Flexible work during COVID-19: a 10-day diary study on psychological safety, voice behaviour, inclusion, and belonging
Type of content
The COVID-19 pandemic has sped up the adoption of remote and flexible work, making such working arrangements the new normal for many employees around the world. However, concerns have been raised about the impact of remote work on communication, collaboration, and feelings of relatedness within teams. The present study aimed to investigate whether these detrimental effects extend to flexible rather than fully remote work, and whether such effects can be observed using a short-term longitudinal design. Firstly, the study compared flexible workers on daily perceptions of psychological safety, voice behaviour, inclusion, and belonging on office-working and remote-working days. Secondly, the study examined the impact of remote work frequency on these constructs. 50 office workers with flexible working arrangements were recruited from New Zealand for a 10-day diary study. Participants completed a baseline survey and 10 short daily surveys. As predicted, multilevel regression results showed that participants’ perceptions of psychological safety, voice behaviour, and belonging were lower on remote-working days than office-working days, although no significant effects were found on perceptions of inclusion. Contrary to expectations, higher remote work frequency did not predict lower levels of voice behaviour, inclusion, or belonging, and predicted higher rather than lower perceptions of psychological safety. Participants also reported high levels of all four constructs, both at baseline and across the 10-day study period. While perceptions of these constructs may fluctuate daily in response to one’s work location, these results suggest that flexible work is not detrimental to employees or organisations overall.