Work from home arrangements are here to stay for the foreseeable future, but this model of operating is not so cut and dry.
While research has shown that there are numerous benefits to allowing employees to work from home, there is also an indication of a grimmer side.
In order to identify exactly which factors alter the work from home experience for employees, Microsoft conducted an experiment to have a deeper understanding of remote work’s effect on collaboration and communication.
Researchers compared Microsoft employees who worked from home prior to the pandemic to those who were suddenly forced to shift to this work arrangement.
Taking nearly 62,000 employees’ anonymized emails, calendars, instant messages, and work hours between December 2019 and June 2020, the results found that working remotely weakened collaboration and communication.
So what can employers do to ensure that this does not become a persistent problem in the future?
For starters, leaders need to navigate how to create those spontaneous in-person interactions that have been tied to innovation and creativity.
Because virtual meetings make this increasingly difficult, researchers at Harvard Business School suggest hosting synchronous “virtual water cooler” events that allow employees to informally interact with one another.