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.
|Place of Publication||London|
|Publisher||Centre for Economic Performance (CEP), London School of Economics and Political Science|
|Number of pages||57|
|Publication status||Published - Mar 2017|
|Series||CEP Discussion Paper|
- Face-to-face communication