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People over metrics: How we shake off the paranoia over productivity

February 20, 20233 min read

*This article was first published in Frederic Joye’s LinkedIn newsletter, Culture-Focused Outsourcing*.

Years after the massive shift to remote work, many managers still question the productivity of their remote teams. In fact, according to a survey by Microsoft, only 12% of leaders have full confidence in their team's productivity while working from home. On the other hand, 87% of employees report being just as productive, if not more, than when working in an office setting.

At Arcanys, our internal stats show a different picture: our clients still hold a favorable view towards working from home, finding their dedicated remote teams to be just as efficient and engaged.

Some managers simply don't trust their remote workers and feel the need to monitor their activities.

They worry about accountability and effort, but constant monitoring can actually erode trust and lead to micromanagement and decreased job satisfaction among remote workers.

It undermines the benefits of remote work and creates a toxic work environment that stifles creativity and innovation.

But, like it or not, remote work is here to stay, and leaders must find ways to trust their teams' productivity. A long-term hybrid arrangement is desired by most, seen as a right, not just a perk.

At Arcanys, we believe that focusing on core values and taking the following steps has helped us create a positive and productive remote work environment over the years:

Provide autonomy

We’ve always given people the freedom to manage their own time and work in a way that personally suits them, within the bounds of the expectations and goals set. 

This led us to retain a flexible schedule to allow employees to make the decision to come in to work at a time they feel is most conducive.

Foster open communication and open your “doors”

Encourage regular check-ins, either one-on-one or as a team, to promote open and honest communication and build trust. 

We also have an open-door (or open-Slack) policy to ensure everyone feels empowered to raise any thoughts or concerns directly to our leaders and prevent gatekeeping of information.

Adopt asynchronous communication

Our company has a history of flexible scheduling and distributed collaborations with our clients, and as a result, we have fully embraced asynchronous communication as our primary mode of communication. 

Communicating async shouldn't hinder progress. It should simply allow a wider time frame (and time zones) than what a real-time meeting can offer.

We’ve also found that asynchronous collaboration allows for more written communication, which can reduce misunderstandings, improve documentation, and facilitate decision-making.

Provide training and support

To build trust with remote employees, it is vital to provide them with the necessary tools, resources, and training. 

Arcanys offers paid weekend training and has added additional benefits to support remote work, such as allowances for home office furniture, equipment, internet access, electricity fees, etc. These measures aim to enhance the remote work experience and make it as enjoyable as possible.

Encourage breaks and wellness routines

Ensuring people take breaks, make room for fun and personal development, and adopt stress-reducing activities is crucial for enhancing overall efficiency and happiness.

So, aside from the typical online team dinners and games, we also offer various perks such as paid gym memberships or sports equipment (up to $40/month) and compensation for working out (through logs in our internal app). Some clients have taken it a step further by implementing additional wellness initiatives.

Ultimately, productivity is not the point.

As the founders of Basecamp suggest, “When people focus on productivity, they end up focusing on being busy.” They lose sight of the big picture.

This whole hustle culture sends the wrong message. Being busy doesn't equate to importance or usefulness—it's better to focus on projects that truly move the needle and make a difference.

So instead of monitoring hours worked or time spent on specific tasks, we focus on the achieved outcomes and results and how that ultimately impacts our clients.

Leaders, how have you experienced the disconnect with your remote workers, and what steps have you taken to reinforce trust and productivity in your remote team?

Frederic Joye

Frederic Joye

Arcanys co-founder

Frederic Joye

Arcanys co-founder

Fred had been working on IT and operational projects in the finance and software industry in Switzerland for 10 years before co-founding Arcanys in 2010. With nearly 20 years of experience in the industry in Switzerland, Hong Kong, and the Philippines, Fred is now leading the worldwide sales and marketing efforts of Arcanys.

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