Thursday, November 30, 2023

A new reality: Presenteeism doesn’t equate productivity


Does working from home equate to lowered productivity? Does being present in the office guarantee heightened productivity?

The coming year will continue to see work and workplace issues dominate the corporate landscape. Per Omida research, nearly 37% of the workforce prefers hybrid work, one-third of the employees will be tethered workforce preferring to work out of the office, while 30% of the employees will be fully mobile. It’s not only the location employees are working from that has become more dispersed.

The very fabric of work itself is more fragmented and complex than ever. Technology ecosystems are more complex, processes and working practices are siloed, and teams are more geographically dispersed than ever before. Enterprises must clearly communicate their business priorities and employee responsibilities to avoid productivity paranoia.

Organizations should not assume that time worked or presence in the office equates to productive working. It does not. Presenteeism is not synonymous with productivity, or efficiency is a reality that managers and CXOs must come to terms with. To improve employee well-being and workplace culture, business leaders must create working environments where staff have autonomy, agency, and digital tools that enable them to work productively.

Digital workplaces for a hybrid workforce

Corporations are responding with a heightened focus on building digital workplaces of the future to factor in this changed employee attitude. Work styles have become more mobile and hybrid. In response, businesses must better integrate mobile connectivity, productivity, and security capabilities. Doing so will deliver many costs, digital experience, and operational benefits.

But beyond this sea of change and disruption lies a huge opportunity for organizations to transform in delivering better business outcomes and amazing employee and customer experiences. By aligning business needs with technology and workflow automation, businesses can improve productivity, react quickly to change, and reduce costs.

Organizations must flatten hierarchies

Organizations can improve productivity by flattening hierarchies, redesigning work practices specifically for hybrid and remote workers, and through technology designed around the end-users needs. Businesses need to work in a more integrated and cross-functional fashion with modern tools, processes, and working practices that don’t inhibit the workforce but better enable and empower it.

New metrics needed for hybrid productivity

In 2022 ‘return-to-office’ created a huge amount of friction between employers and employees. There was an evident disconnect between what employees and senior leadership wanted. There needs to be more clarity between what employees and senior leaders want to eliminate conflict. Almost 36% of businesses mandate employees return to the physical office, whereas 58% of enterprises adopt a more collaborative approach that embraces a work style that works best for everyone.

A lack of metrics is causing a disconnect between employees’ and leadership’s perception of productivity. This subjectivity is called “Productivity Paranoia.” Managers are uncertain that their employees are working because they can’t see them. Productivity Paranoia also demonstrates the need for better communication between leaders and employees, which is essential for businesses looking to overcome these toxic barriers. Leaders must make decisions that factor in employee opinion and sentiment or risk damaging productivity and employee retention.

Work style evolutions and changing employee demands are helping intensify the focus on how (and why) the digital and physical workplace must change. Developing digital workplace ecosystems will be vital for successfully delivering against any workplace transformation effort. Digital workplace ecosystems comprise different digital capabilities and services that, when well-integrated, support businesses to deliver a diverse range of workplace and digital transformation objectives.

Companies still not prioritizing digital workplaces

The intricate business objectives at the epicentre of any digital workplace ecosystem often vary based on an organization’s strategic goals, industry, and priorities. However, a standard set of objectives have emerged over recent years, including enabling/securing hybrid work, improving employee experiences, digitizing workflows, empowering frontline workers, and automating business processes. About 47% of businesses are either in the early or planning stages of digital workplace projects. At the same time, it means that more than half of businesses are not focused on this critical platform for employees to engage and deliver.

ESG is a business-critical mandate

The need to digitize work at scale coincides with the emergence of another important business mandate: Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG). As organizations embark on reinventing work, ESG must be considered a guiding pillar by key business and IT decision-makers. From a workplace transformation perspective, a collective focus will be required on improving employee well-being, building more sustainable workplaces, enhancing employee skills and training, developing processes and working practices, and digitization, diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Advancing the business ESG agenda, much like employee experience, will require the collective efforts and focus of different business units, including IT, HR, facilities management, and frontline operations. It will be important to connect people across these teams and more effectively digitize and integrate the processes that guide how they work. Beyond the internal focus and priority, businesses also attach great importance to ESG when selecting a new digital partner. Businesses exploring new digital partnerships cite concern over their existing partners’ ESG agenda as a key reason causing them to reconsider this partnership.

Also Read: Decarbonisation of supply chain by getting to the source


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