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How to Solve Remote Work’s Biggest Problem

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Highlights

  • In 2022, researchers from MIT and UCLA published a map of face-to-face interactions in the Bay Area made using smartphone geolocation data and matched it to patent citations by individual firms. They were looking for empirical evidence to support the old Jane Jacobs theory that cities promote innovation as people from disparate walks of life bump into each other and cross-pollinate ideas. They concluded that the Jacobs theory was right. The groups and firms with the most face-to-face interactions also had the most unique patent citations.
  • They would coordinate the formation of new groups to tackle new project ideas, the same way that modern teams in science pull together the right researchers from around the world to co-author new papers. They would plan frequent retreats and reunions across the company, even for workers who never have to be together, with the understanding that the best new ideas—whether in science, consulting, or media—often come from the surprising hybridization of disparate expertise.
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