more efficiency less creativity, management

“Don’t force your employees to go back to manual labor! »Call from an economist Nicholas Bloom 2021 July. It was widely reported in the Harvard Business Review. Large technology companies (Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon …) and financial companies (JP Morgan, Bank of America …) have introduced a mixed work organization that allows their employees to work remotely 1 or 2 days a week. Up to a third of American workers are exposed to this pattern of work organization, a figure close to that published in France in 2021 (27%).

And even if there is little erosion at work, four-fifths of workers who taste it say they want to continue using the hybrid. Intensive research activities have been developed to assess the consequences of this revolution. There are two initial lessons.

Work stops have dropped dramatically

The first lesson is that hybrid work is fast becoming the standard. In the case of intangible service activities, this is a decisive competitive advantage for white employees, as it contributes strongly to employee loyalty without compromising productivity. Stanford teams recently developed an experimental protocol that allows it to be accurately identified with the support of a Shanghai-based airline.

The company offered a hybrid model of 1,600 volunteers installed in the Apple group (2-3 days a week at home). It drew lots to draw the first beneficiaries of the scheme for a period of six months. A dramatic reduction in wear (-35%) was observed between the treatment group and the control group and sick leave (-12 percent). Blended work significantly increases job satisfaction and in no way impairs productivity.

The screen narrows the “cognitive area” of the exchange.

The second lesson is that teleworking reduces creativity. The study, published in the journal Nature this week, is getting full attention. It compares double-blind working pairs face-to-face and video conferencing. The research teams (Stanford and Columbia) initially conducted a laboratory experiment (620 participants) supplemented by a company experiment (1490 employees). Lots of testing is done. Employees’ “productivity of ideas” is measured, ie the ability to generate new ideas.

The study shows an impressive regression of creativity after video conferencing. She explains this as follows: the screen filter narrows the “cognitive perimeter” of the exchange; even if eye contact between individuals seems less altered than one might think, employees spend correspondingly much more time focusing on their peers in video sharing and spend less time entertaining their environment; but entertainment is an elementary part of creativity!

Re-invention of the meeting format, unexpected …

There is a “revolution in attention” in companies. Ignoring this would be a serious mistake. This is in line with what revolutionized the world of media after the advent of social media. Everything in this area needs to be rethought to change the format of meetings, recreate entertainment and surprises, allow for a focus on sustainability, structure knowledge bases, articulate physical and virtual …

What needs to be invented ultimately corresponds to what has been in the world of education pedagogy invented by Maria Montessori at the beginning, which encourages creativity and skills through student autonomy. Give way to Montessori for life!

Etienne Grass, Capgemini Executive Vice President, Teacher of Sciences Po Paris.

Hubert Gildon

"Coffee maven. Bacon nerd. Infuriatingly humble beer expert. Explorer. Tv guru. General alcohol specialist. Gamer. Proud problem solver."

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