”I do not know what I do not know” : information flow without informal communication : changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and remote work

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http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-202110063855
Title: ”I do not know what I do not know” : information flow without informal communication : changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and remote work
Alternative title: "En tiedä mitä en tiedä" : tiedonkulku ilman informaalia viestintää : COVID-19 pandemian ja etätyön aiheuttamat muutokset
Author: Toivonen, Kia
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Valtiotieteellinen tiedekunta
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences
Helsingfors universitet, Statsvetenskapliga fakulteten
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2021
Language: eng
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-202110063855
http://hdl.handle.net/10138/334999
Thesis level: master's thesis
Degree program: Globaalin politiikan ja kommunikaation maisteriohjelma
Master's Programme in Global Politics and Communication
Magisterprogrammet i global politik och kommunikation
Specialisation: Governance, Organizations and Communication
Governance, Organizations and Communication
Governance, Organizations and Communication
Abstract: The purpose of this research is to study how informal communication and information flow changed when the COVID-19 pandemic forced many organizations to transfer from working at the office to remote work at home. In the pre-pandemic world, informal communication occurred at the workplace on a daily basis, thus creating more opportunities for information exchange, whereas in the present, the new remote work mode has erased informal communication from the equation nearly completely. This research studies how the flow of information was impacted by the sudden lack of informal communication, and whether these changes were seen in the basic workflow of organization members. The study is conducted in collaboration with CSC – ICT Center for Science Ltd. Qualitative semi-structured interviews were used as the research method in this study. All interviewees worked in specialist positions, and the sample represented all units in CSC. The interviews were analyzed with qualitative content analysis, which was based on the coding frame built on themes that arose in the interviews. Such themes were meetings, silos, communicational environment and information flow. The results show that without informal communication, the organization members do not have as good of a comprehension of the organization’s projects and daily operation as they did before the pandemic. Furthermore, the individuals’ informal communication networks have reduced during the pandemic, and they no longer communicate with anyone who they do not work with consistently. The reduced communication network and informal communication have impacted the information flow to have become more formal and focused on the substance at hand. Information has become more difficult to access without informal communication to maintain an understanding of who works with what information. The results are corresponding with what is known by previous research. However, this study elaborates more on not only the relationship between informal communication and information sharing, but also on how the dynamics of that relationship works in a changing environment. Without informal communication, individuals are unaware of the information that is flowing elsewhere in the organization. This creates uncertainty and feelings of missing out on potentially relevant information.
Subject: informal communication
information flow
online communication
remote work
organization


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