Managers' challenges and opportunities in remote working during the first wave of COVID-19

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School of Business | Master's thesis
Degree programme
Information and Service Management (ISM)
COVID-19 has introduced a unique challenge for organizational management. Since the Finnish government made a recommendations for organizations to work remotely, many employees had to shift their work from offices to home in the Spring 2020. There is a need for organizations to consider if they should keep working remotely as an option for their employees even after the pandemic and therefore this topic should be further studied. The objective of this qualitative study is to explore how managers in SMEs have experienced the remote working during COVID-19. This is done by building a theoretical framework from previous literature and comparing it with the questionnaire data gotten from the FutuRemote research project which is concentrating on the disruption of knowledge work caused by the pandemic. This study aims to answer to following research questions: (1) ”What kinds of challenges did managers face when shifting to remote working during the beginning of COVID-19 crisis?”, (2) ”What did managers find rewarding when shifting to remote working?” and (3) ”Which background variables affect the experienced challenges and opportunities?” The data used consists of the responses of 209 managers working in SMEs located in Finland. The data is analyzed in a thematic analysis which is done by coding the responses with Atlas.ti. The data is divided to 4 main categories and 14 subcategories. The challenges and opportunities found in this thesis are mostly in line with previous literature. The study confirms that both challenges and opportunities are experienced in remote work related to work-life interface, leadership, communication and working conditions. Some findings can be linked to the special features of the pandemic situation. For example, many workers had their families staying at home which lead to a greater role conflict and even ambivalence in how they perceived the situation.
Thesis advisor
Mallat, Niina
Vartiainen, Matti
COVID-19, leadership, SMEs, remote work
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