Many of us were A-OK shoving our bus/train/parking passes into a junk drawer and wearing sweatpants 24/7 when much of corporate America started full-time WFH in 2020.
But now that vaccines are a thing, U.S. companies are trying to figure out if, when, and how to return to the office. And, unfortunately for all of us, company-wide WFH doesn’t seem to be doing our employers (or us) a ton of favors.
This month, Microsoft released a study that included more than 61,000 of its employees from December 2019 to June 2020, just before and after the transition to company-wide remote work. The company looked at data from its internal tools — like Microsoft Teams and Outlook — to see how communication changed with the switch to WFH.
The study basically found that while company-wide remote work (obvi) dropped in-person interactions to a big fat zero, employees replaced those interactions with asynchronous communication methods (like email and instant messages) rather than scheduled audio/video calls.
OK, so what?? Don’t we all love the ability to use GIFs in every conversation?
Well, according to the study, asynchronous communication makes it more difficult for employees to collaborate and exchange information, which can potentially hurt productivity and innovation. Womp womp.
It also found that employees’ workweeks were about 10 percent longer while working remotely. The exact reason for that isn’t clear, but here are some of the noted possibilities:
- People were less productive and needed more time to do the work.
- People replaced commute time with work time.
- People spent the same amount of time working but took more breaks during the day to do nonwork things.
Regardless of why people are working longer workweeks, they are. And we can probably all agree that working longer hours and being less productive/innovative is a bad combo for everyone.
Microsoft’s study was only on one company (itself), so this may not be the case across the board. But as more and more people quit their jobs (we’re literally seeing the highest quit rates since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics started tracking this stat in 2000), it’ll be interesting to see how companies try to keep employees happy, productive, and — most importantly — healthy.
We vote shorter workweeks. Who’s with us?