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Job Outcomes During the Transition to Remote Work [Seed Funding]

As many people experience remote work for the first time, it is important to understand how individual differences shape (or hinder) success in remote work. Dr. Evans, Dr. Meyers, Dr. Stavrova (Tilburg University) and Dr. van de Calseyde (Eindhoven University) are examining the longitudinal relationship between personality and job outcomes related to performance and worker well-being. This project is part of the Adaptive Societies, Organizations, and Workers theme.

Personality traits and worker outcomes in the transition to remote work

In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, organizations around the world were forced to rapidly transition to remote work. What are the potential consequences of this shift to remote work? Previous research has found that remote work can convey benefits to workers, such as increased schedule flexibility and greater autonomy. At the same time, remote work also creates new challenges, such as loss of social contact with colleagues and difficulty balancing work and family. As many employees experience remote work for the first time, it is important to understand how individual differences shape or hinder success in the remote work environment.

In the first stage of our project, we began by examining the longitudinal relationships between personality traits and worker outcomes in remote work. During the first wave of the pandemic, we conducted a four-month longitudinal study measuring changes in worker outcomes (such as performance, work engagement, and job satisfaction) during the transition to remote work. We found that two personality traits (extraversion and conscientiousness) were associated with deteriorating outcomes. In other words, highly extraverted and conscientious workers became less productive and less happy over time, whereas workers scoring low on these traits improved over the same period of time. Results from this study are now published in Social Personality Psychological Science, and data and study materials are available on the Open Science Framework.

We are currently continuing our study of remote work by examining whether experiences during the first months of the pandemic (and memories of those experiences) predict future attitudes towards remote (vs. in-office) work.

In the coming years, it will be increasingly important for organizations to understand the factors that facilitate (or hinder) success in remote work. Currently, many organizations are considering whether they allow (or encourage) increased remote working in the future. Previous attempts to uncover such factors focused largely on when and why employees begin remote work, and attitudes towards employees who engage in remote work. We address an important gap by testing the role of personality in the context of remote work. Our research takes an important step towards understanding how individual differences shape worker success in the age of COVID-19.

Interdisciplinary approach

Our team’s research lies at the intersection of Social Psychology, Organizational Behavior, and Human Resource Studies. We are testing psychological theories of personality and trust in the context of worker outcomes. This research will contribute to our applied knowledge of worker well-being, as well as inform general psychological theories of personality and social interaction.

Our team consists of experts from the fields of social and personality psychology (Drs. Evans and Stavrova),  Human Resource Studies (Dr. Meyers), and Organizational Behavior (Dr. van de Calseyde).

Cross-cutting themes

The Herbert Simon Research Institute for Health, Well-being, and Adaptiveness is a research center devoted to carrying out excellent, state of the art research in order to contribute to healthy and resilient people. We have selected three themes, which involve the collaboration between various Departments  and address actual themes in need of both fundamental and applied research.