Proposing a Theoretical Model to Improve the Remote Workers’ Employee Engagement and Wellbeing

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Purpose: An analysis of the current job resources and job demands that influence
the engagement and burnout levels of the knowledge worker working remotely.
Design: A systematic review of the literature was carried out generating seventy-eight relevant articles which provided key variables and inter-relationships.
Findings: The key variables to improve employee engagement are managerial
support and job design (job resources) and the ones contributing to burnout are
technological overload and blurring work-home boundaries (job demands). The
external and internal context and HRM practices are key influencers.
Implications for Practice: A new theoretical model is proposed for to improve
employee engagement and prevent burnout in remote workers in the Covid-19 era.
Research focus, rationale and questions:
Research Question: What are the key variables that influence the Employee
Engagement and Well-being of Remote Workers in the COVID-19 era?
Research Focus: To carry out a systematic literature review to recommend a new
theoretical framework to improve engagement and well-being in remote workers.
Research Rationale:
The workplace transformation created by the Covid-19 pandemic has forced millions of employees to work from home (Aitken-Fox et al. 2020, ONS 2020, Dubey and Tripathi 2020). Many organisations have had to make fast and agile changes to facilitate remote working for business continuity (Arora and Suri 2020; Jaiswal and Arun 2020; Coffey and Dayaram 2020).Felstead and Henseke (2017) highlight that while remote working is associated with higher organisational commitment and job satisfaction, these benefits come at the
cost of work intensification with a greater inability to switch off, blurring the work-life borders. Current research could connect more strongly with practical concerns for today’s organisations (Fletcher, Bailey, Madden & Alfes, 2019), the engagement and well-being of the remote worker is one such concern.
Recent research (Arora and Suri 2020; Prasad et al. 2020, Wood, Oh, Park and Kim 2020) report the effect of work intensification in terms of longer worker hours in remote workers, implying that careful design of remote work options is required. Hence. the author is proposing to close this research gap by providing a theoretical framework to improve the engagement and reduce burnout in the remote worker.

Research Objectives:
To explore existing literature for concepts and frameworks that influence the
employee engagement levels of knowledge workers working remotely.
To analyse engagement levels and the impact on work intensity as a result of the
sudden change to e-working during the Covid-19 pandemic
To recommend a theoretical framework for businesses to improve employee
engagement and to balance work intensification and well-being for the remote

Research methods
A systematic review of the literature was carried out for remote e-workers’ employee engagement and well-being at work. An initial literature review revealed the key words relevant to the study- Employee Engagement, Job Demands, Job Resources,Well-being, Remote Working, Work Intensification. A search strategy using the PRISMA technique ( 2020) was created and academic peer-reviewed journals and business /statistical reports were accessed. A set of clear explicit statements called inclusion criteria were applied to assess each study and assess if it actually does address the reviewer's research question and objectives (Petticrew and Roberts., 2006, Charalampous et al.,2018). The inclusion criteria covered articles relating to knowledge workers working remotely, focussing on remote working after the lockdown measures imposed in March 2020. Databases such as ScienceDirect, Sage, Emerald, Business Source Complete and ProQuest were scanned. Seventy-eight relevant articles were identified that employed quantitative, qualitative or mixed method design meeting the inclusion criteria. Out of these 17 related to the COVID-19 crisis and sudden increase in the number of knowledge workers working remotely. The quantitative and qualitative evidence (Walker, 2012) were interpreted to provide a narrative synthesis, that provided the key variables and inter-relationships for the construction of the theoretical framework
as recommended by Saunders et al (2016) and Blaikie and Priest (2018).
Research findings or argument.
As recommended by Arora and Suri (2020), in the post Covid-19 workplace,
managers must consider how to strategically balance job resources and job
demands to improve employee engagement. There is evidence that improving
engagement correlates with improving business productivity and this has been
evidenced in a number of studies (Macleod and Clarke 2009; Engage for Success
2010; Radda et al.2015; Court-Smith 2016). The Job-Demands Resources Model
(Schaufeli, Bakker and Salanova, 2002) and Saks Antecedents and Consequences
Framework (2006) are the key frameworks that provide a number of relevant
variables to understand the process of engaging employees and preventing burnout.
Various authors previously highlighted concerns in the costs of engagement, in
terms of work intensification, well-being and work-life balance (George 2011, Jenkins and Delbridge 2013, Sewell and Taskin 2015, Felstead and Henseke 2017).
Currently, there are some negative aspects of remote-working which are highlighted in various reviews (Felstead and Henseke 2017, Charalampous et al., 2018, Prasad et al. 2020, Wood, Oh, Park and Kim 2020) mainly work intensification, blurring of work and family life, social and professional isolation and perceived threats in professional advancement. Busse and Weidner (2020) recommend that leaders and managers play an important role in providing guidance to people to perceive a clear and transparent working environment, which will have a positive impact on their wellbeing,motivation and continuous engagement.

Practical importance and implications of research
To ensure work engagements levels and well-being are high in remote workers is a practical concern for today’s organisations, especially in the current situation where 49.2% of adults in employment were working from home (ONS, 2020).
Remote work for the knowledge worker is presumed to continue in the foreseeable future. Current findings highlight high levels of work intensification and professional isolation in remote work. In an attempt to maintain desired levels of productivity and efficiency, employees are overworked, resulting in higher levels of stress (Jaiswal & Arun 2020; Prasad, Vaidya & Rao, 2020). Further stress can be attributed to the inability to reach the right person for troubleshooting resulting in professional isolation (Jaiswal and Arun 2020).Careful thought needs to be given to work intensification in the form of technological overload and professional isolation (Jaiswal & Arun 2020; Charalampous 2018).
According to Singh and Kumar (2020), there is a need to consistently engage,
monitor and promote an inclusive, collaborative growth culture (Shaik & Makhecha (2019) for remote employees supported by digital infrastructure to enable work from anywhere. The outcome from this research will be in the form of a theoretical framework providing recommendations to improve engagement levels for professional services staff in the remote environment.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jan 2021
EventApplied Research Conference 2021 - Virtual Event
Duration: 21 Jan 202121 Jan 2021


ConferenceApplied Research Conference 2021
Abbreviated titleARC 2021


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