A large perception gap between employees and leaders could make hybrid work in companies around the world unsustainable if not addressed, Microsoft warned on Thursday when it released the results of a new workplace study.
- 87% of workers surveyed say they are productive at work.
- 12% of leaders say they are fully confident that their employees are productive.
This disconnect, which Microsoft calls “productivity paranoia,” is one of the key findings of a survey of 20,000 people in companies in 11 countries, conducted for Microsoft by a third-party company in July and August.
One of the causes is the decline of the age-old practice of “running around” due to remote working. The survey found that lack of confidence in employee productivity is more common among managers whose teams continue to work away from the traditional office at least part of the time.
At the same time, data gathered from the use of Microsoft software and online services indicates a sustained increase in overall worker activity.
- The number of weekly meetings has increased 153% since the start of the pandemic for the average Microsoft Teams user since this spring and the trend shows no signs of abating, the company said.
- About 42% of meeting attendees multitask by sending emails and other messages. This does not include other forms of multitasking, such as reading email or browsing the web.
Potential burnout aside, one risk is that employees are trying to appear as if they are working, rather than actually doing productive work, a phenomenon that has been identified by author Anne Helen Petersen as LARP-ing or “role-playing by the live “their jobs.
Speaking on a live webcast from London, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said one key is to recognize and understand the new realities of work and not expect to go back in time to 2019, before the pandemic.
“Work as we know it has undergone a huge structural change,” said Nadella during the virtual event. “I think we have to base ourselves, in a certain sense, on what the fundamental meaning of the work is”.
Seth Patton, a general manager of Microsoft 365, said in an interview that the company sees clear communication, goal setting, and ongoing feedback loops as key ways to address challenges.
“What we need right now is not to measure working hours,” Patton said. Instead, companies should “really focus on the results they do [they] they have to guide and provide clarity to employees who will otherwise just be doing a lot of challenging work, and then get feedback on what they need to support them to be successful. “
Patton said Microsoft opposes the practice in which companies use technology to actively monitor individual employee computer activity, using workplace surveillance tools, to determine productivity and pay.
Microsoft faced backlash over a “Productivity Score” tool in Microsoft 365 in November 2020, eventually announcing that it would remove the ability for businesses to view individual user data in the feature, to address privacy experts’ concerns about the feature. potential use of technology to spy on workers.
In announcing the survey results Thursday, Microsoft cited the importance of helping employees connect with each other as a motivation to work in person. In addition, the company said it is important to “recruit” existing employees to help them identify their best internal roles and opportunities for growth, compared to. look for work elsewhere.
“People want to feel very connected to their work,” said LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky, appearing alongside Nadella at the company’s virtual event on Thursday. “They want to feel in touch with the company, in contact with their manager. They want to know that their work matters. And one of the most important ways to do this is to make sure you have the right people, with the right skills, in the right role. “
Of course, this isn’t purely academic for Microsoft. The company cites the findings as the basis for several new and updated features in its Viva Employee Experience Platform, including tools to conduct quick employee surveys, set clear goals for work, and encourage employee learning and growth. .
Microsoft announced Viva in March 2021 as an entry into the increasingly competitive technology market that aims to help companies improve employee engagement and productivity and the overall work environment.
The company says Viva now has 10 million monthly active users, with more than 1,000 paid corporate customers who previously did not purchase Microsoft 365 or Microsoft Teams.
Earlier this year, Microsoft also announced new integrations between Viva and Glint, the employee feedback tool that Microsoft-owned LinkedIn acquired in 2018. Viva also integrates with LinkedIn Learning.
Microsoft acquired LinkedIn for more than $ 26 billion in 2016. LinkedIn was responsible for $ 13.8 billion in revenue in Microsoft’s fiscal year 2022, which ended June 30, a 34% increase from the previous year.
Microsoft is competing with a number of services in the communication and collaboration technology market, including Zoom and Slack from Salesforce. Seattle-area employee experience firm Limeade, which acquired the workplace survey tool TINYPulse last year, announced an integration with Microsoft Viva around the same time.