With the Covid-19 pandemic ongoing, the move to an online workplace has become widespread and may well endure. But, as many organizations are learning, managing the flow of communication among remote teams is tricky.
Our latest research findings have led to insights that can help. They center on the concepts of burstiness, information diversity, and physiological synchrony, attention to which can foster creativity, streamline processes, reduce the stress of multi-tasking, and improve team performance.
Human communication is naturally “bursty,” in that it involves periods of high activity followed by periods of little to none. Our research suggests that such bursts of rapid-fire communications, with longer periods of silence in between, are hallmarks of successful teams. Those silent periods are when team members often form and develop their ideas — deep work that may generate the next steps in a project or the solution to a challenge faced by the group. Bursts, in turn, help to focus energy, develop ideas, and achieve closure on specific questions, thus enabling team members to move on to the next challenge.
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