The New York Times: When Chance Encounters at the Water Cooler Are Most Useful

Humanyze was recently featured in a New York Times article discussing how remote work is more productive, but employees aren’t talking to others with who they normally wouldn’t collaborate- weak ties. Here is an excerpt of Ben’s research on the benefits of an initial in-person meeting to boost innovation:

“A new analysis of announcements by the 50 largest public video game companies, by Ben Waber and Zanele Munyikwa, found that companies that moved to remote work during the pandemic had more delays in new products than before the pandemic, while those that worked in person did not.”

“The researchers have a hypothesis about why. They also tracked billions of communications — email, chat, and calendar data — among information employees at a dozen large global companies over recent years. They found that while working remotely, individual workers were more productive than before, and communicated more with people at different levels of the company and with close colleagues. But they communicated 21 percent less with their weak ties. Perhaps the video game developers lost the benefit of asking a co-worker from a different department to test a prototype, for example, or of running into someone from marketing and brainstorming ideas for selling a new game.”

“I do think eventually technology will help here, but the stuff that’s widely available today just doesn’t do it,” said Mr. Waber, co-founder of Humanyze, a workplace analytics company started at M.I.T. Media Lab, where he got a Ph.D. “It probably would be fine if those initial water cooler conversations happened remotely. It’s just less likely they would.”

To read the full article, follow this link.

Last Updated 07 September 2021