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

Diego Battistón (), Jordi Blanes i Vidal and Tom Kirchmaier

CEP Discussion Papers from Centre for Economic Performance, LSE

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.

Keywords: teamwork; face-to-face communication; distance; organisations (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D23 M11 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hrm and nep-ict
Date: 2017-03
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Working Paper: Is Distance Dead? Face-to-Face Communication and Productivity in Teams (2017) Downloads
Working Paper: Is distance dead? Face-to-face communication and productivity in teams (2017) Downloads
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