- According to a survey on corporate attitudes by Microsoft, about 85 percent of managers worry they can’t tell if employees are getting enough done, while 87 percent of workers say their productivity is just fine.
The ongoing moonlighting debate in India has seen top IT firms with unwelcome scrutiny on employees. Moonlighting refers to employees taking up side gigs to work on more than one job at a time. Companies like Wipro, Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) have criticised the idea and termed it as ‘unethical’ and cheating. Wipro has further gone and fired 300 of its employees after finding out that they were working with one of its competitors at the same time.
In contrast, Minister of state for electronics and information technology Rajeev Chandrasekhar has backed moonlighting, and said that companies should accept the employee-entrepreneur mindset of today’s tech force. Food delivery platform Swiggy also introduced ‘Moonlighting policy’ in which the employees were allowed to work on second jobs, under certain conditions.
Also Read: Return to workplace may ease moonlighting concerns in IT industry, say experts
Amid all this debate, now, Microsoft chief executive officer Satya Nadella has coined a fresh term called ‘Productivity Paranoia’.
What is Productivity Paranoia?
More than two years after remote work and hybrid jobs became widespread, there’s still a stark divide over how it’s going. According to a survey on corporate attitudes by Microsoft, about 85 percent of managers worry they can’t tell if employees are getting enough done, while 87 percent of workers say their productivity is just fine.
Managers’ fears about idle workers are creating what Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella calls “productivity paranoia,” with undesirable results—like spying on employees.
Also Read: Rajeev Chandrasekhar backs moonlighting but cautions against violating employment
“Leaders think their employees are not productive, whereas employees think they are being productive and in many cases even feel burnt out,” he said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “One of the most important things for us in this new world of work and hybrid work is to bridge this paradox.”
“There’s a growing debate about employee surveillance, and we have a really strong stance—we just think that’s wrong,” said Jared Spataro, a Microsoft vice president. “We don’t think that employers should be surveilling and taking note of the activity of keystrokes and mouse clicks and those types of things because, in so many ways, we feel like that’s measuring heat rather than outcome.
Earlier in April 2022, Nadella had also warned that employees well-being could suffer from an ever-expanding workday that often creeps well into the night.
Nadella, whose company studied how remote work impacts collaboration in an effort to improve its Teams software, had cited Microsoft research showing that about a third of white-collar workers have a “third peak” of productivity late in the evening, based on keyboard activity.
Productivity typically spikes before and after lunch, but this third peak illustrates how remote work has broken down already-blurred boundaries between our job and our home lives. Nadella, while speaking at the Wharton Future of Work Conference, said managers need to set clear norms and expectations for workers so that they’re not pressured to answer emails late at night.
“We think about productivity through collaboration and output metrics, but well-being is one of the most important pieces of productivity,” he said. “We know what stress does to workers. We need to learn the soft skills, good old-fashioned management practices, so people have their wellbeing taken care of. I can set that expectation, that our people can get an email from the CEO on the weekend and not feel that they have to respond.
As per the new study of Microsoft employees, about 30 percent experienced “peaks” of work in the morning, afternoon, and, to a lesser extent, at around 10 pm. The average workday has expanded by 46 minutes, or 13 percent, since the pandemic began, Microsoft has found, with time spent on after-hours work growing even more quickly, at 28 percent.
The data show how workers have increasingly adopted more asynchronous schedules, which don’t always line up with those of their far-flung colleagues or managers.
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