Leave Productivity to Economists

Lots of headlines today about a feature called Productivity Score that is part of Microsoft Office 365. The service promises to help “organizations transform how work gets done with insights about how people use Microsoft 365 and the technology experiences that support them.

While on the face of it, Productivity Score does sound somewhat Orwellian, I think this is down to poor naming. What it really seems to be is a measure of how people use various Microsoft products. If it helps companies measure their ROI on Office 365 and respects privacy, then so be it. While it’s possible some gullible manager somewhere might equate software usage to productivity, I have faith that in most organisations this will not be the prevailing view. Productivity is all about efficiency of work produced, and is something that evening leading economists struggle to grapple with. Anyone who has spent more than 10 minutes in a modern workplace will tell you that simply having conference calls and creating Powerpoint presentations does not equate to being productive. Calls, emails, spreadsheets and whatever else Productivity Score measures are byproducts of productivity, not evidence of it.

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