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Over the past year, the number of people working remotely in the US went from 5% before the pandemic to 37% in April 2020. 

This caused a substantial shift in the way we work and collaborate, moving from active conversation to asynchronous messaging. 

Naturally, people were curious about the effect of this major shift on the productivity of their employees. Hence, comes in the Microsoft study that set out to do just that. 

This study aimed to analyze the “rich data” from emails, calendars, instant messages, calls, and workweek hours to estimate the causal effect of remote work on collaboration and communication.

The clear verdict was that remote work had been a major damper on collaboration making communication “static” and “siloed”.

Quoting directly from the study - which you can find here - the report says,

“Our results show that the shift to firm-wide remote work caused business groups within Microsoft to become less interconnected. It also reduced the number of ties bridging structural holes in the company’s informal collaboration network, and caused individuals to spend less time collaborating with the bridging ties that remained”

The study raises the concern that remote work is not conducive for seamless collaboration, but writer John Kelly points out in this article that users should be skeptical about the implications of this study.

Firstly, this analysis was conducted in the early periods of the pandemic from December 2019 to June 2020. 

Considering the fact that both companies and employees were still adjusting to their new way of work. Along with the horrific amounts of COVID cases and general distress among the masses, no doubt employees were not able to collaborate effectively through the virtual medium.

Now that most organizations have successfully built a blueprint to tackle remote work and encourage communications, things are much better.

Therefore, it's better if employers don't take these implications at their face value and analyze their team based on parameters important to their business.

Tell us what you think about this Microsoft article down below in the comments section.



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    Well, the power of Remote work is that people can FOCUS on what matters in their job.

    They can be conscious/proactive about what things they undertake.

    Not being pulled into meetings / desk visits by department X.

    So I see it also a sign of a positive!

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      definitely an interesting study and i appreciate them getting the data out into the world. coming from a company that provides a short async video platform, i of course took issue with how they defined asynchronous communication as purely text messaging and emails. i think it makes the point that the tools/containers of the past will not always help us excel in the future / next wave.