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Stream 4: Work From Home, Flexible & Virtual Work

About stream 4

In this stream, we look at new and emerging forms of how work is changing in the 21st century. Increases in working-from-home (WFH), increased flexibility where and how work is performed and virtual workspaces are changing the very nature of work. This has important implications for health, wellbeing, and performance both for individual workers and for teams.

Ongoing and Past Projects

Virtual teams. In a world characterized by rapid technological advancements and increasingly flexible workplaces, highly capable information and communication technologies have created the possibility of work environments strongly influenced by technology-mediated-communication. We see an increasing prevalence of virtual teams – that is, teams working on interdependent tasks under conditions of geographical and/or organizational dispersion and who have to rely on communication technology (e.g., Klonek & Parker, 2021). These advancements have spurred both a societal and a research interest in designing work for teams that is beneficial for performance.

In our research, we focused on getting a better understanding of how team work design and team virtuality interactively affect team functioning (Handke et al., 2020). In reviewing the literature, we identified that virtuality does not always harm team functioning and in some cases virtual teams may even outperform traditional teams, but it depends on how their work is designed. Job resources, such as feedback, social support and job autonomy, have shown to be especially helpful for virtual teams. Feedback helps to reduce negative consequences of lacking interactivity in virtual environments, team autonomy enables team members to switch between different communication channels, and social support compensates for the lack of warmth, trust and cohesion, which is often experienced in virtual collaborations.

The research also identified key work design features that are likely to be detrimental for virtual team functioning, such as, certain knowledge characteristics like work complexity, ambiguity, increased problem-solving requirements and time pressure, have shown to have significant impact on virtual team performance and trust (Handke et al., 2019).  

Based on this research, we also have contributed conceptual work on team perceptions of “virtuality” which we propose to be a cognitive-affective team emergent state which is grounded in collectively experienced feelings of distance and perceptions of information deficits (Handke et al., 2021). In our research, we propose that team-level work design features like team autonomy and interdependence are critical in reducing the extent to which teams experience distance and information deficits (Handke et al., 2021)

Remote working/ working from home. We  conducted empirical work in China in the early days of pandemic to better understand the challenges experienced by remote workers (Wang, Liu, Quian, & Parker, 2021). Our research identified four key remote work challenges (work‐home interference, ineffective communication, procrastination, and loneliness), as well as four virtual work characteristics that affected the experience of these challenges (social support, job autonomy, monitoring, and workload) and one key individual difference factor (workers’ self‐discipline).

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted where and how work was done, with government mandates forcing individuals to work from home indefinitely to minimise spread of the virus. This large-scale movement to home working is set to persist. Yet, whilst working from home has benefits for some people, there are also significant challenges. For example, trying to work while homeschooling children was very difficult for many parents, while others may have found themselves at home alone and suffering from lack of social contact. At the same time, others found that managers were closely monitoring them remotely, causing anxiety and stress (Parker et al., 2020). 

In April 2020, we commenced a 15 wave longitudinal survey study to investigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on work design, adaptation to the pandemic, and well-being of those working from home. Amongst a sample of nearly approximately 500 workers, we found that in April 2020, psychological distress was much higher than pre-pandemic (Knight et al., 2020). Over the following three months, latent growth modelling revealed a group of individuals whose distress initially increased and then plateaued, and a group of individuals whose distress gradually decreased (Knight et al., 2022).


Source: Knight et al., 2022

Further, we observed that job demands were salient predictors of who was likely to be in which profile group, with high workload, underload, and close monitoring predicting increased distress over time. Job resources such as autonomy and support did not predict which profile a person was in. However, detaching from work was important, with those who were more able to detach being more likely to belong to the decreasing distress profile. These findings demonstrate the importance of designing work for those working from home that has manageable demands and allows people to detach and recover adequately.  

Our COVID study also investigated performance and found that in April 2020, the majority of employees reported being just as productive, or even more productive, than pre-pandemic (Keller et al., 2020). Factors promoting productivity included support from the organisation and coworkers whilst working remotely, engaging in daily planning and goal setting, and taking time to relax. Taken together, our COVID study reveals much about the role of job demands and resources in optimising work design while working from home, as well as the importance of individual proactivity in adopting helpful strategies to adapt to the new work environment. 

  • Our Thrive at Work model includes, but goes beyond, work design. Our website  ( outlines the Thrive at Work model, survey, audit, and resources. Parker, Jorritsma, and Griffin (2022) describes the Thrive model, providing a holistic overview of mental health strategies in the workplace, including the role of work design.

  • provides details of the SMART work design model; this practical paper provides an outline of the model; and this video shows Sharon providing an overview of the model. 

  • Practical resources about virtual work/ working from home can be found on our website

Practical resources

Parker, S. K., Jorritsma, K., & Griffin, M. A. (2021). Shifting the Mental Health Conversation:  Present and Future Applications of the “Thrive at Work” Framework. In P. Brough, E. Gardiner, and K. Daniels. (Eds).  Handbook on Management and Employment Practices, Handbook Series in Occupational Health Sciences, Springer Nature.


