A Microsoft study examining employee technology usage showed that cross-company communication has decreased and sparked heated discussions about the long-term impact of remote work on collaboration, productivity, and innovation.
But peer-reviewed research, Published last week in the journal Natural Human Behavior, Including another notable finding, it may also resonate beyond Microsoft’s virtual wall: After moving to remote work, the average weekly working hours within the company increased by about 10%.
However, the researchers said, this does not necessarily mean that employees work longer in a longer work week.
They explained: “The increase in working hours per week may indicate that employees are less efficient and need more time to complete their work, or they use working hours to replace part of their commuting time; however, because we can only measure the first time of the day The time between the last work activity and the last work activity, so the same work time may also be scattered in a larger share of the calendar day due to non-staff breaks or interruptions.-Work activities.”
According to this study, they calculated the weekly working hours as follows: “The time between when a person sends an email or IM, scheduled a meeting or a Microsoft Teams video/audio call, and the last email or IM is at work The sum of the days of the week, scheduled meetings, or Microsoft Teams video/audio calls. If a day is a “working day” for a given employee based on the work calendar, then a day is part of the work week.”
Microsoft’s research analyzed the technology usage of its more than 61,000 employees, Published as part of a broader vision of the future work of Microsoft and LinkedIn.
As many companies and employees struggle to cope with long hours of remote work and make plans for returning to the office or navigating in mixed workplaces in the future, these findings have attracted widespread attention and analysis.
A large Microsoft study adds to the growing picture of the sudden shift to remote work: the problem is not with existing jobs and teams; it is the future of the organization. People no longer create new bonds and become more isolated. Not conducive to innovation and career. https://t.co/pfHzqYo9Ub pic.twitter.com/JqfTbESn66
— Ethan Molik (@emollick) September 10, 2021
The following are the main findings summarized In a Microsoft Research blog post.
- Overall, we found that the shift to remote work has caused the formal business groups and informal communities within Microsoft to become less interconnected and more isolated.
- Remote work has led to a drop in the share of collaboration time employees spend on cross-group connections by about 25% of pre-pandemic levels.
- In addition, company-wide remote work has caused different groups to become more internally connected by adding more connections internally.
- The shift to remote work has also caused Microsoft’s organizational structure to become less dynamic. Microsoft employees added fewer new collaborators and fewer existing collaborators.
However, this view from the Nature Human Behavior article has received a lot of scrutiny: “We expect that the impact we have observed on employee collaboration and communication patterns will affect productivity and, in the long run, will also affect innovation.”
In a detailed Twitter thread, Steven Sinofsky, a technology investor and consultant and former Microsoft Windows president, cautioned against equating communication with collaboration or drawing conclusions about its potential impact on productivity and innovation.
3/ I have no doubt that this study accurately captured the information flow of more than 60,000 people around the company using digital tools. This is a lot of work and analysis. honor. The challenge from the beginning was to confuse flow with “collaboration.”
— Steven Sinofsky (@stevesi) September 14, 2021
Overall, Microsoft researchers believe that it is too early to fully assess the long-term impact of remote work, and companies that are now trying to formulate long-term policies may face unexpected consequences in the future.
In many cases, they wrote in a journal article, “The company is deciding to adopt a permanent remote work policy based only on short-term data.”