The COVID-19 pandemic has given teleworking a strong impulse, making it a more important object of research than ever before. It is forecast that the digitization of work will become increasingly important in the coming years and will transform the lives of both workers and firms. However, research has yet to provide adequate answers on the consequences of teleworking.
Under certain conditions, studies show that working far from one’s office could help mitigate conflicts with colleagues, increase flexibility and offer a better work–life balance. On the other hand, the use of digital platforms and the reduction of face-to-face interactions have also been associated with decreased social support, loneliness and pervasive forms of social control over vulnerable workers. In essence, the pandemic has taught us that teleworking has a bright and a dark side.
Many of the mechanisms that constitute these two sides seem to depend on how teleworking changes the way we spend time with our social relationships: how it affects:
- conflicts between colleagues and relatives;
- the mobilization of social support;
- forms of social control;
- interruptions to work activities.
This project advances new hypotheses on these four relational dimensions and applies Social Network Analysis (SNA), a framework completely unexplored in teleworking studies, in order to test them empirically. Designing a longitudinal mixed-methods design, an international team proposes to collect quantitative and qualitative data on teleworkers' personal networks in Switzerland, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands, four European countries with dissimilar socio-economic characteristics, family models and degrees of implementation of teleworking. The project aims to assesses the explanatory weight of these relational dimensions on workers' subjective well-being, contributing to their understanding with questions straddling economics, the sociology of work, family studies, epidemiology and health psychology.