Posted: 16 Apr. 2021 10 min. read

The new frontier of productivity in Tech, Media, and Telecom

Motivating, Measuring, and Managing the Distributed Workforce

In March 2021, Deloitte brought together executive leaders from 11 Technology, Media, and Telecommunications (TMT) companies for Part Three of the Future of the Workplace Crowdsourcing Series to share their perspectives on workplace flexibility and employee productivity. We found that:

  • Productivity gains in the remote environment may not be sustainable due to the impact on employee well-being as a result of increased workload, longer workdays, and more meetings.
  • Redefining work is a priority for organizations, but there is a gap between how success and outputs are valued and measured.
  • As the COVID-19 vaccine continues to become available, the distributed workforce of the hybrid model will continue to present challenges for managers including measuring productivity and supporting collaboration and community.
The pandemic realities on productivity and well-being 

One year into the pandemic, organizations agree (75%) that the virtual environment has positively impacted productivity; however, these newfound productivity gains have come at a cost. Data shows that these productivity spikes could be due to employees working more hours. Although the average duration of a single meeting has decreased, the total number of meetings overall and the average workday has significantly increased. In fact, one recent study cited by Harvard Business Review found that the length of the average workday increased by 48.5 minutes during the lockdown at the beginning of the pandemic. With the average workday increasing to greater than 10 hours (0% of organizations said this was the case pre-pandemic), it is no wonder employees consider themselves to be more “productive.”

Despite organizational efforts to promote well-being in the remote environment through official well-being breaks, protected offline hours, and even company-wide events, well-being is still a top concern among employees and managers. According to an article by Microsoft WorkLab, out of a study of more than 30,000 employees, 54% feel overworked, 39% feel exhausted, and more than 40% of the global workforce is considering leaving their current employer this year. If organizations want to attract, sustain, and develop their talent, they must prioritize the well-being of their digitally exhausted workforce. As only 10% of organizations are expecting 90 to 100% of their workforce to return to the office in a post-pandemic future, it is imperative for organizations to reimagine the way productivity is defined and measured in order to sustain virtual ways of working.

Key Takeaway on Workforce Efficiency: As organizations redefine work in a hybrid environment, they must find ways of connecting worker well-being to work transformation.

Finding new ways to measure productivity instead of rewarding outputs 

There is consensus across the 11 TMT leaders included in this virtual focus group: redefining work and providing the tools needed to do this work is a top priority in a virtual or hybrid workforce. In fact, 100% of the participants stated that “redefining how work gets done is imperative to improving productivity.”

The question that remains is: how should companies be measuring success in a hybrid environment? Where there is an agreement in what productivity is (90% agreed that the definition of productivity is outcomes and work products completed), there were a variety of responses when asked the question “what tools/mechanism is your organization using to measure productivity?” Some use digital tools to measure productivity, such as emails sent, collaboration tools’ tracking, number of meetings held, etc. Others are leaning toward employee sentiments such as engagement surveys and workplace health, and finally, some participants reported that measuring productivity has not changed at all and is purely based on organizational goals such as revenue and margins. According to an article by CNBC, Google has measured pandemic productivity through “a lot of “pulse surveys” to see what’s important to employees and allowing them to assess their own productivity.”

Organizations agree that “work completed” can be the definition of productivity, however, they must consider outcomes instead of outputs. Technology is a key enabler to this. We call this “superteams”—a term used to describe the combination of people and technology leveraging their complementary capabilities to pursue outcomes at a speed and scale not otherwise possible, or in this case, allows employees to redeploy their time.

Key Takeaway on Workforce Effectiveness: As organizations rethink work “success” in a hybrid environment, they should consider factors beyond quantitative outputs and how technology can support employee productivity.

Preparing for the post-pandemic shift, hybrid work is here to stay 

The pandemic-induced virtual environment has pushed organizations to reevaluate their physical office presence. Now, the course is clear: companies are preparing for the hybrid model. According to the results of our virtual crowdsourcing session, at least 25% of leaders expect their workforce to remain permanently remote and as stated earlier, more than 90% of the participants expect to be in some form of a hybrid environment.

Unfortunately, the virtual environment continues to have large impacts on managers and virtual teams. Only 20% of participants believe their managers are equipped to measure productivity in a virtual environment. Managers are now responsible for much more than work progress, they are responsible for their employees’ social capital and access.

Across all of these challenges stemming from remote work, 85% of leaders say that their biggest challenge in managing a remote/hybrid office workforce is maintaining company culture and working collaboratively across teams. Employees are being deprived of organic, cross-functional collaboration and larger networks due to remote work. A recent report by Microsoft concluded that “anonymized collaboration trends between billions of Outlook emails and Microsoft Teams meetings reveal a clear trend: the shift to remote shrunk our networks.”

If 41% of employees are considering leaving their current employer this year—how will you stand above the rest?

Key Takeaway on Workforce Empowerment: As companies build talent programs to accommodate a distributed workforce, they need to prioritize employee connectedness and culture in order to sustain a motivated workforce.

Stay in touch! Sign up for TMT Remote Work Crowdsourcing Session #4

Throughout the next year, we will continue to host virtual crowdsourcing sessions with leaders in the TMT industry to share insights that help your organizations develop strategies as the environment evolves. If you are an executive interested in participating in this research, sign up here.


Dana Swanson Switzer is a Principal in Deloitte’s Human Capital practice, helping digital companies maintain their competitive advantage at scale via the power of the workforce.

Laura Shact is a Senior Manager in Deloitte's Human Capital Consulting practice with over 15 years of consulting experience helping companies align talent strategy to the Future of Work.

Christine Nguyen is a Senior Consultant in Deloitte's Organization Transformation practice, focusing on organizational strategies, workforce strategies, and change management.

Sara Dick is a Consultant in Deloitte's Human Capital practice, supporting Future of Work for Workforce Transformation.

Jordyn Schwartz is a Business Analyst in Deloitte's Human Capital practice, with experience in change management, leadership development, Future of Work, and diversity and inclusion.

Karim Pradhan is a Business Analyst in Deloitte's Human Capital practice, with experience in workforce strategies, change management, and diversity and inclusion.

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Dana Swanson Switzer

Dana Swanson Switzer

Principal | Human Capital

Dana is a principal in Deloitte’s Human Capital practice, helping digital companies maintain their competitive advantage at scale via the power of the workforce. With a focus on organizational development and talent and workforce strategies, Dana partners with senior business leaders at global companies to design, and rollout Future of Work strategies as they redefine their value proposition to the business and take advantage of technology and people disruptions in the market to differentiate in the industry.