In this Backstage Pass segment, recorded on Feb. 4, industrial organizational psychologist Dr. Elora Voyles joins Motley Fool contributor Rachel Warren to discuss the hidden costs of remote work. Voyles details a study of 60,000 Microsoft employees that showed how remote work can cause communication to become siloed in large organizations.
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Rachel Warren: There was a six-month study that's been reported on widely that was conducted by Microsoft, and the study was of 60,000 of its employees over a six-month period. It was published in Nature. The study concluded that while a remote working model could increase employee productivity in the near term, it could potentially have the opposite effect over the long term. What's your view on this?
Elora Voyles: Well, I think that Yang and colleagues had a great point when they wrote their article. The research does highlight that there are some hidden effects of hybrid and remote work, and when we have this large-scale remote work switch, it can impact our communication in the organization. As their results showed, the communication became a lot more siloed. People weren't reaching across different networks to chat or to develop ideas.
This can be a hidden cost as well, in addition to the Zoom ceiling. Very much like the Zoom ceiling, I think it means that we need to wield remote work as a tool carefully. We need to be thoughtful about how we're using it and intentional. Knowing this and having this valuable research can help managers decide, "Let's have a brainstorming session or a get together session once a week across different departments so that we can share ideas." It requires that active management to alleviate these potential downsides that we may not have been aware of.