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Linked – What does productivity mean? Bosses aren’t really sure

This paragraph really speaks for itself, but I’ll add to it anyway:

Some 71 percent of business leaders say they’re under immense pressure to squeeze more productivity out of their workers, according to a new Slack survey of 18,000 knowledge workers, including managers. But most are measuring what workers put in, rather than what they put out. In turn, workers say they’re spending a third of their time “performing” work — that is, making an effort to look like they’re working rather than actually working. That includes focusing on supposed productivity signals, like speaking up in work threads regularly and responding to emails more quickly than necessary, even after hours.

Personally, I think this is worse when you work in the legal or consulting fields because your productivity is, literally, how many hours you work, translated into how many hours the firm can bill clients.

So when you find ways to be more efficient, it’s counter-productive. I’ve witnessed this too many times to count, employees who work faster are punished. Those who are dependent on hours worked resist new tools and technology that would make them more efficient.

You could break this down into a remote argument pretty easily. Working from home lets me create an environment that allows for focused work to get done sans interruptions from coworkers, which means maybe I get my work done quicker.

Except no one wants that. They want your billing hours. If interruptions make things take longer than they necessarily need to, so be it. There’s an incentive for that to happen instead of an incentive for it not to happen.

I’m not saying anyone is doing anything unethical with billing, I’m just saying that when your revenue is tied to the amount of time work takes, there’s a bizarre incentive to make everyone work longer, not to necessarily make them more efficient, which is the way we would typically think of productivity.

I sense there are a lot of managers in those industries who have it confused. I also think it might be a good idea to ask a boss what productivity measurement they use when making claims about how much more productive we’d all be in the office. If they can’t make a clear case showing the gains in output, it’s possible they do not understand how to measure productivity and have always been using placeholders like time in the office.

That’s not good management.

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