Managers uncertain over productivity of remote employees

With hybrid and remote work continuing, managers are developing "productivity paranoia", leading to efforts of spying on their staff.
By: | September 26, 2022

“Leaders think their employees are not productive, whereas employees think they are being productive and, in many cases, even feel burnt out,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in an interview with Bloomberg TV recently.

A survey by Microsoft found that 85% of managers are concerned that workers are not being productive, while 87% of employees say they are working effectively. The survey polled 20,000 people across 11 countries on productivity during the era of remote and hybrid work.

Nadella said better communication tools can help bridge the gap.

Nevertheless, Microsoft Vice President Jared Spataro said he is worried that executives are turning more toward worker surveillance instead. “There’s a growing debate about employee surveillance, and we have a really strong stance – we just think that’s wrong,” he said. “We don’t think that employers should be surveilling and taking note of the activity of keystrokes and mouse clicks and those types of things because, in so many ways, we feel like that’s measuring heat rather than outcome.”

READ: Internet activity indicates support for remote work

Even as Nadella says managers should resist productivity fears, Microsoft has not given up on its efforts to bring workers back into the office – though it has faced several setbacks. Earlier this year, the company initiated a policy that employees should be in the office at least 50% of the time. However, in June, the company said “a back-to-office ‘normal’ may not happen this year”.