Most people think their colleagues aren't being productive while working from home

Nobina

Posts: 3,775   +4,196
One of my sisters colleagues went to a store while he was supposed to be working. Little did he know, his boss was in the store as well.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 2,349   +2,869
TechSpot Elite
What I hear: "Our employees aren't as productive from home!"
What I see: Corporations continue to rake in record profits.

Hearing rich executives crying is music to my ears. I WANT MORE OF IT! :D
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 2,203   +4,239
then you have to have more trackers depending on the job.how are you going manage that as well? its doable, but adds layers
Some things are just not very easy to track at all, coding for example. We try to follow (But not necessarily conform) to Agile methodology at work, have trackers to report how much time we spend both coding or doing other supporting activities incidental to em, we have daily meetings where everyone needs to clarify the status of their current given task and manager can make sure tasks get completed in a timely matter. Doing as much as it's reasonably possible to keep on top of progress.

Yet at the end of the day, coding it's still a problem solving skill that involves not just being analytical and reactive but a measure of creativity to come up with a solution that works within the code's logic and well, that's though to measure: Sometimes I can just start typing code right away after I know what the issue is, sometimes I literally stare at the screen for hours stuck and even have to ask co-workers for help to get a second pair of eyes on an issue.

That's kind of why I have a problem with many folks (Includying many of the ones on this very thread) thinking all productivity issues can be solved by cracking a whip at the back of the employees: You can make sure I am connected and ready to work on time, through the day, you can even monitor every single thing I type on my work PC if you're that paranoid, drag me into endless meetings to discuss why I am taking too long on a particular task and none of that is going to actually remove the mental block sometimes happens. In fact in my experience, just standing up, taking a break for a while, switching tasks or even calling it a day on that task for an extended period of time helps a lot more than all these people suggesting I just need to get to an office cubicle to have managers and nosy co-workers over my shoulder all day.
 

waclark

Posts: 347   +236
I know for a fact!
Our sales staff "works from home" but I know that at least a couple of them don't do much while they are at home. Oh they might send an email or make a phone call, but they aren't doing much of anything. But the service & support staff is in the office 5 days a week.
About once a week, one of the sales guys might show up to check on some equipment but that's about it.
I don't know what your sales staff does, but as someone who has worked in sales for years and worked from home prior to Covid I can tell you that a successful sales person does a ton of work. Just because they don't show up at the office doesn't mean they aren't working.

Prior to Covid, most of my day was driving back and forth to customer meetings, 8-10 hours on a daily basis. When not in front of customers I was at the home office doing the necessary paperwork to get my clients the products and support they needed. I spent very little time in the office, but my productivity was obvious, based on whether I was at my sales goals or not.

A sales person doesn't have to be "technically" smart but they do have to understand their product's value and how to position that value to the customer such that they want to buy it. A lot of people think it doesn't take much to be a sales rep but I'll tell you that a good sales person is actually very smart about how to do their job. Otherwise, they won't last long in sales.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 7,694   +6,633
Some things are just not very easy to track at all, coding for example.
True, even commits to source control do not always tell the full story.
We try to follow (But not necessarily conform) to Agile methodology at work, have trackers to report how much time we spend both coding or doing other supporting activities incidental to em, we have daily meetings where everyone needs to clarify the status of their current given task and manager can make sure tasks get completed in a timely matter. Doing as much as it's reasonably possible to keep on top of progress.
We don't totally follow agile methodology; however, I usually touch base with my manager to let him know what I am doing and how its progressing and that includes problems I may be having at the time.
Yet at the end of the day, coding it's still a problem solving skill that involves not just being analytical and reactive but a measure of creativity to come up with a solution that works within the code's logic and well, that's though to measure: Sometimes I can just start typing code right away after I know what the issue is, sometimes I literally stare at the screen for hours stuck and even have to ask co-workers for help to get a second pair of eyes on an issue.
Right there with you.
That's kind of why I have a problem with many folks (Includying many of the ones on this very thread) thinking all productivity issues can be solved by cracking a whip at the back of the employees:
Agreed. And now we understand why some of those same people think that they should have dominion over a woman's reproductive organs, and why some of the others think that Russia, China, Putin, and Xi are leaders to be emulated and have economic systems to be cherished. I bet working for them would be akin to hell on Earth.
You can make sure I am connected and ready to work on time, through the day, you can even monitor every single thing I type on my work PC if you're that paranoid, drag me into endless meetings to discuss why I am taking too long on a particular task and none of that is going to actually remove the mental block sometimes happens. In fact in my experience, just standing up, taking a break for a while, switching tasks or even calling it a day on that task for an extended period of time helps a lot more than all these people suggesting I just need to get to an office cubicle to have managers and nosy co-workers over my shoulder all day.
Fortunately, my manager understands that things take time, that breaks are needed, and gives great guidance when I request it.

