Transitioning to Remote Work: The Impact of Changes on Job Satisfaction

Aníta Einarsdóttir & Gudridur Osk Jonsdottir

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

With increased interest in virtual work and distance management following the Covid-19 pandemic, transitioning to a virtual workplace has been the reality for many companies. The disruptive change due to the pandemic has had a tremendous effect on both employees and management. However, the importance of satisfied and happy employees is well established in the existing literature without considering a disruptive, rapid outside influence such as the pandemic. When transforming an established organization to become a mainly virtual workplace, the changes that occur are manifold and can significantly affect employees and their job satisfaction. This study explores what changes are significant to employees and how these changes subsequently affect their job satisfaction. By performing in-depth interviews, analysis of autophotography, and an online questionnaire, the case company Navitrans was investigated to get hands-on knowledge and primary data about the prevailing situation at the company. Navitrans has recently moved all operations online and is thus an interesting case to explore the research problem at hand. The findings clearly demonstrate three main themes of changes that are impactful to Navitrans’ employees: Decreased Social Interaction at Work, Increased Flexibility and Autonomy, and Initiatives from Management. The decreased social interaction is evidently the biggest dissatisfier for employees, while people are split rather equally when looking at the importance and effect of initiatives from management. Increased flexibility and autonomy on the other hand have a positive effect on most employees’ job satisfaction, but it is far from everyone who sees the benefits it provides. Organizations must be aware of the personal fit between employees and the job description of remote work. Even though research has shown that flexibility is a great advantage of virtual work, it might not fit all personas or lifestyles to have increased flexibility. Leaders should, therefore, be careful when promoting the benefits of increased flexibility and autonomy. Moreover, management needs to provide clear guidance throughout the transitioning to a virtual workplace to avoid unmotivated and frustrated employees. Hiring designated change managers or teams to lead the change can be highly beneficial. The study reveals that the decrease in social interaction is the biggest dissatisfier for employees. Management must therefore emphasize offering employees remote alternatives in the form of virtual gatherings and events along with encouraging online communities, for improving relationships and social interaction among employees.

EducationsMSocSc in Organisational Innovation and Entrepreneurship , (Graduate Programme) Final ThesisCand.merc. Customer and Commercial Development, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2021
Number of pages258