The effects of working from home on informal knowledge sharing within management consulting firms
Informal knowledge sharing is an essential part of organizational knowledge sharing practices and is vital for its competitiveness, which emphasizes the need for and importance of being able to capture and share this knowledge. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced many companies to establish new ways of working, including digital transformations where employees have worked fully or partially from home. As informal knowledge sharing is characterized by spontaneous interactions between colleagues such as by the coffee machine or by the work-desk, the likelihood of it being affected is high. Therefore, the purpose of this thesis is to investigate in what ways the working from home situation during the pandemic has affected informal knowledge sharing within management consulting firms. The study combines previous literature on informal knowledge sharing with empirical findings through eight semi-structured interviews conducted to capture individual perceptions of the affects on these theoretical enablers. The semi-structured interviews, combined with a literature review, formed the basis for the conclusions. When selecting interviewees, predefined criteria were used which resulted in eight interviews from three different companies, in total. The findings from the literature review and the interviews were later compared with each other through the usage of thematic analysis. The findings suggest that working from home affects informal knowledge sharing by impacting activities of informal knowledge sharing in several ways; Through formalized and limiting communication via digital tools; Deteriorated knowledge sharing culture; Decreased overall communication; Weaker team cohesiveness; Weaker motivations and decreased trust. The empirical findings also show that the studied companies displayed an increased formalization of informal knowledge sharing activities, and that employees work in a more isolated environment when working from home. The study contributes to the relatively unexplored research topic of informal knowledge sharing in remote settings by providing deeper understanding of affects to knowledge sharing enablers of informal knowledge sharing when working remotely.
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