Reviews | It’s no secret why workers are less productive


Regarding the press article of November 1 “Falling productivity puzzles employers”:

I can hazard a few guesses. Companies discovered during the Great Recession that they could cut staff dramatically and force people to take over out of desperation to keep their jobs. Companies decided they liked to save money and never completely replaced these positions, even after the economy improved. There is a finite point beyond which workers simply cannot continue to produce at the same level while being given more tasks.

Wages continue to stagnate as corporate profits and the cost of living soar. Few people now get cost-of-living raises, let alone merit raises. We discovered during the pandemic that not only did our employers not care whether we lived or died, but also that the government could not be counted on to respond quickly or provide a meaningful safety net for people who had to choose between risking their health and paying their rent.

The pandemic isn’t even over, but many employers are demanding that workers return to the physical office, citing nebulous ideas about togetherness and cohesion.

What do workers want? A job they can quit after eight hours that pays the bills with enough left over for health care, a few treats, and the occasional vacation.

As long as the media continues to repeat corporate arguments, workers will continue to burn out, “quietly quit” and drop out of the workforce. The resulting loss of “productivity” will no doubt continue to amaze writers and bosses alike.

Catherine McCubbin, Towson

I am puzzled as to why employers are puzzled by the drop in productivity they are seeing with many employees working from home more than two years into the pandemic. Humans are social animals. In my experience, face-to-face communication is much richer and more effective than written or telephone communication. It promotes brainstorming and collaboration.

In the 1990s, I moved from a company in which employees worked in the same building or the same locality to one in which employees generally worked with employees in other states. I found myself “telecommuting” from the office. Eventually, I started telecommuting from home. Although I appreciated the convenience of this arrangement, I found it far less stimulating. It may not be a coincidence that the most successful marketing campaigns were developed years earlier in company history, when employees worked together in the office.

Leslie K. Downey, Washington

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