In times of change: How distance managers can ensure employees’ wellbeing and organizational performance

Signe Poulsen, Christine Ipsen

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    Organizations develop and adapt to societal changes and technological developments, where one consequence is that dispersed workers are more common than never before. It is difficult to ensure employee wellbeing and performance, when separating managers from employees by either time or geography. This paper explores the wellbeing of employees doing distance work, and examines the practices of the distance manager aimed at ensuring employee wellbeing and organizational performance. The pilot study use a case study approach in four organizations with qualitative interviews of distance managers
    and employees. The study show both positive and negative aspects of distance work. Positively, the employees find distance work to be professionally challenging and they feel they make a difference in their work. On the negative side is the feeling of loneliness and frustrations about lack of communication. The analysis of distance managers’ practices showed that they used both activities and capabilities in order to ensure employee wellbeing and organizational performance. The activities included planning, newsletters, and surveys, and the capabilities were to listen, create and show trust, and give authority to the employees. Contrary to previous findings on motivating of knowledge workers, our findings show that motivation, surprisingly, is ensured when focusing on the basic needs such as working conditions and belongingness.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalSafety Science
    Issue numberPart A
    Pages (from-to)37-45
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


    • Distance managemet
    • Case study
    • Qualitative
    • Knowledge work
    • Virtual organizations

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