What if … Productivity as We Know it Has Changed for Good?

June 10, 2020 John McLaughlin

Many organizations are gearing themselves up for a return to the office. For many, work has continued over recent months – just remotely. Clearly there are practical considerations when it comes to working back at the office. However, as companies come out of the crisis response stage and move into the crisis recovery stage, we should also take a look at productivity levels during the past few months.

Productivity has increased for a significant number while working away from the office.
In our recent survey, 31% of organizations reported an increase in productivity levels. Seven per cent reported this increase despite working fewer hours. A total of 24% worked longer hours but were more productive.

One-fifth of organizations reported that working hours and productivity have remained the same. However, only 4% reported that their workforce are working fewer hours and being less productive.

 What Does this Mean for Organizations as They Move Back to the Office?

Organizations are rethinking how to bring people back into the office. The brave – and the rich – are looking at alternatives to a mass re-entry into the office building. Twitter has announced that its employees can work from home as long as they wish. Google is giving EUR1,000  to employees to invest in office equipment for their homes.

It is important to remember that, while some people will flourish by working physically alongside co-workers again, others may want to remain in their home office, distanced and focused. Others still may want a mix of the two locations. In some cases, the increased productivity may be unsustainable, leading to exhaustion; in others, it is thriving due to less commuting etc.

It may be too early to make a fixed judgement as to how productivity is influenced by working away from the office in the long term. However, we can identify an early trend. It is clear that individual differences play an important part in our productivity levels. Is it now time to accept and capitalize on this?

Organizations Need to Consider Roles, Individual Preferences and Possibilities

Those organizations taking the time to understand what works for each role and person will be better placed to maximize on an individual’s productivity.

It is time to create a differentiated return to office strategies and acknowledge that the ‘one size fits all’ approach no longer works.

Together we can align your return to the office strategies with role realities and individual preferences and abilities. It means you can maintain newfound levels of productivity for those employee segments where work-from-home works. However, you can also ensure that those who thrive in office settings or need to be in the office because of role demands, are able to do this. Some organizations have made bold statements about wanting most people to come back into the office – and expecting that most will want to do this. We wonder if these statements are based on data.

Our work with clients encourages them to ask the right questions of their talent data and start to work through how a blend of different working strategies may play out. We help them to implement the tools to monitor and track the impact. For many, this is seriously lacking. Over one-third of companies have admitted that they have no tools in place to measure and assess productivity.

This is not simply about productivity. It is also about recognizing the value that tailored approaches bring to strengthen the employee message. It helps shape what the future world of work may ultimately look like: a career tailored to the individual.

Want to know more about how Human Capital Solutions can help you accelerate your return to work? Request a demo!

Source: Aon’s COVID-19 Pulse Survey 3, published May 6, 2020

About the Author

John McLaughlin

John has worked for Aon’s Assessment Solutions for 10 years in a variety of roles and geographies across Europe, South America, and North America. This in-market experience combined with his current role as the global commercial director for the group leads to an in-depth knowledge of global trends impacting talent strategies across all organizations.

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