WJR Business Beat: Innovation Requires Staff to Be in Office (Episode 472)

Employees working from home results in a breakdown in the ability to innovate effectively and stay ahead of the competition, an MIT study shows. Jeff has the details on the impact of remote work in this Business Beat.

Tune in below for more:


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Good morning, Paul!

Most business owners today really struggle to sort out whether to have their teams work from home versus working in the office. It’s simply a real conundrum. Looking for intel on how to handle this? Well, now new data from an MIT study helps shed light on one more important reason to bring your teams back into the office.

According to the MIT study, when workers go remote, the types of work relationships that encourage innovation tend to be hard hit and this results in a breakdown in the ability to innovate effectively and stay ahead of the competition.

Carlo Ratti, a professor of the practice of urban technology and planning at MIT, had this to say: “We can finally look to data from our study to address the critical question of how the pandemic-induced adoption of remote working affected our ability to be creative and innovate on the job.”

For 18 months starting in December 2019, MIT researchers analyzed an email network comprising, roughly 2,800 MIT research staff, faculty and post-doctoral researchers, and found that for team members working remotely that absence of having physical proximity led to a breakdown in innovation.

Paulo Santi, a researcher at MIT who worked on the study, says our research shows that colocation is a crucial factor to fostering innovation. Data shows that important interactions between team members evaporated at MIT starting on March 23, 2020, with a 38% drop in those interactions. He says now the MIT team concludes that it’s not only important to have your team members in the office, working together with proximity to one another, but also to find ways to encourage serendipitous interactions across team members in order to foster innovation.

So if you’re a business on the fence about whether to bring your people back into the office or not just know that in order to innovate, data now supports the need to get your team together for at least some of the time.

I’m Jeff Sloan, founder and CEO of startupnation.com, and that’s today’s Business Beat on the Great Voice of the Great Lakes, WJR.

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