. According to Microsoft, productivity paranoia on the part of the employer threatens the long-term success of the telecommuting/hybrid business model. So one appeals to the executive floors not to insist on just checking if the employees are working adequately. Instead, you better show them what is important, for example through objective key results (OKRs) and a company culture that rewards work quality rather than quantity.

For the new version of the Work Trend Index, Microsoft surveyed 20,000 full-time workers in eleven countries. Between July 7 and August 2, 2022, people from Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, China, India, Japan, Brazil, Canada and the United States participated. Survey data is representative of all countries. The entire report, which also includes data and advice on working on working days and training opportunities, Made available by Microsoft for free download.

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