Nov 14
Woman in front of her laptop, appearing worried and paranoid.

Why Productivity Paranoia is Counterproductive: 5 Ways to Escape It

Are you handling a remote team? Worried that your employees are not productive at home? Well, you’re not alone.

Microsoft surveyed 20,000 people in 11 countries. They found out that 87% of employees see themselves as highly productive when working from home. But only 12% of the CEO’s agree. 

Basically, your employees think that they’re delivering the best value given the set-up. But you think otherwise. Hence, the significant disconnect. 

Most bosses experience productivity paranoia. And it’s hurting most fully remote or hybrid teams. 

Let’s take a look.



What’s Productivity Paranoia?

Basically, productivity paranoia is the fear that employees aren’t working -despite evidence to the contrary, such as an increase in the number of hours worked and growing output.

Where is this coming from?

CEO’s and upper management are under a lot of pressure, especially these past years. The pandemic crippled even the strongest companies in most industries. 

Right now, CEOs are facing economic downturns, rampant inflation, and supply problems. Not to mention, most companies are new to the hybrid or remote setup. There’s even a war going on! 

With all the uncertainty, how do you keep up? And are your employees even working to their full potential? Or are they just wasting the company’s tight budget doing nothing?

That’s why most CEO’s develop productivity paranoia.



Why is Productivity Paranoia Counterproductive?

There is countless evidence that the future of work lies in a hybrid set-up. But productivity paranoia can make things needlessly difficult. 

Those with productivity paranoia tend to distrust and micromanage. And if you’re too strict and controlling, we know what can happen. 

The great resignation has already started. And retention hinges on how well -employers treat their staff especially in a hybrid setup. You don’t want to further hurt your bottom line with your paranoid mindset.

The good news is that you can pivot to a more productive mindset! Here are 5 tips on how to escape productivity paranoia. 


Use Time Trackers for Accountability, Not For Surveillance

Use Time Trackers for Accountability, Not For Surveillance

Many companies use time trackers to monitor productivity. It’s a helpful tool to check if your employees are productive at a glance.

The truth is many employees hate being watched. That’s why time trackers are a deal-breaker for a lot of remote rock stars. 

Some managers use it to nitpick an employee’s actions. S/he was idle for 5 minutes. They opened Facebook. The mouse is not moving for x number of minutes. Doesn’t it all sound constricting? 

With this, your employees will be more unproductive and might even resort to productivity theatre, an even bigger productivity threat caused by micromanaging culture.

Instead of using time trackers to micromanage, use them to foster accountability instead. Analyse the captured data and compare it to the output. 

If the resulting work is subpar, then that’s the time for corrective action. 

This way, your employees can see the time trackers as something that provides proof of work rather than something to be scared of.



Set Clear and Attainable Goals and KPIs

Every employee has a role to fulfill. But are they clear on the output you expect them to deliver? 

If the answer is “no,” how can they deliver if they don’t know what you want? 

Thus, you should set clear goals and KPIs. 

If you have writers, how many articles do they need to produce? For telemarketers, how many calls do they need to make on the daily? 

Setting clear and attainable goals and KPIs will help manage you and your employee’s expectations for better productivity. 



Output-Based Metrics

Now that you set clear goals and KPIs, focus on productivity. Did you hire your employee to move their mouse so that the trackers won’t register idleness? No. 

But because of higher management’s distrust, a lot of employees are fixating on things like this. And this kind of culture won’t help your company grow in the long run.

You hired them for their talent and the output they can produce, so use that as a basis for productivity instead. 



Schedule Stand-Up Meetings

These are meetings where each member of the team talks about what they did and what help they need to finish some pending tasks.

It’s pretty simple but very effective. It also fosters teamwork and accountability in the team. No one wants to say, “I didn’t accomplish anything meaningful today,” and your employees can ask for or offer help when they have difficult tasks. 


Reward Strong Performance

A lot of traditional managers operate on instilling fear. But is it really effective? At first, your employees might get motivated out of the fear of getting punished. But negative motivation is not sustainable.

If you want a solid team motivated to work beyond what is required, you should start by rewarding strong performance.

Create goals for your teams and then reward them when they hit these, either through recognition or monetary rewards. 



Productivity paranoia is definitely counterproductive to a growing team. If you follow the tips above, you can escape this mindset. And take your team -and your business- to the next level.

Want to hire remote workers? 

For 15 years and counting, Remote Staff has matched countless AU entrepreneurs and SME’s with the right Filipino remote workers that helped them grow their businesses faster and more sustainably. 

You can view our candidates for pre-qualified Filipino remote workers you can trust. 

Call us or schedule a callback for inquiries. Cheers!


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Leandro is a content creator and digital nomad who started his career as a remote working content writer. He is an advocate of location independent sources of income. And he believes that everyone has the ability to be one as well. If you have any content requests and suggestions, feel free to email him at

About The Author

Leandro is a content creator and digital nomad who started his career as a remote working content writer. He is an advocate of location independent sources of income. And he believes that everyone has the ability to be one as well. If you have any content requests and suggestions, feel free to email him at

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