InIndustry 4.0, digital transformation and societal developments have changedtelework over the last 50 years into what is now referred to as working from home. Our research focuses on working from home behaviours of micro (less than ten employees) and small (10-49 employees) enterprises as they significantly contribute to the economy. In Switzerland, micro and small enterprises, including the self-employed, encompass over 98% of all companies, and worldwide, MSEs account for around 70% of employment. Recently, the digital transformation of work was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our study examines how digital transformation impacts working from home behaviour relating to technology adoption and communication tools in micro and small enterprises after Switzerland’s first, second and third COVID-19 lockdowns.

Surveyingover 500 managing directors of micro and small enterprises during the first (2020), the second (2021), and after the third (2022) lockdown in Switzerland, we investigated working from home arrangements related to technology adoption. Results highlight that technological ‘pioneers’, which lead the technology adoption, implement working from home arrangements to a higher degree than ‘early followers’ and ‘late followers’. Also, technology-savvy micro and small enterprises ‘pioneers’ and ‘early followers’ use online communication tools, such as video conferencing, to a significantly larger extent than the ‘late followers’. While the managing directors’ long-term perspective is that the digital transformation of work may lead to structural changes related to technology adoption, the 2022 survey showed that once all COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, employees frequently returned to their employers’ premises in the short term. Nevertheless, adopting and upgrading communication technology has impacted collaboration at work. Online (video) conferencing tools such as Teams and Zoom became established, in addition to other online affordances such ase-commerce, (internal) social media, or collaboration platforms.

Our investigation has led us to make two main recommendations as remote work becomes more prevalent. First, human resources departments, in line with their firm’s strategic technological (digital) roadmap, and policymakers need to accelerate and support the development of digital policies. Our study discusses such approaches to policy adjustment for MSEs. Second, leaders and employees across the global value chains need digital skills to collaborate in digital settings effectively – and senior management to develop digital strategies. In turn, digital capability development and online collaborations in workplace settings contribute to increasing trust in organisations. Consequently, working in trustful environments stimulates employee satisfaction and motivation, contributing to organisational success.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEnsuring decent work in times of uncertainty
Subtitle of host publication8th Conference of the Regulating for Decent Work Network
PublisherInternational Labour Organization
Number of pages29
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Event8th Regulating for Decent Work Conference 2023 - International Labour Organization (ILO) Office, Geneva, Switzerland
Duration: 10 Jul 202312 Jul 2023
https://www.conftool.org/rdw2023/sessions.php (Program)
https://www.ilo.org/global/research/events-courses/rdw/8/lang--en/index.htm (Conference website)
http://csdle.lex.unict.it/sites/default/files/Documenti/OurUsers/RDW_2023_Call_for_Abstracts.pdf (Reference to a special journal issue being published with selected conf papers)


Conference8th Regulating for Decent Work Conference 2023
Abbreviated titleEnsuring decent work in times of uncertainty
OtherThe RDW Conference in 2023 addressed the impact of interconnected crises on the world of work. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the vulnerabilities and inequalities within socio-economic systems, especially affecting workers in the informal economy and marginalized populations. Additional crises such as climate change, conflicts, and disruptions to global supply chains have further intensified the uncertainty in labour markets and exacerbated inequalities. The conference aims to explore transformative policies and innovative institutions that can address the labour and social consequences of these crises, promote a just transition to environmentally sustainable economies, and ensure a more equitable and inclusive society. The conference focused on areas such as macroeconomic policies, trade and global value chains, institutions for decent work and social protection, and regulatory innovation. Researchers from various fields and representing hundreds of academic institutions and universities spanning dozens of countries were in attendance and presented their research and proposed new ideas and policies.
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