University of South Florida

College of Arts & Sciences


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The drastic shift to remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic forced employees and managers to adapt their communication strategies. Communication is often cited as critical to remote worker success but has rarely been examined within a remote work context. New research, featured in Journal of Applied Psychology, examines how communication quality, communication frequency, and communication expectations relate to employee performance and wellbeing. 


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The researchers surveyed 471 U.S. employees who transitioned from primarily in-person work to 100% remote work at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants completed daily surveys over the course of four weeks. Results showed that more frequent communication was associated with higher levels of employee performance. In fact, counter to theories concerning communication overload, this relationship became exponentially stronger as the frequency of communication increased. Results also showed that increased communication frequency was related to more, rather than less, employee burnout.

While greater communication frequency helps performance, it can also increase burnout, suggesting a performance-burnout tradeoff. The researchers also considered daily communication quality, or the extent that employees receive key information needed to do their job. They found communication quality related to higher employee performance and to lower levels of burnout. In addition, results also indicated that when supervisors set clear communication expectations, it was associated with higher employee performance and lower levels of employee burnout.


The results of this study can inform multiple managerial practices. First, managers should be aware that high quality communication can have benefits for both individual performance and wellbeing. On the other hand, high frequency communication has a weaker relationship with employee performance and could even lead to employee burnout. Managers should work to implement procedures that facilitate the efficient transfer of key information to employees, rather than focus on the frequency with which employees and managers communicate.

Finally, setting communication expectations was beneficial for both performance and wellbeing. The researchers suggest that managers should hold discussions with employees about how communication strategies can meet the individual needs of the employee and the supervisor.

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About CAS

The College of Arts and Sciences is the intellectual heart of the University of South Florida. We are a community of teachers and scholars united in the belief that broadly educated people are the basis of a just, free, and prosperous society. By focusing on the big questions facing all of humanity, we prepare students for successful, socially responsible personal and professional lives. By conducting innovative, interdisciplinary research and scholarship, we advance knowledge in ways that prepare us to address complex social and scientific problems and enhance the quality of life for people and communities.