Remote work contributes to a better work-life balance2021-11-08
Diana Kalfas and Pål Lassen, both students at the Human Resource Management and Work Life study programme at Karlstad Business School, have won an award for their bachelor thesis Employees' experiences of Work-Life Balance and forced telework as a result of a pandemic.
What was the aim of your bachelor thesis?
- An increased understanding regarding employee’s experiences of work-life balance and forced remote work - in short, an increased understanding of how remote work affect the work-life balance, says Diana Kalfas. We wanted to increase the knowledge of employee’s experiences of strategies for separating working life and personal life.
- We chose this subject partly because the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in remote work being the new way of working for many people all over the world, and partly because there was a lack of research on non-voluntary remote work, says Pål Lassen.
Work-life balance is a problem for everyone who works, and it will always be a relevant subject, as the demands in both working life and personal life are always increasing. Beyond the fact that work-life balance is brought up in their studies, both Diana Kalfas and Pål Lassen think that this is a very relevant subject.
- Both of us have families and two children each, so we often feel that it is hard to find the right balance between the different spheres in life. We both agree that it is hard not to feel inadequate and that there is not enough time. We are both parents, students, employees and we have our own interests. This makes it tough to find the right balance.
How did you conduct your study?
- We have used a quantitative approach in our choice of method and the empirical materials have been collected via ten online interviews, says Diana Kalfas. The respondents in our study are public officials within Karlstad municipality, who have worked remotely during a period of at least three months.
What were your findings?
- The conclusion of the study is that the forced remote work is contributing to a better work-life balance, explains Pål Lassen. There are several benefits of remote work. For example more flexibility and freedom, as well as freeing up more time. People experience and improvement in the personal life as a result of the remote work due to the coronavirus pandemic. All respondents say that there are more benefits than drawbacks with this way of working, which makes them want to continue working remotely to a certain degree even after the pandemic.
Employees use different strategies to varying degrees, in order to try and separate work life from personal life. Diana and Pål have noted that the spatial separation has the most significance. It is important for many people to have a separate work place and adaptations for time and family members are also seen as useful strategies for creating boundaries. The study also shows that people fluctuate between setting clear boundaries between work and personal life, and sometimes less distinct boundaries. This fluctuation can be seen as a strategy for improving the work-life balance.
Your bachelor thesis won an award - what is behind the success?
- We spent a lot of time and energy on our bachelor thesis, says Diana Kalfas. We believe that hard work pays off and thanks to a great supervisor we could develop further over time. As the topic is very up-to-date, our research felt relevant and current.
- We have also been good at analysing our work critically, which could also be a contributing factor, says Pål Lassen.
You must also have been working from home in the last year - did you identify with your findings?
- Yes, we agree that remote work has several benefits which can improve the work-life balance. Just as the respondents in our study stated, the personal life has improved as a result of the remote work due to the coronavirus pandemic. We also agree that the most significant strategy is spatial separation. We think that it is important to have quiet work place at home where you can work without being disturbed.