MTB Group Seminar Series: Motivation and productivity in times of Covid-19: a mathematical model

Date: Fri, Sep 17 2021

Hour: 14:00

Speakers: José Fernando Fontanari


Whereas the economic consequences of the physical distancing measures to control the transmission of Covid-19 are already well known to all of us, their effects on people's mental well-being and the subsequent influence on work productivity are largely unknown. In this seminar, we introduce an agent-based model of a workplace where the mood (motivation to work) improves when the agent is socializing and deteriorates when it is working. No work is done during socialization and the productivity of a working agent is an increasing function of its mood. Moreover, low motivated agents seek company and high motivated agents focus on work. We find that decrease of frequency or quality of the social interactions lead the agents to enter a burnout regime where their motivations diverge to negative infinity, with the consequent vanishing of productivity. This mental breakdown regime is separated from a healthy regime, where the motivation to work is finite, by a continuous phase transition. Since the fraction of working agents, which is the only observable quantity in our model, changes continuously at the transition point it is nearly impossible to perceive the proximity to the burnout regime. The simulation results are described very well by a simple mean-field approximation. Our findings highlight the need of quantitative approaches to study the interplay between mood, behavior and productivity.

Link to the session:


Group of Theoretical Physics FCI, Sáo Paulo University, Brazil

Confirmed speakers:

José Fernando Fontanari