VIRTUAL WORK DURING COVID-19 LOCKDOWN – LESSONS LEARNED
The COVID-19 lockdown forced a large proportion of Norwegian office employees into virtual work and collaboration through computer-mediated communication, such as digital meetings. For many organizations, extensive use of virtual work and digital meetings was a novel experience they were not necessarily prepared for. For many employees, the situation entailed handling unfamiliar systems, adopting new work practices, and facing completely new challenges.
In this paper, we explore what we might learn from this unique case. We conducted interviews with 29 members of the administrative staff in the higher education sector, in order to find out how they perceived the situation. We find that virtual work and digital meetings were perceived as productive and flexible, but that the change to virtual work also entailed downsides and challenges. Furthermore, our findings indicate that central challenges could have been alleviated through specific measures. Based on the findings, we conclude on four recommendations that we propose apply not just during a period of lockdown, but for organizations today in general.