The impact of remote working on organisational culture in Aotearoa New Zealand

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Authors
Bradley, Anne
Hawkins, Maree
Wilson, Mark
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2023
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Journal Article
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New Zealand
flexible workforce
organisational culture
remote working
work-life balance
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Bradley, A., Hawkins, M., & Wilson, M. (2023). The impact of remote working on organisational culture in Aotearoa New Zealand. The New Zealand Journal of Human Resource Management, 23 (1), 20-35. https://hrnz.org.nz/nzjhrm/articles/2023
Abstract
The global shift to remote working is one of the most significant transitions in work practice since the Industrial Revolution. Initially arising from the development of digital communication technology and subsequently imposed worldwide by the COVID-19 pandemic, remote working continues for many amidst fluctuating social distancing rules, lockdowns, the rise of new COVID-19 variants and a new acceptance of remote working as a viable solution to reduce operational costs. Studies suggest that employees experience a myriad of benefits from the flexibility and autonomy remote working offers; however such a dramatic change in organisational behaviour is also impacting organisational culture and raising questions about how those impacts can be managed. This qualitative study explores employee perceptions of the personal impacts of remote working, and the impacts of remote working on organisational culture. The findings highlight issues to assist with effective organisational adaptation. Seventy-four participants from a range of organisations across Aotearoa New Zealand completed an online survey, and a focus group met to discuss themes arising from the survey data. Findings suggest that, whilst employees report positive personal impacts from remote working, largely due to the beneficial emotional and practical effects of increased flexibility, the impacts on organisational culture differ widely. Remote working exposes the strengths and weaknesses in the existing culture. Positive impacts are contingent on employee perceptions of level of trust, the maintenance of social connections within teams and the wider organisation, and communication satisfaction including both relationship management and task support.
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