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Teleworking Impact on Employees in King Faisal Hospital Proposal

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Updated: Jun 15th, 2022

Introduction

The concept of telecommunication has become increasingly relevant at a global level within the past several months. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, health experts explained that the primary mode of its spread was the physical interaction of the infected and those who are healthy. As such, practices such as lockdowns and people working from home became a common practice all over the world (Smith, Patmos, and Pitts, 2018). It was the only way of ensuring that people remained safe from the deadly virus. Teleworking became one of the best ways in which many people continued with their work. It was the only way that would enable individuals to undertake their duties without exposing themselves or others to the virus. Despite the obvious benefits of teleworking, studies have suggested that it also has some negative consequences worth noting. According to Song and Gao (2020), working from home has various psychological consequences on workers. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the affected countries where some employees have been forced to work from home. Some of these individuals are working at King Faisal Hospital. In this study, the researcher seeks to investigate the psychological impact of teleworking on employees at King Faisal Hospital.

Research Aim and Objectives

The research aim is to conduct an assessment of the psychological impact of teleworking on employees at King Faisal Hospital. The management was forced to reduce the number of employees who have to be physically present at work because of the concerns of the spread of COVID-19 virus. As such, many workers, especially those offering non-critical services, were instructed to work from home. The aim of this study can be achieved through the following objectives:

  • To identify the impact that teleworking has had on employees at King Faisal Hospital;
  • To investigate how employees at King Faisal embraced the concept of working from home;
  • To determine if teleworking is an option that this facility can consider in post-COVID-19 era.

Literature Review

Advancements in the field of telecommunication has consistently promoted the practice of working from home. According to Lott and Abendroth (2020), this practice has gained massive popularity in fields such as education, marketing, stock exchange market, money markets, and entertainment among other fields. Many teachers are currently offering their services in the online platforms. Similarly, marketers no longer have to visit their brick-and-mortar offices all the time to accomplish their work. With the growing relevance of social media marketing through platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram, these marketers can develop commercials, share it with their colleagues, get the necessary approvals before publishing it from the comfort of their homes. They no longer have to meet. In the medical field, telemedicine has also been growing in relevance for the past decade.

Doctors and nurses have realized that they can offer their services through phone calls or communications in the social media platforms. When one is having a medical emergency at home or in a remote location, a friend or family member can get the necessary guidance from the doctor on how to handle the patient until such a time that they can be taken to the hospital. These services have improved healthcare provision in many countries around the world (Meil and Kirov, 2017). They have increased accessibility to medical care as it becomes apparent that sometimes all one has to do is to make a phone call.

In many countries and because of the nature of services offered, healthcare sector still needs the physical interaction between a doctor and a patient, especially if it is something that requires a greater attention than a simple consultation. Coetzee (2019) explains that most of the medical schools still emphasize the need for doctors, nurses, and clinical officers to have a physical interaction with their patients. For the patient and their loved ones, the physical interaction creates comfort and an assurance that the condition will be managed. On the other hand, the medical officer is also able to assess the condition of the patient and make better conclusions and provide an appropriate care than in a case where the process is conducted in an online platform.

When the pandemic struck, many medical officers were not prepared to deal with its consequences. One of them was the need for them to work from home. It was not an easy transition, especially those who were used to offering their services in direct contact with their patients (Korunka and Kubicek, 2017). It became apparent that they had to adjust to the new normal brought about by the pandemic. They had to learn how to use telecommunication tools to offer their services at the hospitals. These medical practitioners did not have time to train on how to work effectively in these online platforms. Most of them had not tried doing so before, especially the elderly ones who have not been keen on embracing emerging technologies in the field of communication (Chmiel, Fraccaroli and Sverke, 2017). They have had to struggle learn how to use platforms such as zoom, Skype and such other videoconferencing technologies to offer their services.

Making a sudden shift from a standard practice to one that is completely new may have devastating consequences on employees. Change is a force that one cannot avoid in an organizational setting. It helps in improving the current service delivery and empowering workers. However, it has to take a systematic approach where everyone is informed of the eminent change and trained effectively on how to handle it in a way that would eliminate any form of resistance (Korunka and Kubicek, 2017). When the process is sudden, it may have numerous psychological impacts on employees that may affect their capacity to deliver quality services as is expected by the employer.

