Managers vs. Employees on Remote Work Productivity

Now that almost all COVID-related restrictions have been lifted, the vast majority of employees and managers have agreed on either a hybrid or completely remote work model (as of now…). However, that agreement seems to be accepted begrudgingly by managers and much more happily by employees. This is what a recent study published in Harvard Business Review found.

Here are the key takeaways with respect to productivity and disciplinary consequences of not complying with the company’s work policy.

Productivity

The following chart shows what employees and managers think is the impact of remote work to productivity. Starting on a positive note, around 42% of both employees and managers think that remote work has no effect on productivity. However, on the rest of the spectrum they are on opposite sides. Approximately, 40% of managers think that remote work has an adverse effect on productivity and 20% of them think it’s a net positive. On the other hand, 40% of employees think that remote work makes them more productive and 20% of them think the opposite.

Source: https://hbr.org/2023/01/research-where-managers-and-employees-disagree-about-remote-work

The key word here is “think,” since employees and managers might have different views on productivity. As an example, the article mentions that employees tend to include commuting in their mental calculation of productivity, while managers don’t take that into account.

Disciplinary Consequences

The other difference in mindset is what employees versus managers think the disciplinary action should be when employees work from home on days they are supposed to be in the office. The graph shows that the two biggest differences between them is that 30% of employees vs. 13.5% of employers think that nothing happens, and that 14.6% of employees vs. 32.0% of managers think they risk termination. 

Source: https://hbr.org/2023/01/research-where-managers-and-employees-disagree-about-remote-work

Something I would expect both employees and managers would agree is that disciplinary actions shouldn’t be a matter of disagreement or personal interpretation, but rather clear cut actions stated in an employee handbook. 

I believe we are still going through the transition phase, and the new policies employers are trying to impose without disenfranchising employees are not well communicated and instilled in day-to-day work life routine. It looks like a 2-to-3 day per week work from home is where most hybrid work models converge. To resolve this difference in opinion of what the disciplinary action is when someone doesn’t follow their company’s policy, managers need to clearly communicate the company’s policy and follow up on it when not followed.