What’s the problem with looking busy?

Employee productivity largely improved while working remotely. Many employees don’t want to go back to working in the office full time and this has become a valuable employee perk when trying to attract new talent. When you include remote workers, your job pool grows exponentially.

But… Life is not as easy as it seems for knowledge workers.

Qatalog partnered with GitLab to understand knowledge workers’ experience of asynchronous work, the barriers to adoption, and its growing importance in the modern workplace. The findings of the report Killing Time at Work mean a lot.

Check out the stats

  • 54% of knowledge workers feel pressure to show they are online at certain times of the day – and workers spend an additional 67 minutes online every day, to show their colleagues and managers they are still present and ‘working’.
  • The average knowledge worker now receives notifications from six applications, and 73% of workers reply to these notifications outside of their working hours – making it hard to switch off.
  • 81% of knowledge workers believe they are more productive and create higher quality output when they have more flexibility over when they work, and 65% of those regularly working asynchronously said it had a positive impact on their wellbeing.
  • 66% of knowledge workers said they would resign from a job if their flexibility to choose their hours was limited, and 43% would consider a lower paid role if it gave them greater flexibility over when they work.

From the bosses’ perspective, the busy worker is often a more reassuring sight. The old-fashioned habits of executives are putting invisible pressure on remote employees. Judging by the comments from around the world, employees are increasingly trying to “look busy”. The busy ones are already too busy. However, employees who spend the working day more relaxed for different reasons feel threatened. This threat felt by the employees makes them leave this uncomfortable environment as soon as possible.

Of course, not all managers are proponents of busy work. Many believe in “outcome-based” tasks rather than time-based tasks.

We suggest you read the following article published on BBC Work Life. The article has the following remark:

“The perception is not just that a busy worker is engaged and making an effort, but even that their industriousness gives them a higher moral value than their less busy colleagues. This sets up a dynamic in which two office workers completing identical tasks can be judged on their busyness, rather than their results. Who appears to be more engaged: the busy worker who skips lunch to get things finished, or the efficient worker who finishes early and uses the time saved to buy groceries online?”

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