Does comfort = productivity?


As a large portion of Australia remains in lockdown, the dramatic shift of workers working within the comfort of their own homes has many leaders asking ‘has productivity increased, and is the notion of productivity no longer about presence in an office?’

After getting a taste of this comfort last year, and being re-introduced to it as each lockdown is announced, many workers have relished working in a level of comfort not experienced before, and are reluctant to return to the traditional 9-5 office space. From increased time with family to abolished commute times and costs being spent elsewhere doing things that are of value to us.

How can we know if this type of work has increased or decreased our productivity at work? And would our direct leaders agree? One thing is for sure, we are definitely rethinking productivity in a remote working world.

Workers have continuously juggled work/life responsibilities and balance between work, family, health and other commitments, and employers have always sought to support this. However, pre-pandemic, it was reported that burnout was for the most part, work related. In recent research, burnout has been reported as rising as it has morphed into other sectors of our lives as we learn to live with the pandemic.

Harvard Business Review reported that traditional internal workplace burnout was found to be due to unmanageable workload and unreasonable time pressure, amongst other things. Whether employee burnout is caused by internal or external factors, it has a direct negative impact on productivity and can result in low motivation, chronic fatigue and poor performance and is an issue that needs to be resolved at an organisational level.

So as some workers may be relishing in an increased sense of time, freedom and comfort during working days, many instead may be feeling the brunt of the morphed burnout.

It makes sense that workers’ positive health and wellbeing play a critical role in their work performance, in addition to having manageable workloads.

So, the answer is, as workers, we need to prioritise our wellbeing and therefore comfort in our day-to-day operations. We also need to normalise being uncomfortable and being adaptive to change to better facilitate this wellbeing. In return, our engagement, job satisfaction and productivity will flourish.

On the other end, organisations and leaders have responsibilities to invest in workers’ wellbeing and ensure burnout is being disintegrated, by managing internal burnout and providing resources for workers to minimise their external burnout as best as possible.

When we consider how comfortable workers are in their daily lives, we can start to gauge if they will be productive in their work output due to a greater sense of wellbeing.

I am however interested in further breaking down what productivity looks like in a pandemic environment. Keep an eye out on Peopleconnexion socials for an article exploring this later this month which will further explore productivity in a remote environment!

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