New World of Work: Is employee productivity versus happiness a necessary trade off?

Are managers still measuring productivity by how long an employee is seen at their desk and in the office? The nature of doing business has changed in an increasingly competitive world, demanding employees to travel and produce more. The mangers of yesterday used to live by the mantra ‘out of sight, out of mind’. However, modern managers are increasingly valuing the need for their employees to be happier, healthier and to have a good work – life balance.


I have recently attended an event from CSR Europe called Health Literacy organized on the 27th of March in the European Parliament. The event’s main aim was to launch the first Blueprint for Business Action on Health Literacy, a tool for companies to promote health literacy and wellbeing at work, thus promoting a healthier lifestyle in Europe.

The event was hosted by MEP Karin Kadenbach (Member of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety) and MEP Jean Lambert (Member of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs) and gathered over 70 representatives from businesses and policy. The agenda focused on presenting the Blueprint, discussing how health literacy can make a difference and gathering good case practices from the partner companies.

Microsoft put forward its own vision we are implementing in our offices called New World of Work. Microsoft is changing the work environment across all its subsidiaries to improve the productivity of our employees by offering a great deal of flexibility and different tools that allow people to work from different locations, including home, creating the work-life balance that everyone longs for. We believe productivity is not impacted if employees have the option to work away from the office.

We commissioned a study in 15 European countries which explored the different attitudes towards flexible working among 1,500 employees. The survey revealed that despite the huge benefits of having flexibility for both the organisation and the employee, the majority of businesses do not adequately support their employees to work away from the office.

There are multiple benefits to be gained from a new way of working: for businesses both large and small it leads to increased productivity, as well as an improved ability to attract and retain the best talent. A greater flexibility for employees results in higher satisfaction and quality of life. This impacts the environment as well, by eliminating unnecessary traffic and thus reducing CO2 emissions. Indeed, recent studies show that 73% of workers in Europe think their lives would improve if they could work more flexibly, but less than a third of businesses provide guidelines on flexible work. Furthermore the research reveals that the larger the organization, the less likely it is that employees would be able to work flexibly. We are seeing the benefits for our own employees as Microsoft was recently awarded the Best Multinational Workplace in Europe 2012, the fifth year in a row we have taken the top spot, a great testament to how our employees view our workplace culture.

Read more about the event and the main outcomes here.

Check out the press release and the summary research report for further details on the key findings.

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