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How to Define Productivity for Your Teams (and Why You Should)

employees collaborating in an office, professionals in a meeting room
Sabrina Dorronsoro
Published on

Did you know that over 70% of hybrid employees believe they are more productive at home? Another 46% of people cite it as THE top barrier between them and the office. 

When asked why, respondents to our RTO Report pointed to their home desk setups, the lack of noise and their overall ability to get sh*t done. 

Yet, isn’t productivity more than just heads-down work? Let’s find out.

How do Employees Define Productivity?

By and large, employees do feel like they are more productive at home, 71% in fact. Participants who felt strongly anti-office cited the noisy environment and lack of focus space. This is interesting to note because many companies are gearing their office design towards more collaborative spaces. Think: open areas, meeting rooms meant for collaboration and wall-less floor plans. 

Yet, to get people back into the office, it may be more beneficial to consider how to create more heads-down focused areas for team members that don’t work as well in open floor plans. 

“I am more productive at home,” explained one survey participant. “We have an open office environment and it is so noisy that I cannot get work done. If we had cubicles or an office, my preference would be to still work at home but I would be more open to being at the office. An open office environment may work for some but not for me.”

These notes around noisiness do also raise the question: Does the way we define productivity influence our opinions about the office? According to respondents, not only do they feel more productive at home, they also feel more energized and more creative.

Which makes us wonder: In lieu of recent conversations, are people looking at productivity purely through the lens of output? In a research report from the end of 2023, we found that leaders use the following metrics to measure productivity: 

  • Employee output (64%)
  • Employee engagement (46%)
  • Company revenue (44%)
  • Customer retention (39%)

Clearly, output is a top concern so It would be understandable if both teams and leaders were focused on that single metric. Just consider the recent onslaught of mass layoffs and empty job searches. 

Have Layoffs Warped Our Perception of Productivity?

Since January 1st, 2023, over 5487 companies have announced mass layoffs and since January 2024, over 1582 companies have announced mass layoffs. If employees are already concerned about job security then maybe they are laser-focused on the output levels they can achieve at home? 

Coming in at the second spot, employee engagement is also an area of focus. Maybe, time spent in the office is more geared towards that engagement piece. 

Whatever the reasoning, it’s clear that workplace managers, facilities leaders and IT teams have work to do when it comes to resourcing the office to support productive days. 

When people make the trek into the office they expect access to the things they need. From meeting rooms to hot desks to other types of spaces, many respondents reported having solutions in place but of those that don’t, the time lost searching for the right resources is a major time suck.


Addressing Productivity Concerns 

While employers can't do much about the commute into the office (other than pay for the trip), they can positively impact productivity once people get to the office. A considerable amount of the nearly 600 hybrid employees who participated in our survey cited lost productivity as a major concern when coming into the office. Here's what we found.

Friction with office meeting room scheduling 

Nearly 90% of participants noted that their company uses meeting room booking software. Of those that didn’t, 74% of respondents said it takes them up to 10 minutes to find a free meeting room.

“There aren’t enough meeting rooms available for recurring meetings, it takes a lot of time to schedule these meetings when there is such little space and everyone needs a room,” noted one respondent. 

Overall, the amount of meetings on the calendar didn’t have too much impact on whether or not a person came into the office on a given day. When asked: do you tend to come into the office more on days with lots of meetings or days with a fairly open schedule, respondents said: 

  • More 36%
  • No difference 34%
  • Fewer 30%

When taking a meeting in the office, 30% of survey respondents noted that more than half of the call attendees were working remotely or from another location.

Interestingly enough, nearly 30% of respondents reported less than half of attendees took the call virtually. This suggests that while some people are coming in the office and sitting on video calls, they are also meeting in-person more frequently.

In fact, when respondents were in the office, 46% reported occasionally having ad-hoc meetings with other team members in the office. Another 23% reported having these spontaneous meetings frequently, with another 20% saying this almost always happens. 

These impromptu moments of collaboration suggest that when people do make the trek to the office, they are more likely to interact and collaborate with other team members. Which, in turn, leads to more innovation and connectedness for the entire company. just take a look at these stats:

  • People who collaborate and have access to digital collaboration tools are as much as 17% happier with work and work culture than those who don’t (Deloitte)
  • Employees who "felt like members of a team" were over 200% more likely to be and stay engaged in their workplace, according to a global study of 19,000 workers and their engagement in the workplace. (ADP Research Institute)

Hot desking and flexible seating

Over 70% of participants said they use desk booking software. Of those that didn’t, 62% said they spend up to 10 minutes looking for a free desk.

In fact, when asked if they take any extra measures to secure their favorite desk 63% of hybrid employees said yes. Of those that did take extra measures to secure their favorite desk, the majority pointed to things like leaving the house early, taking a better train or, even, showing up to the office before the doors open. 

“I find it very aggravating when I come to work, and a stranger is sitting at my desk. I then have to tell them to get out of my seat,” explained another. 

When asked what criteria they were looking for when selecting a desk, the majority of respondents ranked preferences in this order: 

  1. Desk near my team
  2. Desk near teams you want to collaborate with
  3. Desk near your favorite amenities (coffee, kitchen, collab areas)
  4. Desk with the right equipment set up
  5. Desk in the proximity of leadership

With both desks near team members and desks near other departments being top priority, it’s clear that when people do come into the office they want to be around other people. 

Expanding Our Definition of Productivity

Problem-solving and creativity require non-linear processes. Ideating, discussing, revising, brainstorming, and workshopping aren't about task completion but project innovation.

The work that adds the most value is often less about checking off a to-do list and more about leveraging a range of working styles to find the best solution. 

The difference between good companies and great companies lies in understanding that difference. Modern offices should be laser-focused on supporting face-to-face collaboration that can’t happen at home. 

Are you ready to make your office a more productive, purposeful space? Let’s chat.

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Does your office collaboration need a reboot?

Find out if your workplace strategy is a hit or a miss.

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