Loneliness is one of the potential impact of teleworking on employees at a given institution. Syed and Kramar (2017) explain that when workers are forced to deliver their services from their respective homes, the social interaction that they are accustomed to will be lost. The family setting in the workplace that they have come to cherish will be eliminated. For those who relied on such friendships for social and emotional support, they will find themselves lonely at home. The experience can be worse if one is always alone at home or is in a toxic home environment. Coetzee (2019) explains that such individuals heavily rely on their friends at work to help them overcome their stress, loneliness, and other challenges at home. In this case, they have to face these challenges alone, without any proper support from those who have always been close to them.

Studies have suggested that teleworking for those who are used to physically reporting to work may cause high levels of irritability. The irritation is partly caused by their struggle to use the necessary technology that they have little knowledge about (Meil and Kirov, 2017). When a nurse who is always used to making physical appearances at the hospital is forced to use online platforms and technologies to deliver their services, they may find themselves struggling to cope. Their irritation may be worsened by the fact that they have no one to guide and assist them on how to use these new platforms. The fear of failure and possible consequences causes the irritation (Blount and Gloet, 2017). They feel that their concerns are not prioritized by the management.

Worry and guilt are some of the common psychological consequences of working from home for medical practitioners. Worry is caused by the feeling that they may not offer their services as effectively as they would when they are physically interacting with the patient (Korunka and Kubicek, 2017). The problem is that in many cases, if they make a mistake in diagnosis or administration of drugs, the effect of such mistakes can be fatal. As such, they find themselves constantly worried of making a mistake that may have devastating consequences. There is also the constant guilt that they are not putting as much effort as they would when they are physically present at the workplace. They cannot avoid potential distractions at home from children or family members. Whenever they have to stop their work temporarily because if these distractions, they always develop a sense of guilt.

Stress is emerging as another worrying impact of individuals working from home. According to Song and Gao (2020), workplace is a major positive distractions for individuals who are going through various challenges at work. When they report to their physical stations, they interact with their colleagues, share about their loves, and get the opportunity to have a break from mental and family problems. When they share with their colleagues, they may get the relevant advice on how to deal with the problem. Such opportunities are lost when they have to work from home. They have to deal with the stressors on their own, and if the source of the problem is at home, they have to face it at all times (Syed and Kramar, 2017). It explains why cases of homicide and domestic violence have increased during this period of the pandemic.

It is important to note that some individuals have reported positive impact of teleworking on employees in various institutions. While others report increased levels of stress, others have reported that they are happier working from home (Meil and Kirov, 2017). They do not have to deal with daily morning and evening pressure when going to and coming from work. They can use that extra time to address a personal issue or complete an official task. Some have reported that for the first time in their lives, they have adequate time to be with their loved ones without necessarily compromising on their work. They can have all their meals as a family, get to discuss issues that affect them, and increase the strength of the family bond. A section of these workers also believe that working from home reduces the pressure that they always have to deal with at work (Blount and Gloet, 2017). They can plan their assignments and complete them in the best way they know how without their managers dictating what needs to be done.

Discussion

Teleworking has gained massive popularity during this period of the coronavirus pandemic. In an unprecedented turn of events, the virus created an environment where it was no longer safe for people to interact freely as has been the norm. A trend of working from home that was growing steadily suddenly became the only way through which many people could continue delivering their services to their companies (Ones et al., 2018). In the healthcare sector, telemedicine became a critical approach of offering essential services to those in need. Doctors and nurses were faced with a scenario where they had to attend to their patients through teleconferencing and phone calls. It became the safest approach for them and for their patents at a time when the world was facing a unique challenge.

The new practice has had a massive impact on healthcare workers. Studies have shown that stress levels have gone high significantly during this period where people have had to work from home (Korunka and Kubicek, 2017). Domestic violence has been on the rise, and this is attributed to the rising levels of stress and frustration among workers. Some of them feel concerned about their ability to deliver the expected value when working in the online platforms. According to Lott and Abendroth (2020), some of the concerns of these workers is the fear that they may potentially lose their jobs when normalcy returns after the pandemic. During this period, many companies have devised unique means of maintaining their operations using the least number of employees possible. It is possible that through such lean operation practices, services of some of these workers may be rendered redundant.

Methodology

When planning to conduct a research project, it is essential for one to develop an effective plan on how various activities will be conducted. Such measures makes it easy to determine the kind of approach that will be taken in the investigation process. In this study, it was to collect data from both primary and secondary sources. Secondary data was collected from books and peer-reviewed journals. These sources were obtained from online databases such as JSTOR and Google Scholar. Primary data was obtained from a small sample of respondents who are currently working at King Faisal Hospital.

