January 28, 2022

Journal Article: “The Effects of Remote Work on Collaboration Among Information Workers”

The following article was recently published by Nature Human Behavior.


The Effects of Remote Work on Collaboration Among Information Workers


Longqi Yang

David Holtz
Haas School of Business, University of California, MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy

Sonia Jaffe

Siddharth Suri

Shilpi Sinha

Jeffrey Weston

Connor Joyce

Neha Shah

Kevin Sherman

Brent Hecht

Jaime Teevan


Nature Human Behavior (2021)
DOI: 10.1038/s41562-021-01196-4


The coronavirus disease 2019 (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 before the pandemic enables us to separate the effects of firm-wide remote work from other pandemic-related confounding factors. Here, we use rich data on the emails, calendars, instant messages, video/audio calls and workweek hours of 61,182 US Microsoft employees over the first six months of 2020 to estimate the causal effects of firm-wide remote work on collaboration and communication. Our results show 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 may make it harder for employees to acquire and share new information across the network.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.