Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, employees and enterprises in Greece were forced to shift to telework aka remote working.
While in some EU countries, over 30% of employees worked outside their employers’ premises before the pandemic, in Greece the percentage was one of the lowest (5.3%), comprising mainly self-employed individuals and exhibiting discrepancies depending on industry and profession. Although the forced shift to teleworking caught employers and employees by surprise, it served as a first-class opportunity for the acquisition of relevant skills and experience, as well as the realization of its advantages and disadvantages. Research on the perceptions of employees about teleworking shows that a significant percentage of them would like to continue working remotely to some extent even after the pandemic. In our country, in a recent study by Pulse RC on behalf of Socialdoo, 30% of respondents mentioned that they would prefer to continue working from home even after the pandemic has ended.
Considering the advantages of telework for employees, enterprises, and society (e.g. work flexibility, work-life balance, reduced commuting time and costs, recruiting and retention of talented employees, uninterrupted operation, reduction in fixed operation and maintenance costs, increased employment opportunities for special population groups, reduction in traffic and air pollution), it is estimated that increased percentages of telework will persist after the pandemic. Research indicates that has a positive impact on employee productivity and satisfaction, while offering employees flexibility of location may be highly beneficial for enterprises in the post-pandemic era.
Because shifting to telework happened abruptly and without the required preparation, enterprises and employees need to be aware of the potential negative consequences of telework, which include:
- Social/working isolation of employees due to the lack of contact and informal relations with their coworkers, especially for those teleworking regularly.
- Inability to control the location and duration of work, which may lead to doubts as to the legal character of telework as a form of permanent employment or result in the encroachment on employees’ rights (e.g. leaves, holidays, overtime).
- Confusion and blurring of the limits between professional and private life, with consequences on mental and physical health.
- Burdening of employees with their enterprises’ operational costs (e.g. utility costs, etc.)
- Managerial control with the use of new technologies may end up in a form of electronic surveillance, which can violate the limits of employees’ private lives.
- Working conditions outside the work environment, which may be inappropriate for work (presence of family members, lack of resources, means and suitable work conditions in general).
Enterprises can maximize the benefits and minimize the possible negative consequences of telework, by investing in the necessary technologies and equipment, data security, and the acquisition of relevant skills.
It is also suggested that telework is on a volunteer basis and not imposed on employees, while an important prerequisite for productive teleworking is the appropriate supervisor training. Research shows that telework requires different supervision skills from those that apply to the traditional work environment, with emphasis on building trustful employee-supervisor relationships, on control and frequent feedback based on measurable results, and on respecting employees’ autonomy and flexibility. Lastly, alternating telework (partly at home, partly at the office) significantly reduces the possibility of employees experiencing social and work isolation and reinforces the enterprises’ efforts to create and maintain their corporate culture.
- Εθνικό Ινστιτούτο Εργασίας και Ανθρώπινου Δυναμικού (2020). Θεματικό Δελτίο Ενημέρωσης Νο 3.
- Οικονομική και Κοινωνική Επιτροπή της Ελλάδος (2020). Γνώμη πρωτοβουλίας. Τηλεργασία: προβλήματα και προοπτικές.
- Carillo, Κ., Cachat-Rosset, Γ., Marsan, J., Sabe, T., & Klarsfeld, A. (2021) Adjusting to epidemic-induced telework: empirical insights from teleworkers in France, European Journal of Information Systems.
- Eurofound (2020), Living, working and COVID-19. COVID-19 series.
- Kim, T., Mullins, L.B., & Yoon, T. (2012). Supervision of telework: A key to organizational performance. American Review of Public Administration.
- Felstead, A., & Reuschke, D. (2020). Homeworking in the UK: before and during the 2020 lockdown. WISERD Report.