“It became clear that managers felt that there were imitations and difficulties in, for instance, overseeing the working environment of employees who work remotely,” Linda Widar says.
“What can I ask about?”
Managers expressed that it was difficult to gain insight into the psychosocial working environment when employees were working environment remotely. This became evident during the pandemic when many employees’ well-being was affected negatively by working from home in isolation.
Managers felt uncertain if they had the right to ask questions like: how are things at home?; how are you feeling?; are there problems with the working environment at home? As a result, managers found it hard to find a good way of giving support remotely.
Employees more positive
In a previous study, conducted before the pandemic, Linda Widar focused on the employees’ opinions about working remotely. In general, they were positive to this opportunity to be flexible. People with a heavy workload could perform their work tasks more easily and efficiently without being disturbed.
“In general, employees proved to have a more positive attitude than the managers.”
Managers differ regarding the future
However, the study shows that managers differ regarding the future of teleworking. Some saw the ongoing digitalisation of work as natural and necessary, predicting that it would mean an increase in the efficiency of the operations, while making it easier to recruit and perform certain types of work tasks.
Other were hesitant about allowing employees to work remotely to a high degree, as managers found it difficult to perform leadership duties such as giving support and managing the employees’ working environment.
As digitalisation increases in society, Linda Widar sees it as vital to note that managers may feel insecure and may lack resources needed to be the leaders they want to be when employees are working remotely.
“Moreover, we can see that in many organisations, there are inequalities when it comes to digital competence. This means that resources may not be up to speed with the current phase of development, which needs to be considered in various ways,” Linda Widar concludes.
Text: Douglas Öhrbom
Photo Linda Widar: Private