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Microsoft boss mocks managers’ “paranoia” about productivity

Interviewed by the BBC, Satya Nadella, CEO of the American giant believes that we should not be afraid of teleworking.

If teleworking very quickly imposed itself in the United States at the height of the covid health crisis, many companies have been sounding the reminder in the office for several months quite aggressively, such as at Apple, Tesla or Google.

In question, the sensitive question of productivity considered by managers to be less good when employees work from home. A vision swept away by the boss of Microsoft who places his trust on the side of employees rather than management.

Asked by the BBC, Satya Nadella, managing director of the American giant is very clear: “We must overcome what we describe as a paranoia of productivity, because all the data we have show that more than 80% of individuals consider themselves to be very productive, except their management thinks they’re not. That means there’s a real mismatch between expectations and how they feel.”

9 out of 10 employees feel more productive at home

And indeed, according to an internal study, 87% of Microsoft employees feel more productive when working from home, while 80% of Microsoft managers think that teleworkers are less so.

Several studies confirm the feeling of Satya Nadella, especially in France. “Unlike many other previous crises which led to a slowdown in trend productivity, the acceleration of the use of teleworking linked to the health crisis could ultimately lead to a lasting gain in productivity”, advances the National Council of the productivity (CNP).

“The increase in the proportion of teleworkers from around 5% in the pre-Covid period (4% of regular teleworkers in 2019, editor’s note) to 25% in the longer term” would generate an average productivity gain of 5 to 9%” continues the organization.

A study by the Sapiens Institute, for its part, evaluates the productivity gains made through teleworking at 22%, but warns that a generalization over the long term could have perverse counterproductive effects.

“What is a desk for?”

But while American employees are now in a position of strength, especially in tech, refractory companies like Apple have to put water in their wine. Refusing to work from home means exposing yourself to major talent leaks and resignations, which in a context of talent shortages are catastrophic for companies.

Point that Microsoft understood very well. Its policy allows employees to be 50% of their time in telework, and even to ask for more with the approval of management. Unlike its great rival Apple, which has to undergo a revolt from its employees.

In an internal survey, 76% of the employees of the firm at the apple say they are dissatisfied with the plan to return to the office, and 56% plan to leave the company because of these new rules.

And then there are the companies that have given up on bringing anyone back, believing that working in an office is nonsense. This is the case of Brian Chesky, boss of Airbnb. “I think the office as we know it is over, he says. It’s kind of an anachronistic form. It comes from a pre-digital age. Obviously people will continue to go to hospitals to work, to go to cafes to work. But I think for someone whose work is done on a laptop, the question is: what is a desk good for?”

Olivier Chicheportiche Journalist BFM Business



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