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Managers and employees differ on teleworking


New research shows that managers find it difficult to gain insight into the psychosocial working environment of employees who work remotely.

“For this reason, managers find it hard to find good ways of supporting employees who work remotely,” says Linda Widar researcher on teleworking and well-being at University of Gävle.

Teleworking  Photo: Anna Sällberg

Teleworking Photo: Anna Sällberg

The fact that there are differences in the experiences managers and employees have of teleworking is a conclusion that Linda Widar draws from the results of a new study about managers as well as a previous one on employees.

Linda WIdar

Linda WIdar

“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.

The study

Text: Douglas Öhrbom
Photo Linda Widar: Private


Linda Widar, affiliated researcher in occupational health sciences at University of Gävle
Phone: 070-208 41 86
E-mail: linda.widar@hig.se

Published by: Douglas Öhrbom Page responsible: Anders Munck Updated: 2022-11-14
Högskolan i Gävle
Box 801 76 GÄVLE
026-64 85 00 (växel)