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14 September 2021
What Microsoft, creator of Teams, learned from lockdown
Information technologyTalent, skills, HR
Teams collaborate and communicate less in a remote workplace, according to new Microsoft research published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour.
Why it matters
Even in societies with wide availability of vaccinations and high take-up, plans to return to offices are being put on hold. While recreating virtually what makes an office socially interesting is extremely difficult, information on how to react can equip organisations with some tools about how to counteract WFH’s limitations.
Using rich data on the emails, calendars, instant messages, video/audio calls and workweek hours of 61,182 US Microsoft employees over the first six months of 2020 the study estimates the causal effects of firm-wide remote work on collaboration and communication.
Collaboration networks between workers and departments become more static and siloed with fewer bridges between disparate parts.
Synchronous communication (through voice or video calls) has decreased, meaning people are using messaging software more with the potential to diminish the communication of complex technical or social information.
Even under a hybrid system, with some workers in the office and others at home, the effects remain.
“Without intervention, the effects we discovered have the potential to impact workers’ ability to acquire and share new information across groups, and as a result, affect productivity and innovation. In light of these findings, companies should be thoughtful about if and how they choose to adopt long-term work-from-home policies” – Microsoft.