Productivity Paranoia: What is it and How Can Employers Help Lower It

Photo Credits - Parker Byrd via Unsplash

Since the increasing prevalence of remote working, accelerated by pandemic restrictions on workplaces, many organisations have allowed their employees to adopt hybrid or fully remote working styles. For some, working full-time in the office is no longer reasonable or necessary.

The UK Parliament reported in September 2022 that around 1 in 5 or 22% of the workforce in Great Britain worked at least one day from home in the week, with 1 in 8 or 13% working from home exclusively. These numbers are a reflection of how the workforce is adapting hybrid and remote working styles since the lifting of pandemic restrictions.

Although hybrid and remote working has brought various beneficial impacts to employees, the opinion does that vary and has caused concerns for some. Among the concerns that arise from remote working is productivity paranoia.

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What is Productivity Paranoia?

Productivity paranoia is described by Microsoft as the fear that leaders have of lost productivity caused by employees not working – even though they have increased hours worked, the number of meetings and other metrics.

Microsoft has also reported that 85% of leaders admit that the change to hybrid working models has made it difficult to have confidence in employees to be productive. This has prompted some organisations to implement the usage of tracking technologies to monitor their activity.

Why Should It Be Lowered?

The significant issue here is that having leaders with productivity paranoia shows that there is a lack of trust within the organisation. Having surveillance systems on employees can portray the image that their employers undermine their commitment, discipline, and work ethic.

Furthermore, tracking technologies merely track activity and not impact or quality. Keeping a close eye on your employees may be counterproductive as it can lead them to feel uncomfortable or pressured, unable to perform at their best. Rising levels of anxiety among employees are also a crucial concern that may affect overall well-being.

Ultimately, productivity paranoia can be seen as a self-fulfilling prophecy. As defined by Britannica, a self-fulfilling prophecy is a process where a false expectation eventually leads to the confirmation of that expectation. When leaders pose distrust, micromanagement and unnecessarily strict working systems – it can be expected that employees will feel pressured, and this can lead to the decline of their work and productivity.  

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How Can Employers Lower It?

The main thing that employers need to remember is that they should have trust in the people that work in their organisation. Leaders should also remember that employees are hired because they are qualified and suitable for the position, and they have committed to doing the work. Regular catchups and feedback are encouraged, but not to the point where it can become overwhelming.

Other than that, some active measures that can be taken by employers include:

  • Setting goals to ensure that the work assigned is aligned with the company trajectory
  • Creating and reinforcing a culture that values and rewards impact not just activity
  • Regularly collecting employee feedback to improve and make better decisions
  • Take the opportunity to have regular team bonding and networking sessions
  • Create comprehensive, accessible and open communication networks


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