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Harvard Professors Share Insights on Most Effective Team Collaboration Strategies for Post-Pandemic Efficiency

  • Harvard professors conduct research to determine most effective collaborative tactics developed during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Three main types of interactions identified
  • Employers can improve productivity by understanding each type of interaction and tracking how effectively time is spent on them

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

Managers were often caught off-guard by the shift to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic, developing collaborative tactics through trial and error over the course of several months. With many workplaces considering a hybrid model that allows employees to work from home at least part of the week once the pandemic subsides, employers need to make sure the strategies they have developed remain effective.

Two professors and a doctoral student at Harvard University studied remote team interactions between April and June 2020 through interviews with 51 knowledge workers. The researchers determined three types of interactions crucial to knowledge workers:

  • Task interactions, or collaboration on activities directly contributing to output
  • Process interactions, such as setting responsibilities and timelines for the team’s agenda
  • Relationship interactions, where co-workers support and teach each other

The researchers suggest that managers can improve productivity by understanding these interactions and tracking how effectively time is spent on them. They suggest that asynchronous communications tools such as messaging apps are likely more effective in task and process interactions, while short digital “huddles” can be the most effective way to conduct relationship interactions digitally.

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