Well-Being and Empowerment Perceptions in a Sudden Shift to Working from Home

Duncan Jackson, Amanda Jones, George Michaelides, Chris Dewberry

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In the literature on the antecedents and mediators of employee well-being, there is little or no acknowledgement of sudden changes in the social and environmental context in which perceptions of well-being are formed. Contextual influences are rarely so impactful and unexpected as those associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. To continue operating within lockdown restrictions, many organizations, apart from those unable or unwilling to initiate such changes, abruptly adopted a work from home (WFH) or hybrid working pattern. These circumstances raise novel questions about the influence of impactful, unanticipated contextual factors on employee well-being outcomes. To address these questions in the context of a shift to WFH, we tested a model adapted from aspects of Event Systems Theory (EST) and the Psychology of Working Theory (PWT). Central to our theoretical adaptation was a unique perspective on PWT “decent work” perceptions based on principles of empowerment. In a study of 337 employees during the lockdown period, we applied a Bayesian multilevel model to investigate the contrast between in-lockdown perceptions relative to current pre-lockdown perceptions. Results suggested the contextual shift to WFH related negatively to relative perceptions of well-being, job satisfaction, and organizational commitment. Empowerment significantly mediated all well-being outcomes. Organizational support, neuroticism, and home readiness related directly to empowerment and indirectly to well-being outcomes via empowerment. We discuss how sudden contextual changes interacted with relationships observed in our model, and how our findings progress a context-responsive adaptation of EST and PWT in the new world of WFH.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal Of Vocational Behavior
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 8 May 2024


  • contextual impact
  • working from home
  • well-being
  • empowerment


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