The Boston Globe: Do people really get more work done at home?

Ben Waber, Humanyze President and co-founder, was quoted on the Boston Globe article titled “Do people really get more work done at home?” by Scott Kirsner.

Ben Waber, CEO of Humanyze ― a Boston startup that sells software to large companies to help them understand workplace dynamics ― says he is finding that now that face-to-face meetings and impromptu kitchen chats have been eliminated, employees are communicating more with their closest collaborators. But he also notes that communication has dropped 15 percent with colleagues they don’t work directly with on a regular basis. It’s also tougher for employees to establish new relationships at the company right now, Waber says.

He observes that you can easily quantify how much more productive a worker is if his or her job involves, for example, reviewing expense reports all day. Are they reviewing more reports each day in May 2020 than they did in January 2020? But for more creative endeavors, such as designing a product, losing both planned and ad hoc conversations in-person may be more important than we understand.

“Our customers are Fortune 500 companies,” Waber says, “and I’m concerned for their medium- to long-term output. If we look out toward the end of the year, or into next year, my strong hypothesis is that we’ll see some weird misses on deadlines, or product releases that are sub-par.

“A lot of us will write that off to post-COVID hangover, or economic conditions, but it’ll likely be due to the fact that the social structures that make up organizations” — and all that casual exchange of information that happens in an office — “have taken a really significant hit.”

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Last Updated 07 August 2021