How confident are you in your employee’s productivity when they work from home? One year into the pandemic, Harvard Business Review found that 40% of supervisors and managers felt low confidence in their ability to manage remote workers. Additionally, 36% expressed distrust or uncertainty in their team’s ability to be productive at home. At the same time, a Microsoft study showed that remote workers were reporting feeling overworked.

So how do we manage a situation in which the manager thinks the employee is underperforming and the employee feels like they are working longer hours than ever before?

That’s the challenge of defining productivity in the new era of hybrid work. As UAE companies adjust to the new work week, it’s a good time to evaluate productivity, how it is defined and what its future looks like.

 

Revisit Your Company Culture

First of all, take the time to look at your company culture. Take note of what you like and what you wish to improve. Revisit your mission and values.

Once you’ve decided on the culture you want to have as a company, it’s time to figure out what that looks like in a hybrid working environment. For example, most leaders don’t want their employees to feel overworked and burnt out. Nor do they wish to pay their teams to show up at the office if they aren’t going to be productive.

So the question becomes, which work is best done at home and which is best done in the office?

 

Home Work + Office Work = Hybrid Work

The hybrid work paradox happens when a majority of employees say they want more flexible remote work options. At the same time, those same employees also say they want more in-person collaboration. It seems strange, but it is possible to want and have these seemingly contradictory situations.

For projects that require individual focus and concentration, remote work is best. When a task requires the attention of more than one person, such as brainstorming or problem solving, it’s best for people to be in the office.

It’s easy to track productivity when you’re defining productivity as hours spent in the office. However, if you want the best from your employees and are allowing them flexible time to do much of their work at home, tracking hours may not be your most effective metric for productivity. It may encourage presenteeism instead of efficiency.

 

Decide on a Tracking Method

There are three primary ways to track productivity:

  1. Management by objectives, in which employees are given targets and measured on their outputs against those targets.
  2. Measuring quantitative productivity by using a project management software that tracks time spent on a project. This is a bit like a virtual office.
  3. Measuring productivity by profit. This is the simplest method as it suggests that if the company is making money, the employees must be being productive.

However, you decide to quantify productivity, you’ll need to make it clear to employees how they win at their jobs. It also creates a system for accountability.

 

Create an Accountability System

While employees don’t need to be under the ever-watchful eye of management every minute of the workday to be productive, they do need a consistent accountability method. This works both for their own motivation and for your ability to track their progress.

Many companies ask that their employees take five minutes at the end of every day to report their progress to their managers. This will not only help everyone see progress, it will also help employees draw a clear line between their workday and their personal time, even when working at home. It allows individuals to reflect on the day. It also makes the transition to the non-working part of their day easier.

 

Consider Well-Being a Productivity Metric

In the Microsoft study one year into the pandemic, over half of the individuals reported feeling overworked. For all of the benefits of working remotely, it has taken a toll on the work-life balance.

Company leaders can make well-being a priority by encouraging employees to set boundaries at home to keep from working long hours. Invite them to reflect on the pros and cons of their working situation. Let them collaborate with you to create a plan so that they can be both healthy and productive.

The new normal is still forming, but it appears that hybrid work will continue to be a part of it. By adapting rather than resisting, you can set your company up for success.

Are you ready for the new UAE labour law coming into effect on 2 Feb 2022? Let us help you. Our clients welcome our consistent and reliable approach to reviewing their contracts, handbooks and policies. Arrange a call now and we look forward to discussing your needs.