Collaborating During Coronavirus: The Impact of COVID-19 on the Nature of Work

32 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2020

See all articles by Evan DeFilippis

Evan DeFilippis

Harvard University - Business School (HBS)

Stephen Michael Impink

New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business

Madison Singell

Harvard University - Business School (HBS)

Jeffrey T. Polzer

Harvard Business School

Raffaella Sadun

Harvard University - Strategy Unit; London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Centre for Economic Performance (CEP); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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Date Written: July 16, 2020

Abstract

We explore the impact of COVID-19 on employee's digital communication patterns through an event study of lockdowns in 16 large metropolitan areas in North America, Europe and the Middle East. Using de-identified, aggregated meeting and email meta-data from 3,143,270 users, we find, compared to pre-pandemic levels, increases in the number of meetings per person (+12.9 percent) and the number of attendees per meeting (+13.5 percent), but decreases in the average length of meetings (-20.1 percent). Collectively, the net effect is that people spent less time in meetings per day (-11.5 percent) in the post-lockdown period. We also find significant and durable increases in length of the average workday (+8.2 percent, or +48.5 minutes), along with short-term increases in email activity. These findings provide insight from a novel dataset into how the nature of work has changed for a large sample of knowledge workers. We discuss these changes in light of the ongoing challenges faced by organizations and workers struggling to adapt and perform in the face of a global pandemic.

Suggested Citation

DeFilippis, Evan and Impink, Stephen and Singell, Madison and Polzer, Jeffrey T. and Sadun, Raffaella, Collaborating During Coronavirus: The Impact of COVID-19 on the Nature of Work (July 16, 2020). Harvard Business School Organizational Behavior Unit Working Paper No. 21-006, Harvard Business School Strategy Unit Working Paper No. 21-006, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3654470 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3654470

Evan DeFilippis

Harvard University - Business School (HBS) ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

Stephen Impink

New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business ( email )

44 West 4th Street
Suite 9-160
New York, NY NY 10012
United States

Madison Singell

Harvard University - Business School (HBS) ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

Jeffrey T. Polzer (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States
617-495-8047 (Phone)
617-496-6568 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.people.hbs.edu/jpolzer

Raffaella Sadun

Harvard University - Strategy Unit ( email )

Harvard Business School
Soldiers Field Road
Boston, 02163
United States

HOME PAGE: http://people.hbs.edu/rsadun

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

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/staff/person.asp?id=1758

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

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