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Study finds communication strongly linked to productivity in a software organisation

ANI | Updated: Jul 15, 2021 21:06 IST

Washington [US], July 15 (ANI): A novel analysis of three years of conversations at a software engineering organisation suggested a strong relationship between communication and productivity.
Arindam Dutta of Arizona State University, US and colleagues presented these findings in the open-access journal 'PLOS ONE'.
According to widespread belief, communication within an organisation contributes to productivity. However, most research into this relationship has relied on indirect measurements of communication, rather than direct observations--which are far more challenging to capture and analyse. Therefore, strong evidence of a link between communication and productivity has been lacking.
To help clarify this link, Dutta and colleagues developed a rigorous method for capturing and analysing direct observations of communication within an organisation.
Their approach applies network and speech analysis strategies to audio recordings of conversations between employees, illuminating when different employees talk to each other as well as speech characteristics that could indicate each speaker's emotional state.

This communication data is then analysed in relation to employee productivity, measured according to the number of lines of computer code written in a given time.
To demonstrate this novel method, the researchers used it to analyse the communication and productivity of 79 employees of a software engineering organisation who volunteered to have their speech recorded at work over 3 years.
The analysis showed that communication was indeed strongly linked to productivity, and that, by analysing the audio recordings, the researchers could predict productivity with a mean absolute error of below 10 percent.
The researchers noted that certain aspects of communication were linked more strongly to productivity than others.
Specifically, characteristics of the communication network (including, for instance, who speaks with whom or how often employees interact) appear to be more important than characteristics of the speech itself.
While this study suggested a relationship between communication and productivity, it doesn't clarify whether communication causes changes in productivity or if productivity changes the communication network.
Nonetheless, the novel method to analyse audio recordings could enable deeper, more rigorous research on communication within a group or organisation. (ANI)