Executive summary in english
08 Fév 2023
Reconciling productivity and well-being, the managerial challenge of telework
The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a significant rise in the practice of telework, particularly in France where it has now become widespread among white collar workers. This recent development shows there is a real need to analyze its implications and impact on employees, and on the functioning of organizations.
Those who generally support telework would say that it has many advantages for both well-being and productivity. Can this assumption be justified? To answer this question, we begin with an in-depth literature review. It appears that the available research does not provide enough data to cover all of the achievable arrangements between performance and well-being.
The difficulty in approaching this subject comes from the fact that teleworking covers a wide range of dimensions (workplace, lifetime, technology, individual commitment, collective functioning, etc.). The interaction between all of these dimensions is complex, and often we tend to examine independently. Nonetheless, we recognize the contribution of one-dimensional research, and in order to avoid falling into a ‘patchy’ analysis of the phenomenon, we engaged with ‘typical’ employee situations, making it possible to highlight a wide range of teleworking circumstances.
To identify these, we conducted an online survey, collecting in total 1631 responses. The results were nuanced, showing a range of diversity in the answers linked to the dimension of both wellbeing and performance. The analysis made it possible to distinguish four groups of individuals with homogeneous perceptions of their well-being and their productivity in teleworking: « the indifferent », « the adapted productive”, « the efficient » and “the adapted less productive « .
Perceptions of well-being and productivity during telework do not vary significantly according to traditional socio-demographic variables (sex, function, sector of activity and region), with the exception of age. Those aged under 30 have a paradoxical characteristic with regards to productivity in teleworking: they are over-represented both among the efficient and among the less productive adapted ones. Therefore, the classification used invites nuanced approaches, changing according to individual profiles.
Finally, we propose a grid for analysis to suggest practical next steps and lessons learned from the study.