17 August 2020
Press release 28/2020
“It seems like remote work and the increased time spent with family members have had a positive effect on work and working mood,” says Jari Hakanen, Research Professor at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.
“However, these changes are rather small. Perhaps unexpectedly, work engagement improved the most among respondents with school-age or younger children.”
This survey did not reveal changes related to overall well-being or mental health over the examination period.
Mixed experiences with remote work – new challenges for supervisors
Due to the coronavirus situation, remote work became increasingly common in the spring. In the survey, 42 per cent of respondents reported that they had worked remotely more often due to the coronavirus epidemic, and 36 per cent had worked remotely at least three-fourths of their total working time.
Although the majority of these respondents had positive experiences of increased remote work, some reported increased feelings of boredom and job dissatisfaction.
Remote work creates new challenges for supervisors, who need to establish new routines for making arrangements and ensuring the flow of information and communication. Supervisors must ensure that everyone finds their job meaningful despite the new situation and that the processes are smooth.
“Our survey revealed a slight increase in occupational burnout among immediate supervisors and managers,” says Janne Kaltiainen, Specialist Researcher at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.
“This suggests that coping among supervisors deserves particular attention in workplaces. In an exceptional situation, the supervisor has to take care of many different matters in addition to the smooth progress of work during normal working days.”
No changes in the well-being at work of employees who remained at the workplace
Although remote work became more common due to the coronavirus epidemic, there are still many fields where remote work is not possible, such as physical care, the industrial, transportation and construction sectors, and agriculture and forestry. According to a population survey ordered by YLE and conducted by Taloustutkimus earlier this spring, 36% of respondents could not work remotely.
In the Miten Suomi voi? survey, employees who only worked in close contact with others did not report significant changes in their well-being at work during the spring. However, these respondents also reported less exhaustion at work and an improved state of health.
“According to our research, support from supervisors and colleagues and a pro-active approach to new working practices maintain work engagement and reduce the risk of occupational burnout. These areas should be given priority in workplaces,” comments Jari Hakanen.
SeeThe Miten Suomi voi? follow-up study analysed changes in the well-being of working-age Finns in the spring following the coronavirus outbreak. Taloustutkimus carried out the first survey based on a commission by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health at the turn of 2019/2020 and the follow-up survey in May and June 2020. The number of respondents was 1,077.
The first survey was part of another study project (“Kimmoisat työntekijät muuttuvassa työelämässä”), and the coronavirus epidemic was not topical at the time. The respondents of the first survey were asked to complete the survey again in May because the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health wanted to analyse changes in work ability and well-being at work during the exceptional circumstances in Finland.
Project website (in Finnish): https://www.ttl.fi/tutkimushanke/miten-suomi-voi/
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Jari Hakanen, Research Professor, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, tel. +358 (0)40 562 5433, jari.hakanen[at]ttl.fi
Janne Kaltiainen, Specialist Researcher, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, tel. +358 (0)30 474 2668, janne.kaltiainen[at]ttl.fi
Salla Toppinen-Tanner, Director, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, tel. +358 (0)46 851 2517, salla.toppinen-tanner[at]ttl.fi