Large portions of the workforce have been working remotely for more than two and a half years. Knowledge workers have frequently been successful in continuing to be productive in remote and hybrid work settings, with a broad return to fully in-person, pre-pandemic working habits largely abandoned.  

However, many employers still have problems trusting people who work remotely, according to a September 2022 Microsoft poll of 20,006 global knowledge workers. In fact, 85% of leaders think that the transition to hybrid work has made it difficult to have confidence in the productivity of their workforce. And while 87% of employees feel their performance is fine, only 12% of bosses say they are completely confident in the productivity of their staff. 

How can HR assist managers in dealing with this new occurrence in a world where employers are becoming more concerned with employee productivity and motivation and employees are demanding more autonomy and flexibility? 

BTS with its intense amount of knowledge and skilled service base, is ready to answer your questions.  

What is Productive Paranoia?  

The notion that if employees are out of sight, employers won’t believe them even if they are putting in the hours.  

This is concerning because one of the most crucial elements of any workplace is trust. Without it, employees could find it difficult to encourage one another and may feel awkward sharing their opinions and ideas. Negative work environments can foster habits like overworking and presenteeism, which are known to increase stress levels and have an adverse effect on both physical and mental health. 

How can Managers and Leaders avoid Productive Paranoia?  

Even though knowledge work is frequently outcome-based, managers have historically gauged workers’ productivity by the number of hours they spend at their desks. According to Ayelet Fishbach, a professor of behavioral psychology at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business in the US, “Time is the most popular indicator of productivity because it’s easiest to quantify.” “Idea quality is harder to quantify than employee time in the office.” 

According to Fishbach, there is a natural tendency for people to have more faith in those who are physically there. Managers are therefore programmed to be extra wary of actions taking place within remote teams. It’s more difficult for a manager to predict how long a task should take a remote employee as compared to in-person work, when there are frequent interactions with an employee. When the task isn’t visible, it’s simple to believe that it ought to be finished sooner. 

Let’s cover a few points to fight the paranoia: 

Provide Context 

Set communication expectations  

Establish team norms  

Include an agenda 

Async communication 

Screen sharing  


Various businesses and industries will have different rethinking management practices. Employers who aren’t constrained by decades-old procedures, for instance, might be able to transition to outcome-based thinking more quickly. Additionally, there are logistical considerations at work: smaller organizations, which have fewer established processes and hierarchies, can more readily change to a new leadership style that encourages hybrid working patterns. 

However, this procedure will probably take some time. Given the disparity between leaders’ and employees’ perceptions of output in remote environments, productivity phobia in some businesses may completely stop hybrid labor. However, if irate bosses summon the personnel back to the office, they risk driving some of them away. Arguably, productivity paranoia represents a failure by managers to adapt to the new world of work – even as employees are eagerly grabbing it.

BTS believes the best way to combat is to be reflective in your work pattern and to adapt to the new way of work.  

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