HOMEWORKING TEAMS vs FACE-TO-FACE SOCIAL INTERACTIONS
1. PROBLEMHomeworking in the UK has risen from 5% before the pandemic to around half (45%). Knowledge driven industries such as the software sector rely on employees’ expertise to produce a finished product and software developers are increasingly working in virtual teams with little face-to face social interaction. How important are these face-to-face interactions in sharing knowledge?
2. INITIAL APPROACH
Teams are made up of workers with different expertise. Expert knowledge is mostly tacit or implicit meaning it is difficult to articulate.
It was assumed that virtual working would have little impact on the ability of software teams to share expert knowledge, especially as these teams work with codified systems.
3. DISCOVERYSurvey research by RepGraph into software development teams, showed expert knowledge was acquired and shared directly through good quality social interactions, along with high levels of team psychological safety and through the development of a team memory systems. This allowed expert tacit knowledge to be shared, which led to o more effective, better quality products (but not necessarily more efficient processes) than remote, homeworking teams or teams with poor quality social interaction.
These findings have implications for the future of homeworking. Virtual teams are efficient but if the products are not effective or of poor quality then this will impact costs further down the line.
A balance is needed to ensure that teams can work together, not just in formal meetings but in the office environment where social interactions lead to knowledge sharing, in particular, tacit knowledge dissemination