Cangiano, F., Parker, S. K., & Ouyang, K. (2021). Too proactive to switch off: When taking charge drains resources and impairs detachment. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 26(2), 142-154.

Chapman, M. T., Temby, P., Crane, M., Ntoumanis, N., Quested, E., Thøgersen-Ntoumani, C., Parker, S. K., Ducker, K. J., Peeling, P., & Gucciardi, D. F. (2021). Team resilience emergence: Perspectives and experiences of military personnel selected for elite military training. European Journal of Social Psychology.

Gucciardi, D. F., Lang, J. W. B., Lines, R. L. J., Chapman, M. T., Ducker, K. J., Peeling, P., Crane, M., Ntoumanis, N., Parker, S. K., Thøgersen-Ntoumani, C., Quested, E., & Temby, P. (2021). The emergence of resilience: Recovery trajectories in sleep functioning after a major stressor. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology, 10(4), 571–589.

Parker, S. K., & Jorritsma, K. (2021). Good work design for all: Multiple pathways to making a difference. European Journal Of Work And Organizational Psychology, 30(3), 456-468.

Reich, T. C., Hershcovis, M. S., Lyubykh, Z., Niven, K., Parker, S. K., & Stride, C. B. (2021). Observer reactions to workplace mistreatment: It’s a matter of perspective. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 26(5), 374–392.

Stephan, U., Zbierowski, P., Pérez-Luño, A., Wach, D., Alba Cabañas, M., Barki, E., Benzari, A., Bernhard-Oet, C., Boekhorst, J., Dash, A., Efendic, A., Eib, C., Hanard, P.-J., Iakovleva, T., Kawakatsu, S., Khalid, S., Leatherbee, M., Li, J., Parker, S., Qu, J., Rosati, F., Sahasranamam, S., Sekiguchi, T., Yshikawa Salusse, M. A., Thomas, N. A., Torres, O., Ward, M. K., Wiklund, J., Williamson, A. J., & Zahid, M. (2021). Agility or Wait-and-See? How the Covid-19 Crisis Impacts Entrepreneurs’ Well-being across Countries. Academy of Management Proceedings, 2021(1), 11848.

Turner, N., Barling, J., Dawson, J. F., Deng, C., Parker, S. K., Patterson, M. G., & Stride, C. B. (2021). Human resource management practices and organizational injury rates. Journal of Safety Research, 78, 69-79. 

Zhang, F., Wang, B., Qian, J., & Parker, S. K. (2021). Job crafting towards strengths and job crafting towards interests in overqualified employees: Different outcomes and boundary effects. Journal of Organizational Behavior.

Chapman, M. T., Lines, R. L. J., Crane, M., Ducker, K. J., Ntoumanis, N., Peeling, P., Parker, S. K., Quested, E., Temby, P., Thogersen-Ntoumani, C., & Gucciardi, D. F. (2020). Team resilience: A scoping view of conceptual and empirical work. Work & Stress, 34(1), 57-81.

Koen, J., & Parker, S. K. (2020). In the eye of the beholder: How proactive coping alters perceptions of insecurity. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 25(6), 385–400.

Parker, S. K., & Jorristma, K. (2020). Good work design for all: Multiple pathways to making a difference. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology. Special issue on impact.

Thøgersen-Ntoumani, C., Quested, E., Smith, B. S., Nicholas, J., McVeigh, J., Fenton, S. A. M., Stamatakis, E., Parker, S., Pereira, G., Gucciardi, D. F., & Ntoumanis, N. (2020). Feasibility and preliminary effects of a peer-led motivationally-embellished workplace walking intervention: A pilot cluster randomized trial (the START trial). Contemporary Clinical Trials, 91, 105969.

Wang, B., Liu, Y., Qian, J. & Parker, S.K. (2020), Achieving effective remote working during the COVID‐19 pandemic: A work design perspective. Applied Psychology , 70(1), 16-59.

Ward, M. K., Yam, C. M. H., Palejwala, Z., Wallman, K., Taggart, S. M., Wood, F. M., & Parker, S. K. (2020). An Experimental Simulation of Heat Effects on Cognition and Workload of Surgical Team Members. Annals of Surgery.

Wu, C., Wang, L., Griffin, M. A., & Parker, S. K. (2020). Effects of chronic job insecurity on Big Five personality change. Journal of Applied Psychology, 105(11), 1308-1326.

Andrei, D. M., Van den Broeck, A., & Parker, S. K. (2019). Good work, poor work? We need to go far beyond capitalism to answer this question. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 12(4), 463-468.

Cangiano, F., Parker, S. K., & Yeo, G. (2019). Does daily proactivity affect well-being? The moderating role of punitive supervision.  Journal of Organizational Behavior, 40(1), 59-72.

Palejwala, Z., Wallman, K., Ward, M. K., Yam, C., Maroni, T., Parker, S. K., & Wood, F. (2019). Effects of a hot ambient operating theatre on manual dexterity, psychological and physiological parameters in staff during a simulated burn surgery. PLoS ONE, 14(10).


Key relevant papers from pre-2017

Parker, S. K., Morgeson, F., & Johns, G. (2017). One hundred years of work design research: Looking back and looking forward. Journal of Applied Psychology, 102(3), 403-420.

