New research shows changes in remote working
During the Coronavirus pandemic, many workplaces switched to remote working, which entailed many challenges both for employees and managers. In 2021, a study was conducted at MDU about the groups' experiences, which showed in particular that we have become more productive during remote working. We now have the results of a follow-up study for 2022, which shows several changes.
The study was conducted through questionnaires in four different organisations and with the help of SIQ (the Swedish Institute for Quality) which disseminated the survey through its channels, during the spring of 2021 and the spring of 2022. The report that has now been presented compares the 2022 results with reference values from before the pandemic and differences between 2021 and 2022.
The study was conducted by Adesuwa Omorede, Senior Lecturer, and Rachael Tripney Berglund, doctoral student at MDU, and was financed by AFA Försäkring. Adesuwa Omorede mentions some of the biggest differences between 2021 and 2022 as follows:
“Working remotely decreased from 36-40 hours a week in 2021 to 16-20 hours a week during April to May 2022. Before the pandemic, the average was 1–5 hours a week.”
According to Rachael Tripney Berglund, none of the measurement points in this year's survey were better than in 2021 and a large number were similar. However, several aspects have become worse, including:
- Social support from the immediate manager
- Job satisfaction
- Virtual attendance when sick increased from 51 percent in 2021 to 69 percent in 2022
"We can also see that self-rated health, i.e. your experience of how you feel, and the emotional demands, have deteriorated in comparison between 2021 and 2022.”
“However, we can see improvements in the fact that work during your free time has decreased. Furthermore, there have been improvements in how remote working functions in 2022, compared to how it was before the pandemic (2020),” Rachael Tripney Berglund points out and highlights the following aspects:
- Changing requirements regarding time pressure, the amount and the pace of work
- Better quality of leadership
- Better work-life balance
- Greater influence over your work situation
- Lower degree of burnout
The researchers' top five pieces of advice to employers about remote working:
- The systematic work environment efforts must cover work environment conditions both at home and at the workplace.
- The employer needs to map the risks in the work environment, evaluate whether they involve a high or low risk of injury and ill-health, address the risks and follow up that they have had the intended effect together with the safety representative and employees.
- In addition to risk management, the employer must create a good work environment, which also includes remote working.
- Employers can also discuss the requirements in the Act on Systematic Work Environment Management with their safety representatives and employees and talk about how to work together to fulfil the law when work is conducted at home, at the workplace and in the boundary hybrid format between both.
- Dare to assess new ways of working and adjust them until you have found a way of working that works for you and contributes to a good work environment.
The researchers' top three pieces of advice to employees about remote working:
- Make sure that you as an employee actively participate in the systematic work environment efforts.
- Point out risks and shortcomings to your immediate manager.
- Contribute with suggestions for solutions that you then evaluate together with your employer/manager.