The office stifles creativity because it can create an inhospitable environment for many people. — Claire Cain Miller, The New York Times Staff Writer
The office stifles creativity because it can create an inhospitable environment for many people. — Claire Cain Miller, The New York Times Staff Writer
Do Chance Meetings at the Office Boost Innovation? There’s No Evidence of It. - The New York Times
For some, the office even stifles creativity. As the pandemic eases in the U.S., a few companies seek to reimagine what work might look like.

Yet people who study the issue say there is no evidence that working in person is essential for creativity and collaboration. It may even hurt innovation, they say, because the demand for doing office work at a prescribed time and place is a big reason the American workplace has been inhospitable for many people.

“That’s led to a lot of the outcomes we see in the modern office environment — long hours, burnout, the lack of representation — because that office culture is set up for the advantage of the few, not the many,” said Dan Spaulding, chief people officer at Zillow, the real estate marketplace.


“The idea you can only be collaborative face-to-face is a bias,” he said. “And I’d ask, how much creativity and innovation have been driven out of the office because you weren’t in the insider group, you weren’t listened to, you didn’t go to the same places as the people in positions of power were gathering?”

He and others suggested reimagining the office entirely — as somewhere people go to every so often, to meet or socialize, while daily work is done remotely. At Zillow, nearly all employees will be remote or come in only once in a while. Several times a year, teams will go to small offices set up for gathering.

“There’s credibility behind the argument that if you put people in spaces where they are likely to collide with one another, they are likely to have a conversation,” said Ethan S. Bernstein, who teaches at Harvard Business School and studies the topic. “But is that conversation likely to be helpful for innovation, creativity, useful at all for what an organization hopes people would talk about? There, there is almost no data whatsoever.”

“All of this suggests to me that the idea of random serendipity being productive is more fairy tale than reality,” he said.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/23/upshot/remote-work-innovation-office.html