During the Covid-19 pandemic, about a third of the Swedish workforce (about two thirds in the service sector) is/has been working partly or entirely from home and many meetings have been replaced by virtual meetings (video conferences). While preliminary findings indicate that many, but not all, appreciate the home office and want to continue working remotely even after the pandemic. Also many employers see the benefits of remote work, e.g. when it facilitates recruitment of certain highly skilled workers when physical presence is not a requirement. But virtual meetings also pose a number of challenges to meeting participants as well as meeting leaders. Already before the pandemic, various studies indicated that meetings can have a negative impact on employee well-being and job-satisfaction and while virtual meetings may mitigate some of the disavantages of physical meetings, they also introduce new sources of discomfort and communication problems.
As some people return to the office and others continue to work remotely, we expect to see an increase in hybrid meetings, which entails additional risks for the work-environment if remote participants become "second class" participants in those meetings or when lack of physical copresence reduces employees sense of community and/or committment to the organization.
In this project, we therefore collect data on how employees experience virtual and hybrid meetings in Swedish workplaces to both document and study this historic phase in the development of modern workplace communication. We do so in collaboration with the LORE Citizen Panel at the SOM institute which will administer two online surveys to a representative sample of the Swedish working population, one during the earlier phase phase of widespread adoption to hybrid meetings and at a later stage, when hybrid meetings have become more "common sense", allowing us to see to what extent virtual and hybrid meetings remain part of the Swedish work place, how this affects employee well-being and how organizations react to the challenges related to these forms of workplace communication.
The survey will be complemented by qualitative follow-up interviews to provide an in-depth understanding of the most successful and most problematic meeting practices (in terms of participant's experiences).
The aim of this project is to provide a representative picture of
- how virtual and hybrid meetings are organised at workplaces across Sweden,
- how employees experience these meetings,
- how these experiences affect employee well-being and job-satisfaction,
- what measures are taken to change or maintain these experiences, and
- with what effect.