If there is one thing that I dislike in the grand scheme of things where I work its our weekly meeting - where I get to hear about the problems that the rest of the department faces even though those problems do not affect me. I give about a minute or two of detail on what I am doing, and the rest of the 60+ minutes is a gigantic waste of my time.

IMO, you get it and the clowns with the whips have no clue.

Personally, I was more productive at home - which, in part, is something I credit to not being bothered by noise and other nuisances. I could access all the computers that I needed to that are physically at work through our VPN, our source control is in the cloud, and we did meetings via Zoom or other services.

I bet at least some of those that think that no one can be as productive working from home let alone more productive are the people who, themselves, like to screw around and do not have a good work ethic. IMO, that's what it comes down to is the work ethic each person has. For those who do not have a good work ethic, no one, except through, perhaps, showing them the revolving door of employment, will be able to change their ways. The trouble with that is determining someone's work ethic, before hiring them, is not an easy task.
 

Hexic

Posts: 1,213   +1,889
TechSpot Elite
There's this beautiful thing called trust but verify. If you're work output isn't where it needs to be, then you get looked at.

If your work is getting done and you're performing well - your boss shouldn't care what you're doing, where you are, or when you're doing it.

I work at a very large consulting firm, and outside of standardized meetings with clients, we have no formal schedule to adhere to - if you get your work done, nobody cares if you take an afternoon to take the kids to the beach.
 

Guyver1wales

Posts: 18   +26
Someone who isn't productive at home and slacks off playing games, getting high blah blah wasn't productive in the office either, they just hid it better.

That's a personality type.

People who have a good work ethic and work productively on their jobs list will work hard and get through their tasks wherever they work.
 

dragosmp

Posts: 68   +74
Working from home depends on the person. I legit feel more productive at home because the work I'm supposed to be doing actually gets done. When in the office I'd be pulled from pillar to post and the work I was supposed to be doing gets pushed.

On the other hand, I for sure know colleagues that do a lot less when working from home. I see them playing video games all day or they don't respond to me until certain times (usually just before lunch and just before they finish for the day coincidentally).

I personally like the new hybrid setup, definitely a better work to personal life balance for sure. Nice to not sit in traffic everyday or ride the world's loudest trains (looking at you London Underground jubilee line). It's nice to not have to get up super early everyday or get home late and starving.

But that's just me, if they want to convince people to come to the office everyday, give them incentive to do so, pay rise? Nicer offices? Just spit balling
Good points, and I would add this: WFH for a few months showed that it is possible to work without headakes. I am fortunate to be in an intersting job requiring lots of brain power, rather than hammering repetitive tasks, very fortunate, but I thought the grind is mandatory, part and parcel for this job. The light quality and constant noise in the office turns out are a massive drain. I would admit that some days I am more productive at work, as coworker interactions do lead to rare amazing ideas, but more often just waste my time and attention. These few productive at-work days take a huge toll on my health, that then I need to pay by having a few very unproductive days and faking work (hence meetings, inverviews, etc). Between WFH and WFW, it's a wash in terms of productivity, but my health is better with WFH. And yes, I take naps in program, watch favourite Youtube channels, and work, in the garden if it's sunny, in the garage if it's not. Occasionally we are a group and do a "work from x's home" session, where we work together and interact while not being at the office. We exchange mouse moving cheats (because Teams....) and overall it's such a massive huge benefit, I can't imagine going back under the microscope. Boss gets our work that makes him look good to his boss and the tenuous armistice holds for now.

