Forgetting the Lessons of the Phalanx: Zooming In Does Not Work for Some

September 14, 2021

I read a write up from the Android mobile of Captain Obvious. The title? Here she be: “Study of Microsoft Employees Shows How Remote Work Puts Productivity and Innovation at Risk.” Ground breaking!

The article explains without a trace of Saturday Night Live humor:

A new study finds that Microsoft’s companywide shift to remote work has hurt communication and collaboration among different business groups inside the company, threatening employee productivity and long-term innovation.

To make the academic goodness of the report even more credible, the write up explains that the research report was:

published Thursday morning by Microsoft researchers in the journal Nature Human Behaviour. It coincides with Microsoft’s announcement that employees won’t be returning to the office Oct. 4 as previously expected.

I circled this quote nestled in the article:

The desire of employees to have both flexibility and connection with others is what Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella calls the “Great Paradox.” The company is also announcing new features in Teams, LinkedIn and other products meant to address some of the challenges revealed by the data.

War fighters employing the reliable phalanx figured out that Zooming in to a battle was not a reliable way to win. Teaming in, even with new features, is unlikely to yield better results.

Perhaps the lack of togetherness at Microsoft makes life easier for those exploiting the security peculiarities of Microsoft systems and software? No, hold that thought, please. Microsoft’s Windows 11 is a Covid era product. The Microsoft Exchange Server and Azure issues are from PC time; that is, the pre Covid period.

Perhaps the already present communications and togetherness issues have been present for many years. The work from home approach just amplified them.

Paradoxical? Nope. Management acting as a 50000 watt AM radio station. Static, anyone? Will Microsoft employees do the Thermopylae thing to defeat Microsoft’s antagonists? Sure, just via Zoom and one hopes a functioning Teams with extra features.

Stephen E Arnold, September 14, 2021

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