An interesting paper published on 9th September 2021, in Nature Human Behaviour by Yang and others looked at the effect of remote working on collaboration amongst information workers.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused a rapid shift to full time remote work for many information workers.
Viewing this shift as a natural experiment in which some workers were already working remotely from the pandemic enabled the study to separate the effects of firm-wide remote working from other pandemic related confounding factors.
They used rich data on the emails, calendars, instant messages, videos/audio calls, and 61 hours of work per week.
6182 Microsoft employees over the first six months of 2020 looked to estimate the causal effects of firm wide remote work on collaboration and communication.
The results showed that firm wide remote work caused the collaboration network of workers to become more static and siloed with fewer bridges between disparate parts.
Furthermore, there was a decrease in synchronous communication and an increase in asynchronous communication.
Together, these effects made it harder for employees to acquire and share new information across the network.
Dr Paul Ettlinger
BM, DRCOG, FRCGP, FRIPH, DOccMed