Can see though how WFH doesn't work for everyone, some need the eye watching them to move their arse. I expect if I become that cheat, I'd get fired and be forced to get my arse in gear.
 

zulu53

Posts: 119   +37
So many organization activities are team based that the productivity of the team is what is prioritized over the productivity of the individual: by the team managers. One of the human factors that need to be understood and managed is the human trait of needing to be treated "fairly" and being praised for success or blamed for failure. The evidence of the "fair" treatment needs to be validated by the individual against what their evaluation of the other team members performance is. This evaluation is very difficult to achieve virtually and takes too much time: leading to the negative implications of not being able to "trust" ones fellow team members or the team manager. A distrustful team spends too much work time questioning others work output and decision making: leading to a loss of individual and team productivity. All of this has been known on a global basis since WW2 when considerable time was spend on researching team performance. For teams, remote work did not work then and it does not work now - its not about the technology its about the humans. Humans have not changed.
 

zulu53

Posts: 119   +37
For sure. Especially since the great depression started 11 years after WW1.
Anyway. Depressions suck, but they are very effective. They have even been referred to as efficient.
Not "efficient" but necessary to avoid the "dark ages" of human history where the human race goes completely backwards in knowledge and population. Another human trait. Forgetfulness. Their hubris increases and the complacency with it; until they get reminded yet again by what is, hopefully, only a recession: not the entry into the "dark ages".
 

Tom Yum

Posts: 166   +394
I'm working about 50/50 WFH/in the office, and honestly I get more done at home because I can just focus on getting my job done without being dragged into pointless meetings/office discussions that contribute nothing other than wasting a bunch of time.

But it depends on the individual, some people just can't stop their personal lives bleeding into their work life, others are very good at keeping them separate. If you have a scrap of professionalism it isn't hard, but sadly I'm met plenty of people who wouldn't know what that is. I don't lose sleep over those people however, they'll be found out eventually.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 2,349   +2,869
TechSpot Elite
Given the option, most people will do less, not more.
That says more about you than it does about people in general. Isn't it amazing how the Nords and Swedes are more productive per person than pretty much every other country but allow their workers more rights than pretty much every other country?

There's a lesson to be learned there because it shows the opposite of what you said.
 

zulu53

Posts: 119   +37
I'm working about 50/50 WFH/in the office, and honestly I get more done at home because I can just focus on getting my job done without being dragged into pointless meetings/office discussions that contribute nothing other than wasting a bunch of time.

But it depends on the individual, some people just can't stop their personal lives bleeding into their work life, others are very good at keeping them separate. If you have a scrap of professionalism it isn't hard, but sadly I'm met plenty of people who wouldn't know what that is. I don't lose sleep over those people however, they'll be found out eventually.
Your argument is true for many individual members of a team; however my experience shows that you are likely underestimating your contribution to other team members into making them more productive such that the overall productivity of the team is higher. You don't want to be part of the team but you need to be. You will understand later, when you yourself become a productive team leader. For now follow the leaders directive - as Elon Musk says - just do the 40 hrs per week in the office that is or should be part of your employment contract.
 

zulu53

Posts: 119   +37
Some things are just not very easy to track at all, coding for example. We try to follow (But not necessarily conform) to Agile methodology at work, have trackers to report how much time we spend both coding or doing other supporting activities incidental to em, we have daily meetings where everyone needs to clarify the status of their current given task and manager can make sure tasks get completed in a timely matter. Doing as much as it's reasonably possible to keep on top of progress.

Yet at the end of the day, coding it's still a problem solving skill that involves not just being analytical and reactive but a measure of creativity to come up with a solution that works within the code's logic and well, that's though to measure: Sometimes I can just start typing code right away after I know what the issue is, sometimes I literally stare at the screen for hours stuck and even have to ask co-workers for help to get a second pair of eyes on an issue.

That's kind of why I have a problem with many folks (Including many of the ones on this very thread) thinking all productivity issues can be solved by cracking a whip at the back of the employees: You can make sure I am connected and ready to work on time, through the day, you can even monitor every single thing I type on my work PC if you're that paranoid, drag me into endless meetings to discuss why I am taking too long on a particular task and none of that is going to actually remove the mental block sometimes happens. In fact in my experience, just standing up, taking a break for a while, switching tasks or even calling it a day on that task for an extended period of time helps a lot more than all these people suggesting I just need to get to an office cubicle to have managers and nosy co-workers over my shoulder all day.
Metrics of human activities are clearly helpful in demonstrating productivity and to provide direction for continuos improvements in productivity. Despite what you seem to think, coding or programming is no different than a number of the other activities in computer science and computer engineering (the applied science) and in engineering as a whole. I got out of coding after my degree but found that some of the writings of Steve Gibson were helpful in developing metrics for productive coding: he was a very productive coder. Unfortunately for his career and our society he was not a good team player and could never come to terms with the concept of "synergy"; that is the underpinning of all successful teams. Be careful that you do not fall into the same trap. You need to be a team player to judged as important or successful by your peer group (if that is what you want).
 

zulu53

Posts: 119   +37
That says more about you than it does about people in general. Isn't it amazing how the Nords and Swedes are more productive per person than pretty much every other country but allow their workers more rights than pretty much every other country?

