Is Distance Dead? Face-to-Face Communication and Productivity in Teams

60 Pages Posted: 27 Mar 2017

See all articles by Diego Battiston

Diego Battiston

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Economics, Students; London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Centre for Economic Performance (CEP)

Jordi Blanes i Vidal

London School of Economics

Tom Kirchmaier

London School of Economics - Centre for Economic Performance; Copenhagen Business School

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 2017

Abstract

Has technology made face-to-face communication redundant? We investigate using a natural experiment in an organisation where a worker must communicate complex electronic information to a colleague. Productivity is higher when the teammates are (exogenously) in the same room and, inside the room, when their desks are closer together. We establish face-to-face communication as the main mechanism, and rule out alternative channels such as higher effort by co-located workers. The effect is stronger for urgent and complex tasks, for homogeneous workers, and for high pressure conditions. We highlight the opportunity costs of face-to-face communication and their dependence on organisational slack.

JEL Classification: D23, M11

Suggested Citation

Battiston, Diego and Blanes i Vidal, Jordi and Kirchmaier, Tom, Is Distance Dead? Face-to-Face Communication and Productivity in Teams (March 2017). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP11924. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2941509

Diego Battiston (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Economics, Students ( email )

London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

Jordi Blanes i Vidal

London School of Economics ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom
+44 (0) 779 51 61 034 (Phone)

Tom Kirchmaier

London School of Economics - Centre for Economic Performance ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom
+44 207 955 6854 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/tomkirchmaier/home

Copenhagen Business School ( email )

Porcelænshaven 24A, 3rd floor
Copenhagen
Denmark

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