Personal Social Networks, Technology Skills, and Worker Performance Under Telework



With the recent, sweeping transition to remote work arrangements, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, work-place peer-support mechanisms have grown strained, fostering concerns about professional isolation, the long-run implications for worker performance. In this study, we consider that potential remote workers may substitute workplace peer support with support from personal social networks, outside of the organization. Drawing on a novel, large and granular dataset that incorporates worker earnings, employment relationships, demographics, family-connections, educational backgrounds and employers' remote work practices, for 400,000 Portuguese workers, we estimate that partner technology expertise has significant spillover benefits for a worker's wages following a shift to remote-work. Specifically, we estimate that the wage return from spousal technology skills was approximately 75% of the wage return from own technology skills. We demonstrate the robustness of our findings to alternative explanations and measures, and we discuss the implications of our findings for firms, remote workers and society.

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