Are colleagues who collaborate remotely via the Internet at a disadvantage compared to their bricks-and-mortar office-bound counterparts? One recent study from Harvard University suggests so, according to a blog post by Wired columnist Clive Thompson.

The study, titled "Does Collocation Inform the Impact of Collaboration?" examined this very question using a sample 35,000 biomedical research papers. The team of three scientists calculated the physical distance between the authors of each paper and looked at how many citations the papers received, as a way of measuring how influential they were.

The study found that researchers who lived closer together produced more impactful research. In fact, the closer the authors were, the better. "Teams located in the same building did better than teams that were merely in the same city, and teams that were in the same city did better than those that were inter-city," writes Thompson.

This is a potentially important question for businesses of all sizes, as the workforce becomes increasingly mobile, thanks to smart phones and cloud-based Web apps.

Of course, it's hard to know if these results apply to other forms of work, beyond biomedical research. The advantages and disadvantages of working on a distributed team may well depend on the type of work being performed, with some tasks and projects being more ideal for being worked on remotely than others.

What do you think think? Is it better to work remotely or in the same physical space? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user brad montgomery