"The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place." – George Bernard Shaw
In November 2020 I wrote about how important social interaction is to innovation.
Ten months later, it was interesting to read a Nature article that reported on a study of the impact of remote working on employees at Microsoft. The article noted that many organisations were (in 2021) deciding to adopt remote working based only on short term data and predicted that organisations that followed that path might put themselves at a disadvantage. Specifically, it noted that remote work caused the organisation to become more siloed with connections between silos reduced and that instead of replacing face-to-face communication with audio or video calls people often resorted to asynchronous communication such as email. It concluded that this could make it more difficult for employees to acquire and share information, and significantly more difficult to collaborate and discuss complex information – which I believe is necessary for innovation.
There is now a growing body of evidence that remote working makes organisations apparently more productive (which is great for the short term) but less innovative (a problem if you would like to be around in the long term).
As organisations and as society, we need to think very carefully, and see much more data, before we embrace remote working as a long-term solution.
Yang, L., Holtz, D., Jaffe, S., Suri, S., Sinha, S., Weston, J., Joyce, C., Shah, N., Sherman, K., Hecht, B., & Teevan, J. (2021, September 9). The Effects of Remote Work on Collaboration Among Information Workers. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-021-01196-4.pdf
© 2021 J M Clegg Ltd.
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