‘Working from home’ hinders creativity and innovation, study finds


Now your boss has compelling science to tell you to get back to the office, giving up working from home. A new study reported by MIT news suggests that a remote work environment has a negative impact on our working relationship, hindering innovation and creativity in our work.

Research published in Computational science of nature attempts to scientifically answer the question of what was lost when Covid-19 forced us to work in a virtual setup, replacing a physical workplace.

“Until now, we could only guess. Today, we can finally start putting real data behind these assumptions,” Carlo Ratti, director of the Senseable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), says the research is important.

What does the study say?

Researchers examined the impact of remote work on work efficiency after physical work was halted on the MIT campus due to Covid-19.

The study indicates that email communication between different research units has dropped drastically, leading to a disruption in the exchange of new ideas due to the loosening of “weak ties” between staff.

What are “weak ties”?

In sociology, weak ties refer to your relationships with acquaintances or colleagues that you don’t work with too often. On the other hand, strong bonds develop between your family members, team members with whom you interact regularly.

Why are “weak ties” important?

According to sociologist Mark Granovetter, these sufficiently good relationships with other members in the workplace are crucial. His study mentions that individuals with many weak ties are best placed to spread a difficult innovation.

Research indicates that remote work has a concerning effect on these weak ties. He says co-location is important for fostering weak ties.

Data from the study showed that weak ties declined by 38% at MIT one year after the March 23, 2020 pandemic, and were further reduced to an estimated cumulative loss of more than 5,100 new weak ties over the past few years. next 18 months.

However, the virtual setup made it possible to interact remotely with our team, but our interactions with those who are not part of our team, the other employees of the department, have decreased significantly, which significantly impedes the flow of innovation between different teams. While being physically present, the chances of creating new connections and strengthening existing ones are enhanced.

Recovery of weak links

The research is optimistic that “full weak link recovery” is possible once there is work reintegration from the office configuration. However, while anticipating this, the research also recognizes the flexibility that working from home offers an individual and advocates a hybrid work environment (mixture of remote and physical work) as the optimal solution.


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