Wu, C., Luksyte, A., & Parker, S. K. (2015). Overqualification and subjective well-being at work: The moderating role of job autonomy and culture. Social Indicators Research, 121(3), 917-937.

Parker, S. K. (2014). Beyond motivation: Job and work design for development, health, ambidexterity, and more. Annual Review of Psychology, 65, 661-691.

Warr, P. B., Bindl, U., Parker, S. K., & Inceoglu, I. (2014). Four-quadrant investigation of job-related affects and behaviours. An expanded approach to job-related affects and behaviours.  European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 23(3), 342-363.

Parker, S. K., Johnson, A., Collins, C., & Nguyen, H. (2013). Making the most of structural support: Moderating influence of employees’ clarity and negative affect. Academy of Management Journal, 56(3), 867-892. 

Wu, C. H., & Parker, S. K. (2013). Thinking and acting in anticipation: A review of research on proactive behavior. Advances in Psychological Science, 21(4), 679–700.

Hershcovis, S. M., Parker, S. K., Reich, T. C. (2010). The moderating effect of grievance procedures and equal opportunity perceptions on sexual harassment from different perpetrators.  Journal of Business Ethics, 92(3), 415-443.

Weigl, M., Hornung, S., Parker, S. K., Petru, R., Glaser, J., & Angerer, P. (2010). Work engagement and accumulation of task, social, and personal resources: A three-wave structural equation model. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 77(1), 140-153.

Parker, S. K. (2003). Longitudinal effects of lean production on employee outcomes and the mediating role of work characteristics. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88(4), 620-634.

Parker, S. K., & Griffin, M. A. (2002). What's so bad about a little name-calling? Negative consequences of gender harassment for over-performance demands and psychological distress. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 7(3), 195-210.

Parker, S. K., Griffin, M. A., Sprigg C., and Wall, T.D. (2002). Effect of temporary contracts on perceived work characteristics and job strain: A longitudinal study. Personnel Psychology, 55(3), 689-719.

Parker, S. K.,  Axtell, C., & Turner, N. A (2001). Designing a safer workplace: Importance of job autonomy, communication quality, and supportive supervisors. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 6(3), 211–228.

Sprigg, C.A., Jackson, P.R., and Parker, S. K. (2000). Production team-working: The importance of interdependence for employee strain and satisfaction. Human Relations, 53(11), 1519-1542.

Parker, S. K., & Sprigg, C. A. (1999). Minimizing strain and maximizing learning: The role of job demands, job control, and proactive personality. Journal of Applied Psychology, 84(6), 925-939.

Teuchmann, K., Totterdell, P., & Parker, S. K. (1999). Rushed, unhappy, drained: An experience sampling study of relations between time pressure, mood and emotional exhaustion in a group of accountants. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 4(1), 37-54.

Parker, S. K., Chmiel, N., & Wall, T.D. (1997). Work characteristics and employee well-being with a context of strategic downsizing. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 2(4), 289-303.

Wall, T. D., Jackson, P. R., Mullarkey, S., & Parker, S. K. (1996). The demand-control model of job-strain: A more specific test. Journal of Occupational & Organizational Psychology, 69(2), 153-167.

Research publications

Handke, L., Costa, P. L., Klonek, F. E., O’Neill, T. A., & Parker, S. K. (2021). Team perceived virtuality: An emergent state perspective. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 30(5), 624-638.

Handke, L., Klonek, F., O’Neill, T. A., & Kerschreiter, R. (2022). Unpacking the role of feedback in virtual team effectiveness. Small Group Research, 53(1), 41-87.

Handke, L., Klonek, F. E., Parker, S. K., & Kauffeld, S. (2020). Interactive effects of team virtuality and work design on team functioning. Small Group Research, 51(1), 3-47.

Klonek, F. E., Kanse, L., Wee, S., Runneboom, C., & Parker, S. K. (2022). Did the COVID-19 lock-down make us better at working in virtual teams?. Small Group Research, 53(2), 185-206.

Klonek, F., & Parker, S. K. (2021). Designing SMART teamwork: How work design can boost performance in virtual teams. Organizational Dynamics, 50(1), 100841.

Knight, C., Keller, A. C., & Parker, S. K. (2023). Job demands, not resources, predict worsening psychological distress during the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. Work & Stress, 37(1), 55-77.

Parker, S. K., Knight, C., & Keller, A. (2020). Parker, S. K., Knight, C., & Keller, A. (2020). Remote managers are having trust issues. Harvard Business Review, 30, 6-20.

Wang, B., Liu, Y., & Parker, S. K. (2020). How does the use of information communication technology affect individuals? A work design perspective. Academy of Management Annals, 14(2), 695-725.

Wang, B., Liu, Y., Qian, J., & Parker, S. K. (2021). Achieving effective remote working during the COVID‐19 pandemic: A work design perspective. Applied Psychology, 70(1), 16-59.

Parent-Rocheleau, X., & Parker, S. K. (2022). Algorithms as work designers: How algorithmic management influences the design of jobs. Human Resource Management Review, 32(3), 100838.

For further information on our research

See our publications page

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