There's a lesson to be learned there because it shows the opposite of what you said.
There is no lesson here - what you say is incorrect. One of the key "rights" that Swedes do not have is the right of freedom to develop their skills and career and team affiliation as they see fit. Having been manager of multi country teams including from the countries you mention. The nordic people while they currently may individually be more productive are not more productive in teams of a single country. The vast majority of the most productive teams are all US based (resident). Diversity in team make-up as a consequence of the "melting pot" nature of the "United" part of US psyche and the freedom to hire (from any country in the world) and fire (allowed by capitalism - the dollor performance metric) that drives the success of synergy allow this to happen. Teams (or sub-teams in my case until I disbanded them) of Swedes or Norwegians or Danes did not do well. I did like many US based managers for the last 300 years - I cherry picked Sweden and convinced all the good Swedes to migrate to America and become Americans thereby making my American based team better than any Sweden based team. So where did that leave Sweden? Poorer performers obviously: second best, third best? Did the same with the Germans and Brits and Australians and Canadians and Peru and Chile and China - but you get the drift? How does America attract all of the high performers - with the freedom to develop that is absent in their own country.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 2,349   +2,869
TechSpot Elite
There is no lesson here - what you say is incorrect. One of the key "rights" that Swedes do not have is the right of freedom to develop their skills and career and team affiliation as they see fit. Having been manager of multi country teams including from the countries you mention. The nordic people while they currently may individually be more productive are not more productive in teams of a single country. The vast majority of the most productive teams are all US based (resident). Diversity in team make-up as a consequence of the "melting pot" nature of the "United" part of US psyche and the freedom to hire (from any country in the world) and fire (allowed by capitalism - the dollor performance metric) that drives the success of synergy allow this to happen. Teams (or sub-teams in my case until I disbanded them) of Swedes or Norwegians or Danes did not do well. I did like many US based managers for the last 300 years - I cherry picked Sweden and convinced all the good Swedes to migrate to America and become Americans thereby making my American based team better than any Sweden based team. So where did that leave Sweden? Poorer performers obviously: second best, third best? Did the same with the Germans and Brits and Australians and Canadians and Peru and Chile and China - but you get the drift? How does America attract all of the high performers - with the freedom to develop that is absent in their own country.
You can say that it's incorrect all you want but a country of just over 10,000,000 people produces their own top-quality fighter jets, submarines, surface ships, radar systems, automobiles, heavy trucks, etc. For the USA to just be even with that, the USA would have to produce over 35x more than Sweden. They don't.

Numbers don't lie, people do.
 
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zulu53

Posts: 119   +37
Quotations of the wrong numbers are a form of lying (called lying by omission). Sure I should have qualified my comments with the statement that I was talking about the private sector and not the public sector of both economies. My comments were on the private sector. Comments on the public sector productivity are very difficult (because of the lack of transparency regarding their true costs) in any case but my comment on your numbers - comes down to quality/capability of the final in use product and making an apples to apples comparison rather than the apple to oranges one the you are making. US=Gold Quality. Sweden=Silver or Bronze Quality. Not getting into the argument of absolute quality but only relative quality. Example for you: SAAB? Who buys their aircraft except Sweden? Few. Who buys US aircraft except the US? Many.
 

scavengerspc

Posts: 2,577   +2,801
TechSpot Elite
You can say that it's incorrect all you want but a country of just over 1,000,000 people produces their own top-quality fighter jets, submarines, surface ships, radar systems, etc. For the USA to just be even with that, the USA would have to produce over 35x more than Sweden. They don't.

Numbers don't lie, people do.
The wrong numbers do lie though ;)

You slipped a digit. Sweden's population is over 10,000,000.
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,496   +1,438
all studies show that remote work during the pandemic *increased* productivity,
"MAY 5, 2022: US labor productivity tumbled by 7.5% in the first quarter of 2022 -- the largest decline in worker output per hour since 1947, according to Labor Department data released Thursday....The report also showed that unit labor costs, or how much workers are paid per unit of output, surged by 11.6% during the quarter. "