The Pandemic Is Widening | My Assignment Tutor

PRODUCTIVITYThe Pandemic Is Wideninga Corporate ProductivityGapby Eric Garton and Michael MankinsDECEMBER 01, 2020HBR STAFFDuring the Covid-19 pandemic, most businesses have adopted new ways of working. Manyemployees have gone remote, interacting with customers and coworkers virtually. Others continue togo to a workplace each day, but perform their jobs very differently. Everyone is doing their best. Buthow productive have companies actually been during the pandemic relative to where they werebefore Covid-19?COPYRIGHT © 2020 HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL PUBLISHING CORPORATION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 2The short answer: It depends on the company. Some have remained remarkably productive duringthe Covid-era, capitalizing on the latest technology to collaborate effectively and efficiently. Most,however, are less productive now than they were 12 months ago. The key difference between the bestand the rest is how successful they were at managing the scarce time, talent, and energy of theirworkforces before Covid-19. Companies that were stars before the pandemic have continued to shine.Those with less stellar performance have struggled mightily.To elaborate, in our 2017 book Time, Talent, Energy: Overcome Organizational Drag and Unleash YourTeam’s Productive Power we demonstrated that three factors best explain the relative productivity oflarge organizations:• The time each employee has to dedicate to productive work each day, without distraction fromexcessive e-communications, unnecessary meetings, or bureaucratic processes and procedures;• The talent that each worker can bring to their job and, importantly, how an organization’s besttalent is deployed, teamed and led; and• The discretionary energy each employee is willing to invest in their work and dedicate to thesuccess of the company, its customers and other stakeholders.The companies that are the very best at managing scarce time, talent and energy — that is, theaverage of the top quartile of companies in our research — are 40% more productive than the rest (theaverage of the remaining three quartiles). This enormous productivity gap is a key source ofcompetitive advantage for the very best companies.Covid-19 has affected all three drivers of workforce productivity — time, talent and energy. But thebest have felt the impact very differently from the rest.The best companies have minimized wasted time and keptemployees focused; the rest have not.Companies that were already collaborating effectively and working productively before the pandemichave remained productive during lockdowns and other disruptions. Stay-at-home orders liberatedtime previously spent commuting and created flexibility in work schedules, enabling manyemployees to devote additional time to their jobs. One recent study conducted by Raffaella Sadun,Jeffrey Polzer and others, which included an analysis of emails and meetings for 3.1 million people in16 global cities, found that the length of the average workday increased by 48.5 minutes duringlockdown in the early weeks of the pandemic. In highly productive organizations, employees havecapitalized on new technologies to stay connected with customers and coworkers during this time.We estimate that the best organizations have seen productive time increase by 5% or more.For companies that struggled to collaborate productively before the pandemic, work-from-homeorders only made matters worse. To begin with, the time consumed in virtual meetings exploded.Researchers at Harvard Business School and New York University found that the number of meetingsCOPYRIGHT © 2020 HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL PUBLISHING CORPORATION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 3increased during the pandemic by 12.9%, on average, and the number of attendees per meeting grewby 13.5%. While the average length of meetings declined, the total time consumed by meetingsincreased substantially. Sadly, for most organizations, this investment of additional time yieldedvery little. The Harvard Business School and New York University data is consistent with what wehave observed at many companies: Poor collaboration and inefficient work practices have reducedproductive time by 2% to 3% for most organizations.The best have capitalized on changing work patterns to accessdifference-making talent.Exceptional talent ― people with the ability to bring creativity and ingenuity to their work ― is ascarce and valuable resource. Our research suggests that the best companies are 20% moreproductive than the rest due to the way they acquire, develop, team, and lead scarce, differencemaking talent.The pandemic has had both positive and negative impacts on talent as a source of productivity.Remote work has created opportunities for organizations to access talent that may have been out ofreach prior to Covid-19. Physical proximity to work is no longer a primary factor in determining thepool of available labor for most companies. Software development or big data analytics can be doneas effectively from Cedar Rapids as from San Jose. The best companies are capitalizing on new anddifferent sources of talent to build the capabilities they will need to win in the future.Remote work has also enabled an organization’s most skilled workers to engage virtually in a broaderrange of initiatives and teams than they could