26 Oct Rethinking Productivity in the Hybrid Era
Multiple studies have shown that simple productivity measures are not enough to guide the transition to hybrid work. Employees do not necessarily have to do more to be successful. Our personal lives have always bled into our professional lives. Even when we worked at the office, phone calls from home interrupted our workdays. Parents of young children have a much harder time with this. All parents have to find creative ways to keep everything going, and we all want to examine how each moment of the day maximizes our time. Some of us have learned to take each task and break it into its components, and examining each microtask, makes us delve into micro productivity.
But when in Spring of 2020 everyone was forced to work from home, the separation of home and work had all but dissolved. It was perhaps the most significant disruption to work in generations. We took the opportunity to rethink our concept of productivity. GitHubwork, Microsoft, and LinkedIn worked together to research the New Future of Work. The research initiative included 50 research projects focused on remote work. This work has been ongoing for a year and a half. We still cannot visualize the evolution of work in the next several months or years. There are some things that people still miss from the office. But they treasure the flexibility that remote work offers. Managers need to redefine productivity given the hybrid paradox. The idea is to consider how people work when there are no boundaries between home and work.
A fresh understanding of productivity
It can be hard to understand and measure productivity. Researchers use data from measuring worker activity or asking workers to self-report. When they started working from home, workers were highly productive by these measures. Github saw developers checking in more and focusing more. The activity was either the same as before lockdown or higher. A closer examination of the research findings reveals so much more to the story. Those boundaries that separated professional and personal life were blurred. The result was 49% of Microsoft workers working longer hours. Only 9% enjoyed shorter working hours. A global study of workers showed that more than half of workers felt overworked one year after the pandemic. 39% said they were exhausted.
Work-at-home employees also found it a lot more difficult to brainstorm. Many felt disconnected from their colleagues. It becomes harder for employees to innovate collaboratively, share knowledge, and synergize their efforts to increase productivity. For companies to achieve and sustain innovation, they need more than just productive workers. They need social connections, well-being, and collaboration among workers. A hybrid world combines both remote in-office work and promotes the well-being of the workers to collaborate effectively and achieve innovation. Between office workers and remote workers, each group experiences its own unique set of disadvantages and advantages. A hybrid approach tries to get the best of both worlds.
In-office workers want to harness the moments spent collaborating, building working relationships, and brainstorming. At-home workers need to plan their time around things that matter to them. These are family activities, hobbies, or exercise. At-home workers should plan their work carefully to avoid working too many hours. Boundaries are important. Traffic is a huge time waster. With a hybrid workplace, you can plan office activities in such a way as to avoid wasting time in traffic. Strive to find that sweet spot between the needs of the team and those of individuals. Teams need to be agile, negotiating and adjusting the rules to adapt to the needs of each member so that all are productive.
Focus on innovation
People need to exchange ideas, try them out, and reflect together and individually to innovate. Hybrid work can allow for the best of both worlds. Those who do their best thinking alone can get to do just that so that the team can benefit from collective brainstorming and individual creativity. Decide which tasks are suitable for remote work and which require in-person attention. Remote work is better for repetitive, routine tasks. At the beginning of a project, it is more important for people to come together in-person to solve teething problems and brainstorm. Later on, it becomes less important. When a new person joins your team, you want them to spend as much time interacting with coworkers in person as you can. They will feel connected to the team. In everything, the goal is to make work better: more productive, more innovative, and more conducive for workers.
Over to you: What’s working for you and your team? How can your organization embrace productivity in a way that best serves your needs and those of your team? Share your thoughts with us firstname.lastname@example.org.