Trust disruption and preservation in the Covid-19 work from home context

Niki Panteli, Jason Nurse, Emily Collins, Nikki Williams

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Abstract

The paper posits that the enforced and unprepared Work from Home (WFH) context due to Covid-19 provides a unique setting for the study of trust in changing contexts. The purpose of our work therefore is to examine to what extent Covid-19 WFH changed trust relationships among remote employees, their managers and organisations and how this has taken place.
The study used semi-structured interviews with employees and managers from different organisations across different sectors. Interviews were supported with image prompts as suggested by the storyboarding method and took place between November 2020 and February 2021. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data.
Our findings identified factors that contribute to trust disruption and factors that led to trust preservation within the changing workspace landscape enforced by WFH environment. Employees reported trust in their organisations, feeling as though their organisations proven resilient at the time of the crisis caused by the pandemic. Interestingly, managers reported trust in employees to remain productive but also anxieties due to the possible presence of others in the household.
The study identified factors that affect intra-organisational trust that have not been previously recognized, exposing tensions and challenges which may disrupt trust relations between managers and employees, whilst also identifying evidence of trust preservation in the Covid-19 WFH context. Implications for workplace learning are also discussed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Workplace Learning
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 8 Aug 2022

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