Microsoft has fresh remote work research on the loose by way of its new study, entitled “The effects of remote work on collaboration among information workers.” This study highlights the potential drawbacks of remote work.
The data used to formulate the study’s conclusions is extensive. “Here, we use 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 to estimate the causal effects of firm-wide remote work on collaboration and communication,” the abstract says, showcasing how much information has gone into the results.
As for said results, they paint a negative picture of the effects of remote work with regards to communication and collaboration. Cross-group collaboration decreased by nearly 25% (compared to on-site work), with teams becoming more sequestered and siloed. Furthermore, Microsoft cited a decrease in dynamic organizational structure, with new collaborators being rarer additions and existing collaborators not being shed at pre-pandemic rates.
While connections within existing teams grew stronger as a result of remote work becoming a major part of Microsoft’s operations, the study’s overall findings indicate that innovation and productivity may be stifled by the shift. However, the study is also fully aware that hard data regarding remote work’s impact could take years to materialize and that companies may yet find means to ensure remote work results fit pre-pandemic expectations.
This study is what some may describe as a far cry from Microsoft’s other recent data share on remote work, which was lambasted as a self-congratulatory reiteration of common knowledge.
If you’re interested in learning about other Microsoft studies, read up on the time the company used research to confirm that workers need breaks.
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