A recent Microsoft (MSFT) survey found that employers and workers still disagree over whether remote work boosts or kills productivity. In a new interview with Yahoo Finance, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said companies should consult the data to determine workers’ performance — rather than assume they’re getting more work done in the office.
The company’s recent Work Trends Study, which surveyed 20,000 people across 11 countries, found 87% of employees say they’re more productive remotely or with a mix of in-office and remote work. Conversely, 85% of leaders say hybrid work makes it difficult to determine if their workers are being productive.
“Basically 85% plus of workers or members of the workforce think that they’re being productive. Eighty-five plus percent of managers think that there’s more to be desired on productivity,” Nadella explained during an interview for Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit.
“So there’s that paradox, and I think the best way to bridge the paradox is not to have more dogma, but more data. Instead of this being some kind of argument, let the data really help us move forward,” the CEO said. “There’s a structural change and everyone’s exercising that flexibility that they had during the pandemic now in the post-pandemic world.”
A majority of workers would rather quit their jobs than return to the office five days a week, according to numerous reports and surveys released in the past year. Business leaders, meanwhile, have pushed back, with Wall Street banks such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley ordering workers to head back to the office and limiting remote work.
Microsoft has a hybrid policy, with employees permitted to work remotely up to 50% of the time. After that they need to request approval from their managers. According to a June survey by McKinsey & Company, some 58% of Americans have the option to work remotely at least one day per week.
Despite the reality that many people prefer to work from home, some businesses don’t have faith in workers’ productivity unless they’re at their office desks. Microsoft refers to that scenario as “productivity paranoia.”
To address this discrepancy, Nadella says leaders need to set clear corporate goals.
“I think the way to manage that would be to really make sure that you’re very clear as leaders and managers about what the goals of the company or the team are, setting the norms for how people collaborate, and communicate,” he said.
Nadella called on executives to provide workers with tools to succeed.
“Anything that we can do to help show that we are recruiting [employees] and then energizing them, I think is all going to be very, very helpful,” Nadella said.
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