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


  • Evan DeFilippis
  • Stephen Michael Impink
  • Madison Singell
  • Jeffrey T. Polzer
  • Raffaella Sadun


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.

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  • Evan DeFilippis & Stephen Michael Impink & Madison Singell & Jeffrey T. Polzer & Raffaella Sadun, 2020. "Collaborating During Coronavirus: The Impact of COVID-19 on the Nature of Work," NBER Working Papers 27612, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:27612
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Nicholas Bloom & James Liang & John Roberts & Zhichun Jenny Ying, 2015. "Does Working from Home Work? Evidence from a Chinese Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 130(1), pages 165-218.
    2. Batia M. Wiesenfeld & Sumita Raghuram & Raghu Garud, 1999. "Communication Patterns as Determinants of Organizational Identification in a Virtual Organization," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 10(6), pages 777-790, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jose Maria Barrero & Nicholas Bloom & Steven J. Davis, 2020. "Why Working From Home Will Stick," Working Papers 2020-174, Becker Friedman Institute for Research In Economics.
    2. Maria Barrero, Jose & Bloom, Nicholas & Davis, Steven J., 2021. "Internet access and its implications for productivity, inequality and resilience," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 113869, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    3. Massimo Magni & Manju K. Ahuja & Chiara Trombini, 2023. "Excessive Mobile Use and Family-Work Conflict: A Resource Drain Theory Approach to Examine Their Effects on Productivity and Well-Being," Information Systems Research, INFORMS, vol. 34(1), pages 253-274, March.
    4. Andrew L. Kun & Raffaella Sadun & Orit Shaer & Thomaz Teodorovicz, 2022. "How does working from home during Covid-19 affect what managers do? Evidence from time-use studies," CEP Discussion Papers dp1844, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    5. Jean-Marc Bourgeon & José de Sousa & Alexis Noir-Luhalwe, 2022. "Social Distancing and Risk Taking: Evidence from a Team Game Show [Distanciation sociale et prise de risque : Les résultats d'un jeu d'équipe]," SciencePo Working papers Main hal-03792423, HAL.
    6. Thomas Bolli & Filippo Pusterla, 2022. "Decomposing the effects of digitalization on workers’ job satisfaction," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 69(2), pages 263-300, June.
    7. Daniela Del Boca & Noemi Oggero & Paola Profeta & Maria Cristina Rossi, 2021. "Did COVID-19 Affect the Division of Labor within the Household? Evidence from Two Waves of the Pandemic in Italy," Working Papers 2021-043, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    8. Michał Błaszczyk & Milan Popović & Karolina Zajdel & Radosław Zajdel, 2023. "Implications of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Organization of Remote Work in IT Companies: The Managers’ Perspective," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 15(15), pages 1-17, August.
    9. Tahlyan, Divyakant & Said, Maher & Mahmassani, Hani & Stathopoulos, Amanda & Walker, Joan & Shaheen, Susan, 2022. "For whom did telework not work during the Pandemic? understanding the factors impacting telework satisfaction in the US using a multiple indicator multiple cause (MIMIC) model," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 155(C), pages 387-402.
    10. Max Nathan & Henry Overman, 2020. "Will coronavirus cause a big city exodus?," Environment and Planning B, , vol. 47(9), pages 1537-1542, November.
    11. Althoff, Lukas & Eckert, Fabian & Ganapati, Sharat & Walsh, Conor, 2022. "The Geography of Remote Work," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(C).
    12. Ting Zhang & Dan Gerlowski & Zoltan Acs, 2022. "Working from home: small business performance and the COVID-19 pandemic," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 58(2), pages 611-636, February.
    13. Nicholas Bloom & Arjun Ramani, 2021. "The donut effect of Covid-19 on cities," CEP Discussion Papers dp1793, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    14. Erdsiek, Daniel, 2021. "Working from home during COVID-19 and beyond: Survey evidence from employers," ZEW Discussion Papers 21-051, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    15. Standaert, Willem & Muylle, Steve & Basu, Amit, 2022. "Business meetings in a postpandemic world: When and how to meet virtually," Business Horizons, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 267-275.
    16. Bratti, Massimiliano & Brunetti, Irene & Corvasce, Alessandro & Maida, Agata & Ricci, Andrea, 2024. "Did COVID-19 (permanently) raise the demand for "teleworkable" jobs?," GLO Discussion Paper Series 1415, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    17. Anthony Fakhoury & Ali Fakih, 2023. "Government intervention and business response as determinants of business continuity amid COVID-19: the case of Jordan and Morocco," International Journal of Economic Policy in Emerging Economies, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 17(2), pages 196-219.
    18. Wu, Hongyue & Chang, Yuan & Chen, Yunfeng, 2024. "Greenhouse gas emissions under work from home vs. office: An activity-based individual-level accounting model," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 353(PB).
    19. Andrea Ascani & Alessandra Faggian & Sandro Montresor & Alessandro Palma, 2021. "Moving (within and across) spatial labour markets in times of COVID-19: evidence from Facebook mobility data on Italian labour market areas," Discussion Paper series in Regional Science & Economic Geography 2021-01, Gran Sasso Science Institute, Social Sciences, revised Jan 2021.
    20. Essbaumer, Elisabeth, 2022. "Home Office is here to stay? Access to Home Office and Remote Work Potentials across Swiss Industries," Economics Working Paper Series 2213, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
    21. Shen, Lucas, 2023. "Does working from home work? A natural experiment from lockdowns," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 151(C).
    22. Fischer Kai, 2022. "Thinning out spectators: Did football matches contribute to the second COVID-19 wave in Germany?," German Economic Review, De Gruyter, vol. 23(4), pages 595-640, December.
    23. Christine Ipsen & Marc van Veldhoven & Kathrin Kirchner & John Paulin Hansen, 2021. "Six Key Advantages and Disadvantages of Working from Home in Europe during COVID-19," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 18(4), pages 1-17, February.

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    JEL classification:

    • L2 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior
    • L23 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Organization of Production
    • M0 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - General

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