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Pandemic and Telework: Opportunities and Challenges

04 May 2021

WRITTEN BY Dionysis Dionysiou
Associate Professor of Organization and Management & Academic Director of the MSc in Strategic Human Resource Management

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, employees and enterprises in our country were forced to shift to the mode of work known as “telework” or “remote working.” Although in some EU countries, like the Netherlands, Sweden and Finland, the percentage of employees who worked outsider their employers’ premises before the pandemic exceeded 30%, in our country the percentage was one of the lowest (5.3%)



This percentage involved mainly individuals who were self-employed and there were discrepancies depending on the industry and the profession. According to a study by Eurofound, right after the first wave of the pandemic, approximately 37% of EU employees was fully integrated to telework status, while a more recent research by the EU Joint Research Center, estimates that 25% of employees works remotely on a permanent basis. Although the forced shift to teleworking caught employers and employees by surprise, it served as a first-class opportunity for the acquisition of relevant skills and experience, as well as the realization of its advantages and disadvantages. Research on the perceptions of employees about teleworking shows that a significant percentage of them would like continue working remotely to some extent even after the pandemic. For example, in UK, this percentage reaches 87%, while nearly 50% of the surveyed employees mentioned they would like to continue working remotely on a regular or permanent basis. Even in our country, in a recent study by PULSE RC on behalf of SOCIALDO, 30% of respondents mentioned that they would prefer to continue working from home even after the pandemic has ended.


Considering the advantages of telework for the employees, the enterprises, and the society (work flexibility, work-life balance, reduced commuting time and costs, recruiting and retention of talented employees, uninterrupted operation of the business, reduction in fixed operation and maintenance costs, increased employment opportunities for special population groups, reduction in traffic and air pollution, and more), it is estimated that increased percentages of telework will persist even after the pandemic has ended. Based on relevant research, telework seems to have a positive impact on employee productivity and satisfaction, with some experts believing that offering employees flexibility with respect to the location of their work may be highly beneficial for the enterprises in the post-pandemic era.

Because shifting to telework happened abruptly and without the required preparation, it is important for enterprises and employees to be aware of the potential negative consequences of telework, which include:

  • The social/working isolation of employees due to the lack of contact and informal relations with their coworkers, especially for those teleworking on a regular basis.
  • The inability to control the location and duration of work, which may lead to doubts as to the legal character of telework as a form of permanent employment or result in the encroachment on employees’ rights (e.g. leaves, holidays, overtime).
  • The confusion and blurring of the limits between professional and private life resulting in the intensification of labor and the excessive commitment of employees, with consequences on their mental and physical health.    
  • The burdening of employees with their enterprises’ operational costs (e.g. utility costs, etc.)
  • Managerial control with the use of new technologies may end up in a form of electronic surveillance, which can violate the limits of employees’ private lives.
  • The working conditions outside the work environment, which may be inappropriate for work (presence of family members, lack of resources, means and suitable work conditions in general).


Enterprises can maximize the benefits and minimize the possible negative consequences of telework, by investing in the necessary technologies and equipment, data security, and the acquisition of relevant skills.


It is also suggested that telework is on a volunteer basis and not imposed on employees, while a important prerequisite for productive teleworking is the appropriate supervisor training. Relevant research shows that telework requires different supervision skills from those that apply to the traditional work environment, with special emphasis on building trustful relationships between employees and supervisors, on control and frequent feedback based on measurable results, and on respecting employees’ autonomy and flexibility. Lastly, alternating telework (partly at home, partly at the office) significantly reduces the possibility of employees experiencing social and work isolation and reinforces the enterprises’ efforts to create and maintain their corporate culture.



  • Εθνικό Ινστιτούτο Εργασίας και Ανθρώπινου Δυναμικού (2020). Θεματικό Δελτίο Ενημέρωσης Νο 3. Η τηλεργασία στην Ε.Ε. πριν και μετά την πανδημία COVID-19.  

  • Οικονομική και Κοινωνική Επιτροπή της Ελλάδος (2020). Γνώμη πρωτοβουλίας. Τηλεργασία:προβλήματα και προοπτικές.  

  • Carillo, Κ., Cachat-Rosset, Γ., Marsan, J., Sabe, T., & Klarsfeld, A. (2021) Adjusting to epidemic-induced telework: empirical insights from teleworkers in France, European Journal of Information Systems, 30(1): 69-88.

  • Eurofound (2020), Living, working and COVID-19. COVID-19 series, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg.

  • Kim, T., Mullins, L.B., & Yoon, T. (2012). Supervision of telework: A key to organizational performance. American Review of Public Administration. 51(4):263-277. 

  • Felstead, A., & Reuschke, D. (2020). Homeworking in the UK: before andduring the 2020 lockdown.  WISERD Report, Cardiff: Wales Institute of Social and Economic  


Read the article as published in Kathimerini (in Greek)   as part of a special supplement  about the 2020 list of Best Workplaces in Greece. ( April, 2021.)
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