Exploring Managerial Job Demands and Resources in Transition to Distance Management: A Qualitative Danish Case Study

Nelda Andersone, Giulia Nardelli, Christine Ipsen, Kasper Edwards

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Organizations worldwide have shifted to working from home, requiring managers to engage in distance management using information and communication technologies (ICT). Studies show that managers experience high job demands and inadequate guidance during COVID-19; therefore, the transition to distance management raises questions about the increase in managerial job demands and the impact on managers’ well-being. This study aims to explore first-line managers’ perceptions of job demands and available resources during the first year of the pandemic and understand the implications for first-line managers’ well-being. First-line managers face complex and conflicting demands, making them more challenged in their management task than other management levels. We used the job demands–resources model in this qualitative, longitudinal empirical study. The study draws on 49 semi-structured interviews with seven first-line managers from a large pharmaceutical company in Denmark, whom we followed throughout the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, from May 2020 to May 2021. Our findings suggest that the first-line managers perceived increased emotional and practical demands. While the managers appreciated the initial guidance provided by the organization, they perceived the organizational support as outdated and superficial.

As a result, to cope with the uncertainty caused by the pandemic and the shift to distance management, the managers relied on work engagement enablers such as social support. Even though the COVID-19 pandemic portrays unique circumstances in transitioning to distance management that require further exploration outside the COVID-19 context, the insights from this study can assist organizations in developing awareness about transitions to better support first-line management to embrace changes in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Article number69
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Number of pages29
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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