Hybrid work fuels ‘productivity paranoia’ among employees and managers.

Zoom ZM,
and Google GOOGL,
Meeting invitations are flooding employees’ inboxes. Employees eager to show how engaged they are at work are firing off emails and Slack messages day and night.

However, managers don’t feel their employees who work from home are as productive as they could be.

According to a new survey from Microsoft’s MSFT, 12 percent of managers say they are confident about their team’s productivity with hybrid work.
Compare that to 87% of workers who say they’re more productive when working from home.

Less than half (49%) of managers with hybrid work teams say they struggle to trust their employees are doing their best work, compared with 36% of managers with in-person teams.

The divide is creating “productivity paranoia” that “risks making hybrid work unsustainable,” researchers said.

Read: Companies win when workers are in the office, but threats, orders and mind-numbing work won’t get them back.

The findings, released this week, are based on public opinion polls of 20,000 people in 11 countries, as well as data from LinkedIn, which includes Microsoft Outlook and Groups, and aggregated data from Microsoft 365.

If company leaders want to keep employees from jumping ship—and many certainly do, given the tight labor market—the researchers recommend setting clear priorities for employees to reduce the risk of burnout.

‘Determining what doesn’t work is as important as defining what does – nothing matters in a world where everything matters’

– Microsoft reports on how to manage hybrid employees

“Determining what doesn’t work is just as important as defining what does work – nothing in a world where everything matters,” the researchers said. “We’ve reached a point where we’re reducing returns due to overwork. If leaders don’t intervene, they risk productivity.

The data showed that employees who said they had clear expectations from their managers were 4.5 times more likely to say they were happy at work and 7 times more likely to say they were less likely to look for a new job.

The findings are a reminder that burnout is alive and well, causing injury to both employees and managers. In fact, nearly half of all employees and managers who participated in the survey said they were burned out.

But the study says the back-to-office debate continues between white-collar workers and their bosses.

Nearly three years into the pandemic, remote work has evolved from an emergency backup plan to a large part of white-collar work, at least for those who have the opportunity to work from home.

In the weeks leading up to Labor Day, plenty of data — from swiping corporate key cards to the number of lunch orders — suggests more people are returning to offices in droves, but it’s still not a trickle.

Just telling them and then waiting for people to come will only go so far, the study found. Three-quarters of both workers (73%) and business leaders (78%) said there must be a good reason to force people back into the office. It only highlights that waiting for the company to do this is not enough.

People may return to the office more convincingly, the researchers suggest. Among employees, three-quarters or more said they would be more motivated to be physically present if they were given the opportunity to connect with coworkers or bond with teammates. Just knowing that their colleagues are in the office at the same time will be motivating, he said.

While companies wonder whether the home or office is the best place to work, some UK businesses are experimenting with the length of the working week.

Halfway through the trial period, most businesses that test the four-day work week report that things are going well and can stick with the compressed week when the six-month trial is over.

Instead of doing a five-day job in four, the hybrid model is making businesses rethink how they can work better, one participant said.

Also Read:

It’s not about the future of work, it’s about the future of life: discuss with your boss how to handle the dreaded ‘return to work’

‘Remote work is here to stay,’ says the New York Federal Reserve.

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