On Labor Day, I review the findings from a study published last year from Yang et al. (2021) titled “The effects of remote work on collaboration among information workers“. The study examined data on more than 60,000 workers at Microsoft and found that:
Our results show that firm-wide remote work caused the collaboration network of workers to become more static and siloed, with fewer bridges between disparate parts. Furthermore, there was a decrease in synchronous communication and an increase in asynchronous communication. Together, these effects may make it harder for employees to acquire and share new information across the network.
Connections to your immediate peers works great with remote work but the causal, idiosyncratic relationships that span departments are more difficult with remote work. In the short-run remote work is more efficient, but getting organizational leaders to share information across departments is a key challenge remote work environments face.