Sunday, March 30, 2014

Real Pizza... In Real Time

The fact that you establish some kind of human contact is important...  
- Dr. Vint Cerf, co-creator of the Internet

A point of diminishing returns... awaits the user.
One would, naturally, think that the inventor of anything would be its most ardent advocate. Vint Cerf, highlighted in a recent study illuminated by Gallup here, is no exception, yet, quite admirably, he understands his invention's limitation and isn't afraid to speak both openly and wisely about it.

Very few statistical studies impress me, as I often think of the joke when reading a report: if you torture the numbers long enough, they'll tell you anything. Gallup, however, is one of the few organizations which follow a respectable protocol... and one can be assured they've carefully checked, re-checked, and re-checked again, before carefully publishing theirs or others' data. Their latest is no exception.

In summary: If you work with others, go ahead and collaborate online ~ but just a little.

I found their data truly fascinating. Online collaboration, which has become the norm to at least some degree on every staffed estate (even for staff who are working in the same house), is great ~ yet only when used judiciously. Those groups who do so are more productive, and also are less likely to become actively dis-engaged, meaning, consciously sabotaging their work environment. As the amount of Internet use rises, productivity slightly decreases, yet, more worrisome, the actively disengaged/destructive behavior increases. The healthiest groups of all seem to be those who can limit their online collaboration to 20% or less, with productivity remaining somewhat greater than groups with no online collaboration, yet, just as importantly, of having a much lower chance for active disengagement.

Is it the pizza... or the human contact?
Google, who, perhaps, has helped to bring all of our lives online more than any other single entity, is at the forefront with understanding this phenomenon. In their own work spaces, you'll notice in the article, they've purposefully built spaces to create more face-to-face interaction, not less! The old-fashioned notion of eating lunch together is still alive and well, and Google designed their cafeterias to encourage more of this healthy, interactive human behavior.

How does this impact domestic staff households? You may be working in the same house as others, but are you still working remotely from them? What percentage of the day are you spending online in collaboration with others and how is this helping to engage ~ or to actively disengage ~ both yourself and your teammates from your jobs?

Gallup's full report can be downloaded here.