Employee productivity can be maintained surprisingly well in a virtual or hybrid work setting, said Boston Consulting Group (BCG) which recently released the results of a survey.
The survey titled “What 12,000 Employees Have to Say About the Future of Remote Work” conducted in the US, Germany, and India indicates there is significant appetite for flexible ways of working among employees as well as increased openness to this from managers, said Debbie Lovich, a BCG managing director and senior partner .
- The pandemic forced employers to move about 40% of employees to remote working
- Some 75% of employees have been able to maintain or improve their perceived productivity on individual tasks such as analysing data, writing presentations, or executing administrative tasks during the first few months of the crisis.
- 51% of employees said they have been able to maintain or improve productivity when working on collaborative tasks such as exchanges with coworkers, working in teams, or interacting with clients.
These results apply across geographic areas and both to employees working remotely and to those onsite, BCG pointed out.
“It turns out that social connectivity is a critical element of what enables us to be productive when collaborating in the workplace,” said Lovich. “So, for any company looking to adapt to new virtual or hybrid virtual/onsite workplaces, promoting virtual social connectivity between colleagues is going to be critical.”
Key factors for enhancing productivity
When analysing the data, BCG said it found four factors that correlate with employees reporting continued or even enhanced productivity on collaborative tasks: social connectivity, mental health, physical health, and workplace tools.
Of these, social connectivity emerged as the most powerful force, the firm noted.
Respondents who reported satisfaction with social connectivity with colleagues are two to three times more likely to maintain or improve their productivity on collaborative tasks as those who are dissatisfied with this, it added.
And employees who experience satisfaction or doing better on all four factors are almost five times as likely to say they have felt able to maintain or improve productivity on collaborative tasks as those who are dissatisfied or doing worse on at least three factors, BCG observed.
A new world of work: What interventions are needed
Survey results also indicate that 60% of employees want some flexibility in where and/or when they work.
“In the future, we’ll see an increasingly distributed workforce in a workplace whose physical footprint will have shifted beyond recognition and will serve very different needs,” said Adriana Dahik, a BCG managing director and partner.
What all this means for employers is that they will have to work to implement new systems, norms, and technologies that will enable them to continue to support and increase workplace productivity, Dahik noted, recommending the following key interventions by employers.
- Identifying ways to maximise social connectivity among employees—whether work happens face to face or remotely
- Creating awareness, tools, and benefits that support the mental and physical health of all employees
- Investing in and building capabilities to use the technologies, tools, and systems that enable employees to work and collaborate remotely
- Measuring employee productivity in conjunction with employee perceptions
- Ensuring that the transitions between respective team norms for onsite and remote are as smooth as possible, giving employees a cohesive experience that feels designed, not random