physically — multiplying the influence theseindividuals have on performance. For the best companies, we estimate that Covid-19 may have had asmall positive impact on productivity.Most companies have struggled to tread water during the pandemic. A dearth of demand for productsand services has kept them out of the labor market, unable to capitalize on opportunities to acquirenew talent. Meanwhile, their current employees have faced mounting pressures at home, as theyjuggle work and family. As a result, some organizations have seen many of their star performers leavethe workforce — at least temporarily — reducing overall productivity. We estimate that Covid-19 hashad a slight negative impact on most companies’ ability to attract, retain, and manage topperformers, leading to a slight decline in overall productivity.The best have found ways to engage and inspire their employees.Employee engagement and inspiration matter. According to our research, an engaged employee is45% more productive than a merely satisfied worker. And an inspired employee — one who has aprofound personal connection to their work and/or their company ― is 55% more productive than anengaged employee, or more than twice as productive as a satisfied worker. The better an organizationis engaging and inspiring its employees, the better its performance.COPYRIGHT © 2020 HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL PUBLISHING CORPORATION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 4Of the three productivity factors, Covid-19 has hit energy the hardest. Research by AchieversWorkforce Institute suggests that most organizations have struggled to engage their employeesduring the pandemic. Logically, then, productivity is likely to have fallen considerably for mostcompanies.Not every organization has seen employee energy levels decline. Executives from Adobe, forexample, have told us that they have found ways to keep people engaged throughout the pandemic.The company was one of the first anywhere to issue a “no lay-off pledge” — easing employeeconcerns and signaling the company’s unwavering commitment to its workforce. In March — justdays into shelter-in-place — senior leadership began conducting virtual town halls, from their homes,to keep employees informed about the spread of Covid-19 and Adobe’s response. Shortly thereafter,the company launched a weekly video series called “Take Five” to help its employees keep abreast ofimportant Covid-19 and business updates, along with tips from fellow employees (e.g., chef’s fromthe company’s cafeteria shared ideas for how to cook great meals with canned goods on hand).As Covid-19 and work-from-home orders persisted, regular pulse-check surveys revealed thatemployees were growing tired, balancing the new realities of work and home. In response, Adobegave all employees an extra day off — the third Friday of each month — to unplug and recharge. Thecombination of these — and many other — efforts has enabled Adobe to tap into the discretionaryenergy of its workforce during Covid-19. In fact, engagement scores at Adobe, according to thecompany, have actually increased since the beginning of the pandemic.***The productivity gap between the best and the rest has widened during the pandemic. We estimatethat the best companies — those that were already effective in managing the time, talent, and energyof their teams — have grown 5% to 8% more productive over the last 12 months. Additional worktime, access to new star talent and continued engagement have bolstered productivity at thesecompanies. Most organizations, however, have experienced a net reduction in productivity of 3% to6% (or more) due to inefficient collaboration, wasteful ways of working, and an overall decline inemployee engagement.The impact of this widening gap is significant. If the best were 40% more productive than the restbefore the pandemic (as our research suggested back in 2017), then they may be greater than 50%more productive now. This boost should enable these organizations to out-team, out-innovate,outgrow, and outperform their competitors for many years.Eric Garton is a partner in Bain & Company’s Chicago office and leader of the firm’s Global Organization practice. He iscoauthor of Time, Talent, Energy: Overcome Organizational Drag and Unleash Your Team’s Productive Power (HBR Press,March 2017).COPYRIGHT © 2020 HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL PUBLISHING CORPORATION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 5Michael Mankins is a partner in Bain & Company’s San Francisco office and a leader in the firm’s Organization practice.He is a coauthor of Time, Talent, Energy: Overcome Organizational Drag and Unleash Your Team’s Productive Power(Harvard Business Review Press, 2017).COPYRIGHT © 2020 HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL PUBLISHING CORPORATION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 6Copyright 2020 Harvard Business Publishing. All Rights Reserved. Additional restrictionsmay apply including the use of this content as assigned course material. Please consult yourinstitution’s librarian about any restrictions that might apply under the license with yourinstitution. For more information and teaching resources from Harvard Business Publishingincluding Harvard Business School Cases, eLearning products, and business simulationsplease visit hbsp.harvard.edu.

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