Go to eugreenalliance

Research programme: Flexible Work

Flexible Work is a research programme that aims to explore the opportunities and challenges of new forms of work and employment in modern working life.

Working flexibly – opportunity or challenge?

Working remotely or having flexible working hours. Having temporary employment or working for a staffing company. How do these affect the health of employees and are they good for organisations’ sustainability? What does it mean for working conditions and the work environment? And what new demands are being made on employers and managers? Do new ways of working and policies need to be developed?

Flexibility in time and space

In Sweden today, around 2/3 of employees have flexible or unrestricted working hours. Moreover, more than a third can work from home to varying degrees. For the individual, there is an opportunity to find a better balance between work and private life but there is also a risk that the flexibility turns into boundaryless availability and reduced control of one’s life. For employers, offering flexible working conditions can increase their attractiveness as employers, as well as offering the ability to adapt during periods of fluctuating demands in their activities. There are also new challenges in terms of work environment responsibility and how the work should be organised and coordinated.

Temporary employment

About 15% of employees in Sweden have temporary employment. Fewer than 2% are also employed by staffing companies. Both of these forms of employment can mean flexibility for employers and the opportunity to quickly adapt to changes in both the public and private sectors. Such forms of employment can also provide greater flexibility for some employees. However most people in temporary jobs want a permanent job and staffing company employees often want a traditional permanent job with the same employer.

Collaborating organisations

The research is conducted in collaboration with private and public sector organisations. Results are used to develop operational policies for flexible work or other measures promoting a good work environment.

Information material

Information material that is linked to the Flexible Work research programme can be found here. The material is available in both Swedish and English.

The impact of remote working on health

Watch a lecture given by Linda Widar on the impact of remote working on health, recorded in collaboration with SVT/UR

The use of digital technology gives us the opportunity and freedom to work remotely from places other than our normal place of work, but what could remote working mean for our health and the work environment?

Webinar on Sustainable Remote Working

The Swedish Agency for Work Environment Expertise, together with the Work Environment Authority and labour market stakeholders, organised a webinar on sustainable remote working. One of the speakers was Professor Gunnar Bergström on the following subject: Health, the work environment and work performance with remote working from home.

See the webinar here

About the Flexible Work research programme

Facts about the research programme


The aim of the “Flexible Work” research programme is to describe and understand possible connections between flexible forms of employment and work and (1) organisational sustainability, (2) working conditions and the work environment, and (3) employees’ health. Are there differences depending on sector, different occupational areas, age, gender and socio-economic status?

Target group

We are targeting both private and public sector organisations. Participation involves collaboration between the organisation and the research group at the University of Gävle. Participation does not involve any extra costs for the organisation other than time spent at planning meetings and in participating in measurements and data collection on the work environment.

Project members

Gunnar Bergström, professor (programme head, occupational health sciences)

David Hallman, senior lecturer (coordinator, researcher, occupational health sciences)

Sven Svensson, senior lecturer (researcher, occupational health sciences)

Marina Heiden, senior lecturer (researcher, occupational health sciences)

Svend Erik Mathiassen, professor (researcher, occupational health sciences)

Iman Dadgar, postdoctoral researcher

Patricia Holmberg, amanuens

Leticia Januario, researcher

Andreas Kjörling, PhD student

Tea Korkeakunnas, PhD student

Nestor Lögdal, PhD Student

Jean Claude Mutiganda, senior lecturer

Annika Strömberg, senior lecturer

Malin Svensson, research assistant

Birgitta Wiitavaara, senior lecturer


  • Edvinsson, J., Mathiassen, S., Bjärntoft, S., Jahncke, H., Hartig, T. & Hallman, D. (2023). A Work Time Control Tradeoff in Flexible Work: Competitive Pathways to Need for Recovery. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 20 (1). 10.3390/ijerph20010691 [Mer information]
  • Mutiganda, J., Wiitavaara, B., Heiden, M., Svensson, S., Fagerström, A., Bergström, G. & Aboagye, E. (2022). A systematic review of the research on telework and organizational economic performance indicators. Frontiers in Psychology, 13. 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.1035310
  • Svensson, S., Mathiassen, S., Hallman, D., Heiden, M. & Bergström, G. (2022). Associations between telework experience and psychosocial working conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic: A cross-sectional analysis among white-collar workers in Sweden. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 10.1097/JOM.0000000000002758 [Mer information]
  • Svensson, S., Hallman, D., Mathiassen, S., Heiden, M., Fagerström, A., Mutiganda, J. & Bergström, G. (2022). Flexible work: Opportunity and Challenge (FLOC) for individual, social and economic sustainability. Protocol for a prospective cohort study of non-standard employment and flexible work arrangements in Sweden. BMJ Open, 12 (7). 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-057409 [Mer information]
  • Widar, L., Heiden, M., Boman, E. & Wiitavaara, B. (2022). How is telework experienced in academia?. Sustainability, 14 (10). 10.3390/su14105745 [Mer information]
  • Gilson, N., Coenen, P., Hallman, D., Holtermann, A., Mathiassen, S. & Straker, L. (2022). Postpandemic hybrid work: opportunities and challenges for physical activity and public health. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 56 (21), 1203-1204. 10.1136/bjsports-2022-105664 [Mer information]
  • Bjärntoft, S., Hallman, D., Zetterberg, C., Larsson, J., Edvinsson, J. & Jahncke, H. (2021). A participatory approach to identify key areas for sustainable work environment and health in employees with flexible work arrangements. Sustainability, 13 (24). 10.3390/su132413593 [Mer information]
  • Widar, L., Wiitavaara, B., Boman, E. & Heiden, M. (2021). Psychophysiological reactivity, postures and movements among academic staff : A comparison between teleworking days and office days. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18 (18). 10.3390/ijerph18189537 [Mer information]
  • Hallman, D., Januario, L., Mathiassen, S., Heiden, M., Svensson, S. & Bergström, G. (2021). Working from home during the COVID-19 outbreak in Sweden: effects on 24-h time-use in office workers. BMC Public Health, 21. 10.1186/s12889-021-10582-6
  • Heiden, M., Widar, L., Wiitavaara, B. & Boman, E. (2021). Telework in academia: associations with health and well-being among staff. Higher Education, 81, 707-722
  • Bjärntoft, S., Hallman, D., Mathiassen, S. E., Larsson, J. & Jahncke, H. (2020). Occupational and individual determinants of work-life balance among office workers with flexible work arrangements. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(4), Article ID 1418.


This research is funded by a programme grant from the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare (FORTE). Additional funding has also been received from Afa försäkring.

Programme responsibility

Feel free to contact us for more information.

Gunnar Bergström

Professor Occupational Health Sciences

E-mail: gunnar.bergstrom@hig.se
Phone: + 46 73-622 58 60

Researcher presentation Gunnar Bergström

Foto av Daniel Hallman

David Hallman

Associate Professor Occupational Health Sciences

E-mail: david.hallman@hig.se
Phone: + 46 26-64 84 39

Researcher presentation David Hallman

Published by: Camilla Haglund Page responsible: Johan Edqvist Updated: 2023-07-03
Högskolan i Gävle
Box 801 76 GÄVLE
026-64 85 00 (växel)