Social Capital and Hybrid-Remote Work in Danish Public Counties

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Introduction: National and international studies show that the national COVID-19 lockdowns have provided various benefits to employees working from home (WFH). As a result, managers and employees across the world have expressed a desire for increased flexibility and ability to work from home (WFH)/anywhere (WFA) generating a hybrid workplace. Some workplaces have already taken the first steps and introduced full or partial use of WFH and virtual teams. In Denmark, both the majority of managers and employees view the increased use of hybrid work post Covid-19 positively. In the public sector in Denmark, different approaches to flexibility and WFH/A are currently (fall 2021) being tested in public counties and district councils. Some of the key drivers are reduction of office costs and improved employee wellbeing. Trust and justice – social capital – are drivers of wellbeing and performance. However, trust and justice are formed though close collaboration and (perhaps) physical proximity is a necessary precondition to contribute to social capital. Thus, WFH and WFA may change the dynamics of how trust and justice are formed and may even result in a deterioration with negative consequences for wellbeing and performance. The aim of this study is to explore how public servants experience(d) the social capital during and post the COVID-19 pandemic and what to bring forward in the hybrid workplace.

Method: This 3-year study applies a mixed methods approach to explore the experiences of the public hybrid workplace and expand our understanding of social capital in a hybrid workplace setting. To achieve this, the study initially collected national experiences from the public servants’ union representatives from the 98 Danish Councils. Applying the principles of the FishBone Workshop, all 90 (103 could have participated) participants were asked to identify the positive experiences of WFH/A during the pandemic. Their focus should be on the issues and experiences among the people they represented. When listed, the participants mapped the issues on a prepared FishBone chart. Then followed a similar step of identifying the straining experiences and map the issues on a separate FishBone chart. The research team subsequently worked with all fishbone charts to get an overall picture of the issues across the fishbone charts. This process involved developing a thematic heading to each side bone.

Results: The outcome of the FishBone Workshop shows that the participants had both positive and negative experiences during the FishBone Workshop. The first thematic analysis shows that quietness, immersion, flexibility, efficiency, trust, and mastery were good experiences. Examples of negative experiences are boundaries between work and home, loneliness, sensing colleagues’ wellbeing, ergonomics, and difficult conversations. The next phase in the analysis is to cluster all themes into overall themes, as these will guide the qualitative part of the study in the following in-depth case studies in three public councils which will be conducted from 2022. The preliminary results will be presented at the conference.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceeding of the 15th EAOHP Conference
Publication date2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Event15th European Academy of Occupational Health Psychology Conference - University of Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France
Duration: 6 Jul 20228 Jul 2022
Conference number: 15


Conference15th European Academy of Occupational Health Psychology Conference
LocationUniversity of Bordeaux
Internet address


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