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WFH has kept us productive.But that may have reduced our creativity

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Employees save expensive city center lunch breaks and employers reduce the cost of office supplies. Good so far, but according to a new Microsoft study, working from home can hinder workers’ creativity and hinder the innovative new ideas companies need to desperately succeed.

The survey surveyed 9,000 managers and employees in 15 European markets, starting with some good news. At the beginning of the pandemic, many companies were worried that remote work could have a negative impact on productivity, but the opposite was true. An overwhelming 82% of senior executives report that productivity levels are steadily maintained or increased as a result of working from home.

At the same time, business leaders recognize the economic value of extending their telecommuting policy. More than half of the decision makers surveyed expect to save money by reducing office footprint and travel costs.

By establishing telecommuting as part of the corporate culture, companies can also significantly increase the attractiveness of the organization to future top talent, while at the same time acting as a key factor in retaining current employees. recognizing.

Managers’ enthusiasm for working from home is generally consistent with employees. Employees are particularly attracted to saying goodbye to strict office etiquette. The majority of respondents in the Microsoft survey (69%) are more casual as one of the biggest reasons to enjoy working remotely, in addition to being able to personalize their workspace and work with their pets. I’m giving you a lot of clothes.

Employees are also productive at home because their days aren’t disturbed by casual breaks and listening to colleagues over the phone in a shared workspace. According to a similar survey conducted by Microsoft last year, workers felt that 52% of their working days were wasted due to unnecessary interference. Since the beginning of the pandemic, that number has dropped to 41%.

The conclusions that business leaders should draw seem pretty clear. The key to success is to maintain flexible labor practices after the Covid-19 crisis has subsided. However, while remotework has made it possible to be more sustainable and sometimes better productive, Microsoft reports warn that this is only part of the big picture.

Michael Park, an assistant professor of business administration at the University of Pennsylvania and a collaborator in the study, said: “Employees seem to be less likely to bend over and distract while working remotely and enjoy little or no commuting time. Wear casual clothing and take care of household chores. “

“But cost seems to be a loss of purpose. At work, it’s mainly by looking at strong and cohesive relationships and how your tasks affect others. Will be triggered. “

Working from home means that it’s much harder to connect with colleagues, whether at a formal meeting or at lunch. Therefore, employees feel more and more separated from the company. According to Microsoft, this has a direct impact on a company’s ability to innovate.

Last year, according to a report, up to 56% of leaders believed that their products and services were innovative. This was only true for 40% of respondents in 2020. Brainstorming would be very difficult without employees sharing the space. In other words, new ideas are struggling to come to fruition rather than being implemented.

In addition, employees struggle to maintain attachment to the team, making them less likely to maintain loyalty to the company. According to another recent study by HP, the phenomenon is particularly prevalent in the younger generation, with nearly half of Gen Z employees now feeling separated from corporate culture. .. In that context, retaining top talent can be an important business challenge.

There are various ways leaders can address the administrative issues posed by global WFH experiments. To ensure that fresh ideas continue to be generated, Microsoft empowers employees by empowering them to work on tasks with consequences or make decisions without a manager. recommend to.

Microsoft also suggests that senior leaders provide more support to managers. Managers often have to suddenly lead a team for the first time in effect. Over 60% of the managers surveyed say they feel they haven’t effectively learned how to delegate and empower virtual teams.

Sarah Fisher, Human Resources Director at Microsoft EMEA, said: “Many workers find it difficult to quickly adapt to new methods of remotework, including managers and leaders who are facing challenges as well as ensuring that they achieve their core business goals. We also ensure that team cohesion and engagement are maintained during times of stress, not just when uncertainty is high. “

The night shift to telecommuting caused by the pandemic certainly entailed a series of challenges for employees working in their daily lives in a variety of environments, from unconventional to unpleasant. .. But looking to the future, it seems that the bigger challenges facing business leaders are still rising. Fostering an innovative corporate culture after 2020 is no easy task, no matter how short your morning commute is.

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