Article Review: Mark Murphy “…Stop The Body-In-Seat Mentality”

The “body-in-seat” fallacy is one I’ve followed for well over a decade and COVID-19 may finally tip the scales. I’m talking about “… [The] insidious attitude permeating many companies; that when employees have their bodies-in-their-seats, it means they’re productive.”

Mark Murphy, the author of the article “When Your Employees Are Remote, You Have To Stop The Body-In-Seat Mentality“, puts this issue directly in the cross-hairs and explains exactly why it’s a problem.

“…[T]here’s much to be said for focusing on the results someone achieves rather than how long they sit in front of a computer. But when we’re operating with a body-in-seat mentality, we’re de facto telling people, ‘it’s not what you get done but how long you sit there that matters.'”

He further goes on to explain why top freelancers are more productive and how they do it. I highly recommend having a full read if productivity is of concern.

Body-In-Seat Mentality A Distraction

I often hear “yes but”. For many, it’s obvious that productivity and ability to work remotely all depends on the development level of the individual. The body-in-seat mentality is simply an inappropriate leadership response and distracts from addressing the needs of each individual.

And this is a problem best addressed separately from working remotely since it exists no matter what the setting. The Hersey-Blanchard model can shed some light on this and the leadership styles that need to be applied. The take-away though is that each individual needs varying levels of support and an organization needs to be able to supply this support. It’s important to note that the tools to address staff developmental support might change with remote work.

Body-In-Seat Mentality Blocking Productivity Gains

There is a large and growing body of research showing productivity gains with remote work. 

Reasearch by Adam Ozimek, chief economist at Upwork, shows that “32% of hiring managers say remote work has increased productivity“. Jory Mackay of RescueTime blog dives more into how exactly working remotely translates into productivity, which the reader can access here.

One issue exasperated by COVID-19 is technology issues.  Companies have not been ready to supply the technology and training required for staff to make the remote work switch. The NPR Podcast “The Indicator” speaks to Adam Ozimek about the future of work from home and you can listen to or read the transcript of the the episode here. The expectation though is that this is a temporary problem.

Preparing for Remote Working

Working remotely does not “just happen”. Preparing for it is critical. See my article “Preparing for Remote Working – During Coronavirus (covid-19) or Otherwise” for tips on where to start.

About the Author

Trevor Textor has worked in various roles requiring remote work since 1997. Since 2014 he’s been supporting small, medium and large businesses as a freelancer (contingent labor) with a “swiss-army knife”-like suite of skills. In addition to setting up policy, procedures and technology for himself and his partner he has also met this need with clients in enabling their remote work. Trevor has been quoted by Reader’s Digest, NBC News, and regarding setting up appropriate Internet and WiFi service for remote work. Ask Trevor if he can help: