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Less working remotely

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As a result of the pandemic, many employees have been working remotely. Now, researchers are trying to estimate the impacts on employee communication and the dynamics of collaboration. In the USA, a team led by Longqi Yang, a computer scientist from Microsoft’s Department of Applied Research, analyzed anonymous data from emails, calendars, instant messages, and audio and video calls made by the company’s more than 61,000 employees in the first six months of 2020—before and after working from home became standard practise. They found that the change made collaborative networks more isolated and less interconnected (Nature Human Behavior, September 9). On average, employees spent 25% less time collaborating with peers from other groups than before the pandemic, possibly because they started interacting more via email and instant messaging (especially with individuals in their closest circle) and less through face-to-face conversations, telephone calls, and videoconferences.