Virtual well-being: Fostering well-being in post-pandemic remote work

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School of Business | Master's thesis
Degree programme
International Design Business Management
Remote work has undergone a drastic change in recent years, as the COVID-19 pandemic has shown remote work to be a more accessible means of working than previously thought. Yet, despite a wide variety of benefits, as high-intensity remote work has become more common than ever, many implications for employee well-being need to be reassessed in light of this new context. Reviewing existing research on remote work and utilizing the self-determination theory (SDT) in tandem with the job demands-resources theory (JD-R) as theoretical lenses, the purpose of this thesis is to build understanding of post-pandemic remote work and reveal the ways in which it provides newfound opportunities and imposes demands for employees. This thesis approaches the influence of post-pandemic remote work on employee well-being through semi-structured interviews (n=8) to shed light on the experiences of Finnish remote workers, along with relevant contextual factors. Analysis of the research findings is done using reflexive thematic analysis, with themes developed primarily in an inductive fashion. Subsequently, results are linked to existing literature on remote work and observed through the theoretical frameworks of SDT and JD-R. Drawing from the experiences of interview participants, this thesis reveals newfound challenges relating to the increased frequency of widespread remote work. Whereas remote work has equipped employees with an abundance of autonomy and flexibility to organize work, it has simultaneously contributed to the intensification of work, imposing greater demands for self-organization and risking strain for many employees. Common ways of working around remote work remain ambiguous for many, with organizational support for remote work being perceived as relatively scarce. Furthermore, as post-pandemic remote work has decreased the availability and quality of workplace social interaction, there is a dire need for mitigating risks of isolation and detachment from the workplace, with mediated communication seemingly unable to act as a substitute for face-to-face social interaction. This thesis adds to the growing body of research on post-pandemic remote work, while providing practical recommendations for organizations to address its challenges in a fashion that aims to nurture the individual needs and well-being of employees in a sustainable fashion.
Thesis advisor
Diehl, Marjo-Riitta
remote work, employee well-being, covid-19, self-determination theory (SDT), job demands-resources (JD-R)
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