Microsoft CEO Says Your Boss Probably Thinks You Are Slacking Off While Working From Home

Satya Nadella, an executive chairman and CEO of Microsoft, reveals bosses have a 'productivity paranoia' regarding remote work.

Around the beginning of 2020, the number of people that began to work from home skyrocketed. Organizations, bosses, and employees lacked the time to plan for remote work or to consider the best ways to change their cultures, teams, and processes to operate entirely online. No one knows how long the COVID-19 pandemic will last: hence an increase in the number of remote workers.

Perhaps the best thing to ever happen to many of us was working from home. We no longer needed to deplete our earnings, coughing up cash for increasingly expensive public transport. We are no longer required to sacrifice spare time for long commutes.

After the worst of the Covid-19 outbreak, there has been a significant culture shift in office work. Many roles no longer make sense to be performed on-site as a result of the development of internet infrastructure and cloud-based services. However, there is an ongoing dispute about whether this results in higher or lower productivity.


According to a recent Windows Central report on changing workplace attitudes, Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, explained that bosses are worried that their employees may slack off when working from home.

“It’s important we get over what we call ‘productivity paranoia.’ All of the data we have indicates that over 80% of people believe they are very productive. But their management disagrees. That shows the presence of a significant mismatch between what people expect and how they actually feel.”

The survey across Microsoft businesses

Satya Nadella by Richard Morgenstein under CC BY-SA 4.0

Nadella cited a significant organization-wide poll about remote work. While 80% of Microsoft’s administrative layer believes that employees are less productive when working from home, 87% of Microsoft employees feel that working from home made them more productive. Nadella also pointed out that remote working was only offered in 2% of LinkedIn job postings prior to the epidemic, but that number has since increased to 20%.


Microsoft’s current work-from-home policy permits employees to work remotely up to 50% of the time; any time beyond that requires seeking managerial consent.

Other large corporations seem to oppose working from home

Bosses that want employees back in the workplace might wish to benefit from in-person engagement in ways that work from home cannot.

remote work

Despite the fact that workers are happy with the work-from-home arrangements, many businesses are starting to summon them back into the office.


Businesses like Tesla, Google, and Apple have been aggressive in their efforts to re-engage their office population.

Due to its policy of putting its engineers and developers back into office cubicles, there have been rumors that Apple may really miss out on key talent.

Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, has insisted that his staff members work 40 hours minimum per week in the office or risk being fired. He is known for sleeping at the company’s factories during heavy production periods.


In an internal email initially made public on the news website Electrek, Musk stated that “the more senior you are, the more prominent your presence must be. I spent so much time at the factory as I wanted the employees on the production line to see me working alongside them.”

According to Briker, opinions like Musk’s that encourage a dominant presence in the workplace may be related to phenomena known as the “mere exposure effect.”

portrait of colleagues working at workplace with colleague

It implies that your likeness to someone may increase the more you are exposed to them. According to Briker, increasing exposure could result in assumptions being made about employees and management that are favorable, such as “these individuals work harder.”


Why is it necessary to recall someone to work?

Roman Briker, who is an assistant professor of organizational behavior at Maastricht University, noted that while bosses have methods to track productivity as workers work remotely, it is more difficult to measure improvements gained by face-to-face engagement.

This could be the reason why businesses are increasingly urging their staff to return to the workplace.

Similarly, a boss’ concern that their staff may slack off while working from home is one reason why some bosses are skeptical of the work-from-home culture.


The future of work

Some employees, like Agrawal, don’t see much of a future in working for businesses that have stringent in-person work requirements.

“Maybe it’s not the best idea to force me into the office every week,” he remarked.

According to Microsoft’s research, “Gen-Z” workers are the most likely to change jobs. 90% of them are connected to LinkedIn, changing jobs in some capacity during the covid-19 epidemic.


Hybrid working approach

A transition to working from home does not imply that employees must only work from home. The most effective option often involves dividing time between the office and the home. At times, it might be necessary for remote employees to attend physical meetings – to keep them fully informed and participating.

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