Paradoxes and Difficulties

Virtual work arrangements undergo many difficulties and problems. Among the most common ones are:

  • Difficulties to develop common actionable understandings
  • Impossibility to coordinate and mobilize collective action
  • Conflicts and relational tensions

Whereas a lot has been done by research and practice to improve virtual work processes, we still lack in-depth, actionable understanding of the related problems. Some of the antecedents of these problems are:

  • Understanding virtual collaboration and knowledge sharing as a transmission of information, and, thus, ignoring the social and relational aspects
  • Exclusive focus on the technology as a main determinant of success, and ignoring the social practices that shape the use of technology
  • Understanding virtual work as an inferior copy of face-to-face interactions

Our Research Design

Our  experience and expertise is centered on understanding and facilitating virtual work arrangements as a qualitatively distinct mode of interactions. This entails developing  critical perspectives on understanding the relationship between technology and collaborative practices. In such a way we are able to offer innovative solutions to the common virtual work difficulties. 


We use a plethora of in-depth methods for exploring and analyzing virtual processes. Our aim is to work together with companies to facilitate their processes through coaching and training with a view to triggering learning processes and establishing productive organizational practices. We follow a multi-method approach and use quantitative diary studies and online questionnaires as well as qualitative interviews.


We find that enforced working from home does not lead to an increased perceived stress level. This suggests that 

  1. knowledge workers can adapt to the rapid shift from a physical office to the home office
  2. knowledge workers in an enforced working from home environment face fewer stressors compared to prior working from home arrangements (e.g., better organizational support, no marginalization of home office workers)
  3.  the benefits of working from home, such as time savings due to less commuting time, outweigh potential negative effects, such as blurred work-life boundaries

Benefits from the EWFH phase should be kept in a voluntary working from home setting. Organizations should consider to allow, or even encourage, employees to continue working from home in the future, at least to a certain extent. We believe that especially job roles that require longer stretches of individual focus work (compared to roles with embedded high communication needs) benefit from working from home.