Every employee probably knows the difference between productive work and what a new report by software company Slack calls performative work – merely looking but not actually being busy. The data in the release shows that workers in some Asian countries – namely India, Japan and Singapore – seem to spend more time appearing to be working than employees in other places.
While Indians spent 43 percent of time in performative work, that number was 37 and 36 percent in Japan and Singapore, respectively. For comparison, U.S. respondents and those from Germany said they only appeared busy for 28 and 29 percent of the time. One outlier in Asia was South Korea, also with a low of 28 percent of work hours spent in “pretend mode”.
South Korea and Japan – for which OECD data exist – can be found at opposing ends of the productivity spectrum. South Korean productivity (measured in GDP per hour worked) increased by more than 28 percent, one of the best results among countries surveyed. Japan’s productivity gains meanwhile were much lower, increasing only by 8.7 percent in ten years. However, the United States scored a similar result despite having a low relative share of performative work. This shows that several more factors, for example how mature an economy is, influence productivity increases.