June 24, 2020

The puzzle of pandemic productivity

Going remote has been great for some workers, but there are hidden costs.

Have you been working hard during lockdown… or hardly working? Dad jokes aside, it’s a question on everyone’s mind lately.

In the early days of quarantine, some employers apparently worried that their newly remote workers might waste the workday bingeing Netflix. There was a huge uptick in sales of employee-monitoring software.

But remote work is here to stay — big companies like Twitter and Facebook are embracing it permanently.

So are we really getting more done, or just spinning our wheels?

The answer might surprise you

The New York Times says CEOs of companies including Chegg, Cisco, and Microsoft have actually observed a productivity bump.

And it makes sense. When you eliminate commutes, lengthy meetings, and small talk, you free up a lot of time to tackle real tasks.

But is it worth it to work it so hard?

Sir Isaac Newton frickin’ invented calculus during a plague (though to be fair, his story was more about passion than pure productivity). Is it so much to expect you to log into Slack and look alert?

Actually, maybe.

According to a Twingate survey of 1k+ WFHers, remote work can erode any semblance of work-life balance:

  • 45% of respondents said they attended more meetings during the pandemic than in the Before Times. Only 21% reported attending fewer.
  • 40% reported Zoom fatigue.

Commodifying every waking moment can lead to anxiety and burnout. Working parents face an even more fraught situation.

But productivity is a state of mind

Not to get all woo-woo on you, but maybe perception is the key to work-life happiness. After all, activity and productivity are 2 very different things. You can waste a lot of time jumping into Slack to remind your boss that you’re around and paying attention.

And a YouGov survey for Evernote suggests more people are figuring this out.

  • 48% of respondents reported adopting a slower pace during quarantine.
  • 51% allowed themselves to broaden their definitions of “productivity” to include learning new skills.

Have you developed a pandemic productivity hack? Fill out this 2-question survey to tell us more.

Daily briefings, straight to your inbox

Business and tech news in 5 minutes or less

Join over 1 million people who read The Hustle

Psst

How'd Bezos build a billion dollar empire?

In 1994, Jeff Bezos discovered a shocking stat: Internet usage grew 2,300% per year.

Data shows where markets are headed.

And that’s why we built Trends — to show you up-and-coming market opportunities about to explode. Interested?

Join us, it's free.

Look, you came to this site because you saw something cool. But here’s the deal. This site is actually a daily email that covers the important news in business, tech, and culture.

So, if you like what you’re reading, give the email a try.