E-leadership and its Influence on Employees : A qualitative study from the perspective of employees working on site

University essay from Umeå universitet/Företagsekonomi

Abstract: Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many companies have switched to remote work as this has been the recommendations from the Swedish Public Health Agency (Folkhalsomyndigheten, 2021). While some companies have been able to adapt the entire business to remote work, others have not been able to do so since the job requires physical attendance. This has led managers especially within the public sector to work remotely whilst the employees that work hands on still work on site. Current literature is mostly focused on e-leadership within the private sector and where the entire team is working remotely. Thus, we want to answer the following research question:  How do e-leadership influence employees working on site in public welfare organizations in Sweden? The purpose of this study is to gain a deeper understanding of e-leadership's influence on employees working on site in public welfare organizations. To answer the research question and fulfill the purpose, we have conducted seven semi-structured interviews. By using a thematic analysis with an inductive approach, findings suggest that leaders performing e-leadership influences employees working on site in public welfare organizations in Sweden through four different dimensions. Firstly, the leader's absence increases employee empowerment. Secondly, the way leaders establish communication controls the employees perception of the relationship. Thirdly, how leaders show presence regulates employees motivation. Lastly, the restructuring of the organization contributes to employees feeling stressed.  This study contributes to leadership theory by bringing new insights to the area of e-leadership, especially for public welfare organizations in Sweden, within teams that are not fully geographically dispersed. Even if e-leadership is similar to face-to-face leadership in many ways, things like informal conversations, personal feedback and insights into the daily work is likely to decrease or disappear. Thus, making sure that continuous follow-ups are made of how the organization's most important asset, its employees, are being influenced by having an e-leader are beneficial. Our research can provide a basis for, or at least a pointer to, public welfare organizations when updating policies on how their leadership should be carried out to achieve organizational leadership success.

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