For teams to work successfully and effectively as a unit, they must find ways to gather their knowledge, data and skillsets to apply them to a common issue in the workplace—or in society as a whole. This is known as collective intelligence, and it is crucial in business teams. As remote work increasingly becomes the norm, how will the relative isolation of team infringe on fostering this collective intelligence?
Many leaders worry that remote work will be detrimental to the synergy of teams, but a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences puts these fears to rest. The results of the study, which involved more than 5,000 participants in over 1,300 groups across 22 different samples, show that groups working remotely can be as effective as groups working face to face. Here’s what researchers learned.
Not where, but how and who
Teams are increasingly working remotely, a change that was imposed more broadly at the onset of the pandemic, but which many predict will continue into the future regardless of covid-related regulations. This enormous shift in how work is accomplished, particularly work that hinges on the collective strength of teams, has raised questions and revealed some answers about what makes teams work.
Rather than emphasise the differences in how we work today from pre-pandemic times, the recent study highlights what similarities are fundamental. For example, the collaboration process was analysed, and two important points surfaced about what successful collaboration depends on: First, team members must establish who is strongest at which tasks, and second they must ensure all required tasks are covered as they coordinate their efforts. This is true with both face-to-face and remote teams.