December 20, 2022

Can MS Teams Bridge The Productivity Gap Between Workers and Managers?

Post published by David Lavenda

Three Ways to Crack the New Productivity Paradox

A surprising new business trend is emerging that is creating exciting new opportunities for information-rich organizations… namely, the appearance of a productivity paradox whereby workers are working harder, but managers suspect productivity is dropping.

Smart IT executives can eliminate the productivity paradox through judicious use of IT resources in at least three ways. But first, let’s understand the challenge.

New Productivity Paradox Leads to Workplace Paranoia

The latest Microsoft Workplace Trend Index (WTI) is hot off the presses. The Index reveals up to date findings gleaned from Microsoft 365 usage and is supplemented by responses from workplace surveys. The big news this time? The surprising emergence of a gap between how managers and employees gauge the current state of workplace productivity.

The WTI reports a whopping 87% of workers claim they are confident in their job productivity.And there is good evidence for this confidence.Over the last two years, the number of (Microsoft Teams) meetings per week increased by 153%, the average workday span increased by 13%, and the average number of after-hours work went up a solid 28%.

With such frenetic activity, it’s surprising that managers see the productivity glass half empty.A mere 12% of leaders report having full confidence their team is productive – leading to what Microsoft calls ‘productivity paranoia.’ Simply put, managers fear productivity is down because they don’t see employees working… even though hours worked, number of meetings, and other work activity metrics have increased significantly. Some of this is surely caused by managers’ fear that if workers don’t know they are being watched, they might be playing hooky.

The paranoia directly leads to workplace stress… caused by overwork on the one hand and a gnawing fear that work is not getting done on the other.Stress is clearly taking its toll on both workers and managers, with the WTI finding 48% of employees and 53% of managers reporting burn out.

So, it’s no wonder that 82% of business decision makers say getting employees back to the office in person is a concern in the coming year. With workers under their watchful eyes, managers will be able to assuage their ‘out of sight, out of mind’ fears. While that may make sense for managers, do employees want to come back to the office, and even if they do, will productivity improve?

Unlikely. The WTI found that 52% of Gen Z and Millennials are likely to consider changing employers this year and a full 73% of employees saying they need a better reason to go into the office than just to meet company expectations, so companies need to get serious about solving the ‘productivity paradox.’

The Opportunity

If the productivity paradox wasn’t challenging enough, over the coming year, many companies will need to overcome the paradox with fewer employees. This presents smart IT executives an opportunity to leverage the collaboration tools installed during the pandemic to crack the productivity paradox. For example, a large part of the paradox is caused by wildly inefficient use of existing collaboration resources like Microsoft Teams. Case in point, while the hours of Teams usage is way up, many workers still find effective collaboration elusive.

Here are three areas where organizations need to invest to reduce productivity paranoia and crack the productivity paradox:

  • Inefficient use of Microsoft Teams – yes, workers use Teams for daily meetings, but other Teams features are used inconsistently.For example, workers who have embraced chat find it hard to participate in, and follow, conversations. So, while folks are working hard, there is still a long way to go to make collaboration frictionless and transparent. Companies should invest in using Teams capabilities beyond meetings wisely, so workers can communicate more easily, and managers can better monitor work progress.
  • Too many tools – workers are overwhelmed by too many tools.Microsoft Teams was supposed to reduce the number of communications tools, but it simply became one more tool to use.Workers continue to collaborate with co-workers, customers, suppliers, and partners via email, shared documents, and other Microsoft and non-Microsoft products.Integration between those tools is improving but the number of apps in use continues to grow. In fact, a 2022 survey found that 26% of US workers use eleven or more accounts, resources, tools, and applications each day. Companies need to make it easier for employees to do the right thing, without having to hop from app to app, or rely upon complex training or procedures.
  • Hard to find information – with information spread across so many apps and repositories, workers waste hours every day searching for what they need to do their jobs.Plus, with people leaving organizations during the current layoffs, retaining knowledge will only get harder. That’s why it is critical to provide workers with easy-to-use tools for finding information across the entire suite of Microsoft 365 tools, within their existing workflows.

In these trying times, can be instrumental in solving the productivity paradox by making it easier for workers to focus on the job at hand and less about hopping between tools and searching for information. Contact us today to learn more.

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