8 Productivity Myths in the Workplace

For business organizations to thrive in a highly competitive environment, productivity is a key factor. There is so much information in management literature on how to motivate employees to maximize productivity. Sorting out what works and what does not work, what is real and what is myth, can be a time-consuming task.
Below are eight practices we believe can step-up productivity when in fact they are drawbacks.

1. Micro-management ensures that employees are performing their assigned tasks, hence productive.


To micro-manage according to Webster is “to manage especially with excessive control or attention to details.” Micro-managers undermine the competency of employees. They think employees are unable to handle tasks on their own.

Micro-management may be advantageous when employees are underperforming or when training new employees but these are short-term situations. Studies show that micro-management has a toxic effect. It leads to low employee morale and decreased productivity.

2. Working beyond the 8-hour period increases productivity.

“More working time equals more output” is another common belief. Mandatory overtime – sometimes without pay – and tight deadlines are imposed. Work is the first priority among all other priorities. Consequently, maintaining work–life balance is almost impossible. This means quality time with family are put aside.
Studies, however, reveal that working 55 hours in a week negatively impacts productivity.

3. Money is a stronger motivator than achievement recognition.

It seems right to think that money is the best motivator. Who does not money anyway? Studies however, show that money or promotion is not as powerful as recognition. Everyone would rather be appreciated for a work well done.

4. Remote employees are less engaged than those working in the office.

Many employers tend to think that workers should be monitored closely otherwise their output would only be minimal. This line of thought is contradicted by what Ctrip, a travel website in China found: home-based call center workers made 13.5% more calls than those working in the office. This proves that working in the office does not necessarily result in higher productivity.

5. Multi-tasking is better than focusing on one task at a time.

Multi-tasking is not an ideal recipe for an excellent performance. Multi-tasking really means quickly switching from one work to another. It can be detrimental for the brain and work performance. Frequent switching from task to another task, especially if both are complex task, can overload our brain.

6. Break time is a waste of time.

It is a mistake to think that break time is a waste of time and that it cuts out productivity. A study has shown that individuals performing a task even for an hour had lower productivity than those who had two short breaks.

7. Workplace conflicts are detrimental to productivity and efficiency.

Is conflict a negative force in the workplace? Studies have categorized conflict into relationship conflicts and task conflicts. While relationship conflict is detrimental, work conflicts, properly managed, have positive outcomes. This conclusion is supported by a study of conflict in the Canadian workplace which cited that “better solutions to problems and challenges (57%), major innovations (21%), increased motivation (31%), a better understanding of others (77%), and higher work team performance (40%). When properly managed conflict has positive outcomes.

8. Social media in the workplace negatively affects productivity.

Today’s communication system is dominated by smartphones, tablets, laptops, and PCs. Keeping in touch and interacting with people all over the world can be done in seconds. Some managers fear that the use of social media in the workplace can divert the attention of employees and thus lessens productivity.
The use of social media in the workplace has its advantages and disadvantages. Studies reveal that with effective policies in place the use of social media can boost productivity. Among its advantages are:

  • facilitates communication
  • fosters exchange of ideas
  • breaks down organization silos

About the Author:

I love to travel and most of the time- a solo backpacker. I’m adapting a minimalist approach – “only buying things if needed”. I won’t regret not buying expensive things, but surely I will regret not traveling to the places I always wanted to see.