Microsoft study claims working from home threatens productivity and innovation

waclark

Posts: 106   +66
Why is the default to assume "collaboration" is automatically equal to "productivity" though? It's not: some coordination is desirable but "collaboration" is a nice way of not saying "Authoritative, top down hierarchy enforcement" and "inter-department meddling"

There's a lot of tasks that just cannot be made to be more efficient by having multiple people intervene: at one point once your division of labor reaches the point at which a single individual is the most efficient at doing that particular chunk of work then that's the most efficient the task is going to get.

What this nonsense about "collaboration" really means is just inter-department politics: people being able to more efficiently breath down their co-worker and subordinate necks to get the task *they* need or are waiting for, done quicker. Doing things remotely and having to write an email puts things down on paper so they can't pretend they're not pressuring you to get what *you* need done when they do so more subtly by dropping by to say hi and "coordinate"

The fact that so many companies kept chugging along without skipping a beat is all the proof you need that most managers just get in the way of people doing their jobs.


Well, I don't think the article said that collaboration = productivity. If you read about the study, what they concluded is that collaboration leads to learning new things which translates into higher productivity. As someone who worked in offices for a long time, I concur on this point. When I was just starting my career I worked alongside people with much more experience than I had and I learned a lot from them. Mostly through casual conversations in the office at the coffee machine or elsewhere.

I have been working from home for a long time now, even before the pandemic. While I feel that I am productive, I can also say I'm not learning about as many new things as being in the office. Luckily, I'm at a point in my career where that isn't an issue.

I do miss the camaraderie of the office place though. I don't think I am as close to my coworkers as I have been in the past.
 
It's not a fair comparison - "starting December 2019—before the lockdowns—up to June 2020."

In April, May, and June 2020, people were still adjusting to working from home, dealing with their kids' school moved to the home with no time to prepare, and understanding what COVID was all about.

They need to redo this and look at the 2021 data – after people had the chance to adjust.
 

Puiu

Posts: 4,971   +3,840
TechSpot Elite
Why is the default to assume "collaboration" is automatically equal to "productivity" though? It's not: some coordination is desirable but "collaboration" is a nice way of not saying "Authoritative, top down hierarchy enforcement" and "inter-department meddling"

There's a lot of tasks that just cannot be made to be more efficient by having multiple people intervene: at one point once your division of labor reaches the point at which a single individual is the most efficient at doing that particular chunk of work then that's the most efficient the task is going to get.

What this nonsense about "collaboration" really means is just inter-department politics: people being able to more efficiently breath down their co-worker and subordinate necks to get the task *they* need or are waiting for, done quicker. Doing things remotely and having to write an email puts things down on paper so they can't pretend they're not pressuring you to get what *you* need done when they do so more subtly by dropping by to say hi and "coordinate"

The fact that so many companies kept chugging along without skipping a beat is all the proof you need that most managers just get in the way of people doing their jobs.
I don't usually agree with MS, but from personal experience, working from home does indeed destroy productivity. When I have to do zoom calls and write multiple text messages when at the office it would have taken seconds to do something with a colleague... it just bad.

Many jobs and / or people just don't translate well to "work from home".
 

Aceseven

Posts: 96   +160
My experience with working from home sucked, sucked a lot, being an admin and trying to constantly track down people to solve their issues while they ran off for breaks or whatever knowing I had no way to catch em really blew, the place I worked for didnt have direction for it so I mostly sat at home full of anxiety waiting for emails I couldnt do squat about and scared to take 2 steps from my kitchen table/laptop/sad work area because I didnt want to miss anything important.

Also, just in general, my apt became a prison. I dont know what type of homes most happy home working people live in but they must be pretty big and comfy for them to be so damn happy about it. WFH for me was like some scene from a dystopian film where everyone lives and works in a box and cant leave. sitting on the couch at night and looking over to see my "office" in the kitchen was effing depressing dude.

I now work back in a bldg, giant plant actually and it's great imho, working from home made me grateful that I can drive to a place, work, then drive back home, having that feeling of "I'm done for the day" when I'm riding home is great after losing it for a year. It's awesome so many people are doing wonderful at home but on the flipside some people also need to be able to head out, into offices or whatever and that shouldnt be looked down on.
 

Raunchy

Posts: 26   +6
Exactly. The article says, "hybrid work system would only mitigate the problem of reduced productivity and innovation..."

WHAT reduced productivity? None was cited. The condition mentioned was a reduction of exposure to different groups at the company, an alleged risk to "innovation."

LAME.
 
“Without intervention, the effects we discovered have the potential to impact workers’ ability to acquire and share new information across groups, and as a result, affect productivity and innovation,”

This is a management not worker’s issue. Remote work has exposed how very little work management actually does. The decline in collaboration across groups is a failure of collaboration at the management level. Sure, you won’t bump any longer on colleagues and share information directly, so it’s management job to ensure relevant information is disseminated across and they’re way too lazy to do that or so it seems.

This crappy style of insular management had to change a long time ago. COVID only painfully highlighted this.
 

Tom Yum

Posts: 125   +265
My own 2c, I find WFH easy and more productive because I'm fairly experienced in my role and I know who's who in the zoo to get things done. Less useless meetings is a positive, and if I need to collaborate with some one it is as easy as an impromptu 5 min video call. Desktop sharing can actually make those interactions more productive than a 2 hr meeting.

Having said that, I imagine the situation would be far less positive for junior employees just starting out in a company. A big part of doing a job well is knowing who the key unblockers are and how to get their help. That comes down to relationships which are easy to maintain remotely but would be difficult to form remotely (IMO).

It is not an insurmountable problem to solve, but it requires a more structured mentoring, induction and training systems to overcome.