Productivity Paranoia

The term "productivity paranoia” was a new one for me when I encountered it in a conversation. I had to admit ignorance and ask the speaker for a definition. I was told that this is when some bosses fear that remote employees aren’t working enough despite data showing just the opposite. He said, "Yeah, they get the work done, but I suspect they are also walking the dog, running errands and watching their kids during what should be 'working hours'."

Defined by Microsoft as a scenario “where leaders fear that lost productivity is due to employees not working, even though hours worked, number of meetings, and other activity metrics have increased,” productivity paranoia is mostly associated with remote/virtual and hybrid workers.

Productivity paranoia is prevalent enough that some companies have invested in expensive technology to monitor their employees’ whereabouts and active time online. Tracking software, surveillance cameras, and GPS data are all possibilities and in one survey 97% of business leaders surveyed believed such software has increased workers’ productivity.

Image:StockSnap from Pixabay

But couldn't this level of tracking bordering on "surveillance" have negative effects on workers and perhaps on their productivity?

Some articles say that those who are so monitored tend to be less loyal and more distrustful of their employers. It certainly is a more stressful work environment.

Another article says that "the average adult’s focused attention span is between 90 and 120 minutes and peaks at about 45 minutes" and that "taking a 10-minute break between a working interval of up to 90 minutes can help reset your attention span and keep cognitive momentum going."

For me, that is too long a span. As I am an almost entirely virtual worker now, I have found myself using the "Pomodoro method."

When you start a task (not a project, but a piece of it), set a timer and work on that task for 25 minutes. Then, take a short break (3-5 minutes). Start working on the task again for 25 minutes and repeat until it’s completed. Not only is that short break good for your brain and concentration but physically it is important for you to get out of a chair and move.


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