Sampling and Sample Size

After reviewing the literature and identifying gaps in the existing body of knowledge in this field, it will be essential to gather information from primary sources to address these gaps. The current COVID-19 pandemic makes it challenging to reach out to and physically interact with people. However, the researcher intended to reach a few workers at King Faisal Hospital who have been working from home to help understand how they have been emotionally affected by the process. The researcher seeks to interview 20 workers of this facility from different departments. Because of the small sample size and challenges that the researcher faces, judgmental sampling will be the most appropriate method of reaching out to these participants.

Data Collection Process

The approach of collecting data from these participants had to take into consideration the current coronavirus containment measures put in place by health officials. The researcher will conduct an online survey. A questionnaire will be developed based on the research aim and objectives. The document will be sent to each of the participants with clear instructions on how they need to respond to them. They will be granted 2 weeks to answer the simple questions and email back the document. The researcher intends to maintain regular communication with them during that process.

Data Analysis

When raw data has been obtained from participants, it is important to process it to ensure that it answers the specific research questions and meets the goal of the study. Information gathered from the primary sources will be analyzed using mixed research method. Quantitative analysis of the data will enable the researcher to assess the magnitude of the impact. On the other hand, qualitative analysis will facilitate a detailed explanation of the phenomenon, providing reasons why these employees are affected in a given way.

Work Plan

It is important to have a timeline of activities on how this research will be conducted. The plan is to ensure that the needed information is collected, analyzed, interpreted and presented within the time provided by the school. The first item of the activities will be the development of the proposal. Once the proposal is developed, it will be handed in for approval by the lecturer. When the approval is completed, the actual process of data collection will begin. The researcher will start by conducting a review of the literature. In the process, a questionnaire will be developed to facilitate collection of primary data from a sample of respondents. The document will be sent to the respective individuals to fill and return it within a given period. The next step will be to conduct analysis of the primary data to respond to the research aim and objectives. The final step will be to write the final report and proofread the documents before handing it in within the period provided. Table 1 below identifies the activities and a timeline within which they have to be completed.

Gantt Chart
Table 1: Gantt Chart

Conclusion

Working from home has become a popular practice during the period of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has become evident that medical practitioners can still offer critical assistance to patients while working from home. It is the only way of helping to manage the spread of the virus to these essential services providers. Despite the obvious benefits of this strategy, the study has revealed that it has a number of psychological impacts on employees. High levels of stress, loneliness, worry, guilt, and high rate of irritability were identified as some of the major consequences of teleworking.

The research is worth investigating because despite these negative consequences, it is evident that the change has been revolutionary and is likely to remain a common practice even after the pandemic is managed. It is necessary for stakeholders to fully equip their employees with skills that they need to ensure that they can work with ease in such settings. The anticipated outcome of the study will be a clear outline on how medical practitioners can be facilitated to ensure that they can embrace teleworking without having to deal with stress. It will advance existing knowledge in this field of study by outlining benefits, challenges, and how to overcome challenges in the promotion of teleworking as an emerging practice in the field of healthcare.

Reference List

Blount, Y. and Gloet, M. (2017) Anywhere working and the new era of telecommuting. New York, NY: IGI Global.

Chmiel, N., Fraccaroli, F. and Sverke, M. (eds.) (2017) An introduction to work and organizational psychology: an international perspective. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

Coetzee, M. (2019) Thriving in digital workspaces: emerging issues for research and practice. Cham: Springer.

Korunka, C. and Kubicek, B. (eds.) (2017) Job demands in a changing world of work: impact on workers’ health and performance and implications for research and practice. Cham: Springer.

Lott, T. and Abendroth, A. (2020) ‘The non-use of telework in an ideal worker culture: why women perceive more cultural barriers’, Journal Community, Work & Family, 23(5), pp. 593-611.

Meil, P. and Kirov, V. (2017) Policy implications of virtual work. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.

Ones, D. et al. (2018). The SAGE handbook of industrial, work & organizational psychology: personnel psychology and employee performance. London: SAGE Publications.

Smith, A., Patmos, S. and Pitts, J. (2018) ‘Communication and teleworking: a study of communication channel satisfaction, personality, and job satisfaction for teleworking employees’, International Journal of Business Communication, 55(1), pp. 44-68.

Song, Y. and Gao, J. (2020) ‘Does telework stress employees out: a study on working at home and subjective well-being for wage/salary workers’, Journal of Happiness Studies, 21(1), pp. 2649-2668.

Syed, J. and Kramar, R. (2017). Human resource management: a global and critical perspective. London: Palgrave.

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