University of Oulu

Telecommuting during a crisis : the development of manager-employee trust from the manager’s point of view

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Author: Risikko, Jutta1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Oulu Business School, Department of Management and International Business, Management
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.5 MB)
Pages: 123
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : J. Risikko, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-05-05
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Tuunainen, Juha
Reviewer: Lämsä, Tuija
Tuunainen, Juha


The purpose of this study is to shed light into how manager-employee trust is developed during a situation of telecommuting under crisis. The paper aims to describe how managers of organizations have experienced the development of trust relationship between them and their employees and what factors affect the development of this relationship. The situation that this research uses as a viewpoint is the unique situation of coronavirus (Covid-19), that forced organizations to implement telecommuting as a measure to decrease the spreading of the pandemic. This situation is investigated from the manager’s perspective with a processual viewpoint, and the aim is to understand how the existing manager- employee trust affects the remote crisis situation, and how the situation affects to the development of manager-employee trust. By covering this phenomenon with the focus on manager-employee trust, this paper seeks to answer the research question of “how does manager’s perceived trust towards the employee develop in a remote setting during a crisis”.

The research gap is clearly present since the crisis and telecommuting research have not been combined before in a way that they would have created a coherent combination. This study contributes to the existing research by combining the two separate research fields into one from the viewpoint of manager’s perceived trust towards the employee. In addition to this, there are research gaps regarding the importance of trust in both remote and crisis management that this paper seeks to fill in. The research was conducted with qualitative approach and the data was collected with six semi-structured interviews of managers that had been forced to begin remote management and crisis management of employees at the same time because of the coronavirus. The data was analysed with an abductive approach and from the findings there could be found themes and views give theoretical contribution to the existing research by providing views on how crisis and telecommuting together affect the manager-employee trust.

The main findings of this research suggest that manager’s trust towards the employees plays a crucial role in remote crisis situation. This paper suggests that the most crucial part in the development of manager-employee trust is the employee’s trustworthiness, which of abilities are most present in the early stages of the relationship, while benevolence of the employee highlight after the relationship becomes stronger. Pre-crisis trust and the strength of it plays an important part in telecommuting situation and how the manager is able to balance the lack of control and how the negative effects of computer-mediated communication can be diminished. If there is a strong trust relationship during the remote work, the trust can be maintained or even increased, but however if trust has not been developed on a strong level before the telecommuting period, it may have negative effects on the trust. The crisis itself, surprisingly, may not pose such a threat for the manager-employee trust. This is the case especially in a crisis where authorities are centralized and the (middle)managers do not have decision making authority.

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Copyright information: © Jutta Risikko, 2021. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.