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Microsoft remote work study: Average length of workweek has increased 10% during pandemic

A Microsoft examine inspecting know-how utilization by its staff has revealed a decrease in cross-company communication, and sparked a vigorous dialogue concerning the long-term impression of remote work on collaboration, productiveness, and innovation.

However the peer-reviewed examine, published last week in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, contains one other notable discovering that would additionally resonate past Microsoft’s digital partitions: The length of the typical workweek inside the corporate increased by about 10% after the shift to remote work.

Nonetheless, the researchers say that doesn’t essentially imply staff are working extra hours inside the span of that longer workweek.

They clarify, “The rise in workweek hours may very well be a sign that staff had been much less productive and required extra time to finish their work, or that they changed some of their commuting time with work time; nevertheless, as we’re in a position to measure solely the time between the primary and final work exercise in a day, it may be that the identical quantity of working time is unfold throughout a higher share of the calendar day because of breaks or interruptions for non-work actions.”

Right here’s how they calculated workweek hours, based on the examine: “The sum throughout day-after-day within the workweek of the time between an individual’s first despatched e mail or IM, scheduled assembly or Microsoft Groups video/audio name, and the final despatched e mail or IM, scheduled assembly or Microsoft Groups video/audio name. A day is an element of the workweek if it’s a ‘working day’ for a given worker primarily based on their work calendar.”

Microsoft’s examine, analyzing the tech utilization of greater than 61,000 staff, was released as part of a broader look at the future of work by Microsoft and LinkedIn.

The findings have drawn widespread consideration and evaluation as corporations and staff grapple with the implications of remote work — prolonged by the COVID-19 Delta variant — and make future plans to return to the workplace or set up hybrid workplaces.

A large examine at Microsoft provides to the rising image of the sudden shift to remote work: the issue shouldn’t be with present work & groups; it’s the future of organizations. Individuals cease creating new bonds & grow to be extra siloed. Dangerous for innovation & careers. https://t.co/pfHzqYo9Ub pic.twitter.com/JqfTbESn66

— Ethan Mollick (@emollick) September 10, 2021

Listed here are the important thing findings as summarized in a Microsoft Research blog post.

However this sentiment from the Nature Human Behaviour article is getting a lot of the scrutiny: “We count on that the results we observe on staff’ collaboration and communication patterns will impression productiveness and, within the long-term, innovation.”

In a detailed Twitter thread, Steven Sinofsky, a know-how investor and advisor, and former Microsoft Home windows president, cautioned in opposition to equating communication with collaboration, or drawing conclusions concerning the potential impression of the change in communication on productiveness and innovation.

3/ I’ve little doubt that this analysis precisely captures the circulate of info utilizing digital instruments across the firm for over 60K folks. That is an enormous quantity of work and evaluation. Kudos. The problem from the outset is that it conflates that circulate with “collaboration”.

— Steven Sinofsky (@stevesi) September 14, 2021

General, the Microsoft researchers contend that it’s too early to completely assess the long-term impression of remote work, and firms trying to set long-term insurance policies now might face unintended penalties down the street.

In lots of instances, they write within the journal article, “companies are making choices to undertake everlasting remote work insurance policies primarily based solely on short-term knowledge.”

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