• Working from Home During Covid-19: Doing and Managing Technology-enabled Social Interaction With Colleagues at a Distance

      Lal, Banita; Dwivedi, Y.K.; Haag, M. (2021)
      With the overnight growth in Working from Home (WFH) owing to the pandemic, organisations and their employees have had to adapt work-related processes and practices quickly with a huge reliance upon technology. Everyday activities such as social interactions with colleagues must therefore be reconsidered. Existing literature emphasises that social interactions, typically conducted in the traditional workplace, are a fundamental feature of social life and shape employees' experience of work. This experience is completely removed for many employees due to the pandemic and, presently, there is a lack of knowledge on how individuals maintain social interactions with colleagues via technology when working from home. Given that a lack of social interaction can lead to social isolation and other negative repercussions, this study aims to contribute to the existing body of literature on remote working by highlighting employees' experiences and practices around social interaction with colleagues. This study takes an interpretivist and qualitative approach utilising the diary-keeping technique to collect data from twenty-nine individuals who had started to work from home on a full-time basis as a result of the pandemic. The study explores how participants conduct social interactions using different technology platforms and how such interactions are embedded in their working lives. The findings highlight the difficulty in maintaining social interactions via technology such as the absence of cues and emotional intelligence, as well as highlighting numerous other factors such as job uncertainty, increased workloads and heavy usage of technology that affect their work lives. The study also highlights that despite the negative experiences relating to working from home, some participants are apprehensive about returning to work in the traditional office place where social interactions may actually be perceived as a distraction. The main contribution of our study is to highlight that a variety of perceptions and feelings of how work has changed via an increased use of digital media while working from home exists and that organisations need to be aware of these differences so that they can be managed in a contextualised manner, thus increasing both the efficiency and effectiveness of working from home.