Thoughtful Thursday: Telework and productivity

Hat tip to @larsbredhal for pointing out this article on the telecommuting paradox, wherein people are more productive, but less creative when they work at home.

A long time ago, I wrote my dissertation on telecommuting and a matter quite germane to hiring in the tech sector today: satisfaction.

I found a counter-intuitive result: working at home made you happier, but only to a point. After about 2 1/2 days out of the office, in a week, satisfaction started going down. All at home and all at work were both bad.

Maybe there is room for a happy medium.

The Wired article also mentions research from Harvard Medical School and Arizona State showing a positive relationship between being together and idea quality (sort of).

But there’s another factor I haven’t heard people talking about. One part of the definition of creativity is divergent thinking – looking a problems in new or unexpected ways. Being around my own team is one way to encourage me to think creatively. But being in an new setting or talking with new people is another way. This is one reason why we go to conferences in academia. And this kind of contact is easier to find when you’re not in your cubicle 8 hours a day, not to mention commuting time. Again, maybe there is room for a happy medium.

Learn more

This NY Times article talks about the effect of good mood on creativity. If you’re more often in a good mood at home, that might be useful. Or at least, maybe we don’t need to block Grumpy Cat at work.


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