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Busy Work is Not Productive Work

As Workers Fight to Maintain Remote Status, the Argument on Productivity Begins

By Little AlicePublished 2 years ago 3 min read
Productivity is actually up

The age-old struggle of the worker/boss relationship has come to a head as many businesses are finding their footing as we near the "post-pandemic" world. Many workers were shifted to remote work during the pandemic lockdowns. Now, workers have had a taste of the "good life" and they're digging their heels in as businesses try to drag them back to the office.

A comfortable worker is a productive worker

As the debate rages on, many have pointed to articles that show the hard facts that productivity has been up since the pandemic started - that working from home allows workers the comfort and flexibility to focus and get their work done efficiently. You would think companies would be thrilled at this revelation, but that could not be further from the truth.

Many companies are demanding workers come back to the office. Their excuses ranging from the need for "manager supervision" and their claims that workers are "goofing off" while on the clock. One has to wonder, if productivity is up and the bottom line is healthier than ever without the cost of office space utilities - what exactly is it that these companies are missing out on if they let their workers stay home?

It has been proven in several other countries - especially in Europe and the n0rthern countries like Finland and the Netherlands, that workers are more productive with shorter working hours and shorter work weeks. That a large percentage of company time is spent on unnecessary meetings, "looking busy", and productivity lost due to bored coworkers seeking small-talk with their working counterparts.

As for "management supervision" many employees are able to "cheat" this with "mouse-jiggle software", having different tabs open on their computer to switch back when the boss walks over, all sorts of tricks, when the reality is we're entering an age of productivity where the 40+ hour work week just isn't necessary anymore. And so, employees often fill their "dead time" with "goofing off" lest they simply sit at their desk, staring at their screen, waiting for something to do.

Nothing is worse than waiting on someone else to do their work so you can do yours

Many companies forget that often times tasks are shunted through a pipeline, and employees have to wait on each other before they can do their part of the project. The developers can't write code for a software that hasn't had the business requirements hammered out yet. The technical writers can't write the client software guide if the developers haven't handed over their software notes yet. And expecting employees to "create more work to do" in the name of "productivity" is asinine.

Busy work is not productive work

The old argument of "if we don't supervise our employees, how will we know they're getting the job done" has also been seen to be entirely hollow. The proof is in the pudding - a productive employee gets their work done, and it's reflected in the numbers. A lazy employee can often be pinpointed by the team as the bottleneck for the project pipeline. Identifying the "lazy" employees and replacing them with productive workers is a far more sensible solution than punishing your productive workers by forcing everyone to play by the rules for the lowest common denominator. And so many companies KEEP their lazy employees, thinking that enough "supervision" and chastising will magically make them productive. This type of thinking hurts productivity and the bottom line.

Find where the buck stops and you'll find the weak link in the chain

The bottom line is, many companies are under the archaic mindset that "misery" is the measuring stick for a worker's "productivity" even when the stats suggest otherwise. Many of the articles that bemoan employees are "goofing off" are referencing salary workers who are paid for their productivity and skills, not by how much "work" they can cram into an hour. Somehow, these companies have lost sight of their workforce and many are treating their salaried employees as they would an hourly employee (aka worrying about "wasted" time).

The numbers don't lie

Ultimately, time will tell. The stats will show the productivity for the post-pandemic world, and this writer is placing her bet on the companies that allow their workers to remain remote will see a much larger slice of the pie.


About the Creator

Little Alice

I am a creative soul. Author. Artist. The world is my blank page.

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