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Working from home during the covid-19 lockdown has blurred the line between professional and personal space and time. As organizations adjust to virtual life, employees face longer work hours and engage in shorter but more frequent meetings, finds a new study.

The study by researchers from Harvard Business School covers 21,478 firms of 16 cities in North America, Europe, and West Asia. To look at post-lockdown internal communication of these companies, the study uses data about meetings and email activity for around 3.1 million users.

Organizations held 12.9% more meetings per person after the lockdown began, the study finds. However, the duration of the meetings fell 20% on average. As a result, employees spent 18.6 fewer minutes in meetings per day, the study finds. Attendance at meetings increased 13.5%.

The trend of shorter but more frequent meetings continued during the course of the lockdown.

Email activity spiked in the weeks just after the lockdown but later levelled out. Internal emails per person increased by 5.2% and the number of recipients rose by 2.9% during the period, the study finds.

Average work hours increased by 48.5 minutes a day, the study finds by analyzing the time the first and the last internal emails of each day were sent. While this could be the result of the extended working hours, it is also possible that employees had more flexibility in choosing when to work while managing household chores.

The study suggests covid-19 lockdowns could have led to rapid adjustments to virtual communication and collaboration in organizations. For instance, frequent but shorter meetings serve the purpose of substituting impromptu meetings that happen in office settings. This can help employees be more attentive and ensure accountability on a regular basis, the authors suggest

Also read: Collaborating during coronavirus: The impact of covid-19 on the nature of work

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