A Microsoft study examining the use of technology by its employees has revealed deficits in cross-company communication, and sparked a lively discussion about the long-term impact of remote working on collaboration, productivity and innovation.
But the peer-reviewed study, Published last week in the journal Nature Human Behavior.
However, the researchers say that does not necessarily mean that employees are working more hours within the duration of that long work week.
He explains, “An increase in the hours of the work week could be a sign that employees were less productive and needed more time to complete their work, or that they took some of their commuting time to work. changed by time; however, as we are only able to measure the time between the first and last work activity in a day, it may also be that the same amount of work time spans a large portion of the calendar day for non-working hours. Extends due to break or interruption of after-work activities.”
Here’s how they calculated the hours of the work week, according to the study: “Between a person’s first sent email or IM, a scheduled meeting or Microsoft Teams video/audio call, and the last sent email or IM The sum of every day in the work week, scheduled meeting or Microsoft Teams video/audio call. A day is part of the work week if it is a ‘work day’ for an employee based on their work calendar.”
Microsoft’s study analyzing the technology use of more than 61,000 employees was Released by Microsoft and LinkedIn as part of a broader look at the future of work.
The findings have attracted widespread attention and analysis as companies and workers grapple with the implications of remote work – expanded by the COVID-19 delta version – and make future plans for returning to the office or setting up hybrid workplaces.
A massive Microsoft study adds to a growing picture of a sudden shift to remote work: The problem isn’t with existing work and teams; This is the future of organizations. People stop forming new bonds and become more silent. Bad for innovation and career. https://t.co/pfHzqYo9Ub pic.twitter.com/JqfTbESn66
— Ethan Molick (@emollick) September 10, 2021
Here are the key findings in a nutshell In a Microsoft Research blog post.
- [T]That shifted to remote work, making formal business groups and informal communities less interconnected and more muted within Microsoft.
- The share of collaboration time employees spent with cross-group connections due to remote work fell to about 25% of pre-pandemic levels.
- In addition, firm-wide remote work made individual groups more interconnected by adding more connections within themselves.
- Changes to remote work made the organizational structure less dynamic at Microsoft; Microsoft employees added fewer new collaborators and left fewer existing ones.
But this sentiment of the Nature Human Behavior article is getting much scrutiny: “We expect the effects we see on workers’ collaboration and communication patterns to impact productivity and, long-term, innovation.”
In a detailed Twitter thread, Steven Sinofsky, a technology investor and consultant, and former president of Microsoft Windows, cautioned against linking communication with collaboration, or drawing conclusions about the potential impact of changes in communication on productivity and innovation.
3/ I have no doubt that this research accurately captures the flow of information for over 60 thousand people around the company using digital tools. This is a huge amount of work and analysis. Appreciation. The challenge from the start is that it links that flow to “collaboration”.
— Steven Sinofsky (@stevesi) September 14, 2021
Overall, Microsoft researchers argue that it is too early to fully assess the long-term impact of remote working, and companies attempting to set long-term policies now may face unintended consequences down the road.
In many cases, they write in the journal article, “firms are deciding to adopt permanent remote work policies based only on short-term data.”