The success of the company and the improvement of employees' creativity and productivity
depend not only on our strong ties with the people in the circle, but also on the weak ties we
have accidentally and inadvertently built.
The "weak ties" theory will change the way people think about workplace and office culture.
In the near future, we will hear many voices about "weak ties", which is a recognized concept in
sociology, anthropology and social network analysis theory.
In two recent studies, experts conducted an in-depth survey of telecommuting people and their
relationship with colleagues, and found that the "weak ties" theory will change the way people think
about workplaces and office culture.
Lack of weak ties affects innovation capability
and working state
The famous American sociologist Mark Granovetter's paper entitled "The Strength of Weak Ties" has
been widely cited. He pointed out that the relationship between people can be divided into strong ties,
weak ties or no relationship. The third one goes without saying. Strong ties exist between relatives,
friends or people in daily contact. Weak ties mainly exist between people who know each other but
are not closely related. They occasionally interact, but often inadvertently.
In his paper, he also emphasized that in the process of network connection, people mainly rely on
different combinations of weak and strong ties to obtain information. In the absence of weak ties,
people will be unable to understand the information they need. People who maintain strong ties,
also obtain information from another similar group through weak ties.
The researchers conducted a large-scale investigation on the effect of telecommuting in two
technology giants. One of them was led by a management group at MIT and conducted in
Microsoft, with 61,000 employees participating. It was found that, although the work efficiency
of most telecommuters kept balance or improved slightly in the short term, their innovation
capability was declining and the time for project completion was prolonged.
The research team believes that the reason for the above problems is that there are fewer face-to
-face meetings and communications among telecommuters, and they work more independently,
which leads to the disappearance of weak ties. Finally, they can only fill the vacancy through strong
ties. Therefore, the research team concluded that weak ties are important bridges to connect different
communities, which can bring more new information and ideas than strong ties. The lack of weak ties
has affected the best working state of employees and had a negative impact on work culture.
Telecommuting affects the establishment of
Compared with that before the epidemic, telecommuting has reduced the time of cross team
collaboration by 25%. The company wide telecommuting has strengthened the internal contact
of some relatively independent work teams, while further alienating the contact with other teams.
The popularity of telecommuting has made employees reluctant to find new partners, while the
cooperation with existing partners is less, which has led to the loss of much vitality of Microsoft's
This conclusion coincides with another study published in the Harvard Business Review. This article
is entitled "Why Home Office Hurts the Video Game Industry". Their answer is that many programmers'
creativity and work efficiency have declined, and the time to complete the project has been delayed.
Although people make more use of their strong ties to communicate during remote work, they ignore
the formation and benefits of weak ties. In general, employees want to cooperate effectively, but
the company has not created the right chance to inspire them. The default cooperation mode in
telecommuting, including processes and tools, makes it impossible to establish new weak ties, while
the old ones lose contact.
The positive impact of weak ties will take months or years to manifest. Many companies may not
know that their work culture has problems for a long time. By the time of discovery, it was too late,
because the short-term measurement of production efficiency prevented them from seeing potential
As summarized by the authors of the above two research reports, when planning future working
methods and workplaces, we must pay attention to that the success of the company and the improvement
of employees' creativity and productivity depend not only on our strong ties with the insiders of the circle,
but also on the weak ties we have accidentally and inadvertently built.