Following the coronavirus pandemic, multiple societal stakeholders have debated different aspects of telework from home, and a variety of new arrangements have emerged.
Available knowledge has been scarce regarding the impact of remote work on  the “new normal” world of work.

The National Institute of Occupational Health in Norway (STAMI) has now conducted a scoping review to present existing knowledge on the associations between telework from home with work environment and health.

STAMI also conducted an evidence synthesis on this topic in 2021. The new report provides an updated overview of relevant research, with several Norwegian and Nordic studies added to the knowledge base.

New findings support existing knowledge

During the pandemic, the complexities of telework from home became apparent. Remote work appeared to have both positive and negative impacts on working conditions and well-being. STAMI therefore recommended caution to businesses when creating guidelines for such working arrangements.

Our recommendation was to tailor arrangements to the nature of the tasks to be performed. Telework from home may be particularly well-suited to individual work tasks that require prolonged concentration but poorly suited to more collaborative tasks.

The institute’s advice was to balance the extent of remote work from home to find the middle ground between “too little” and “too much”, allowing flexibility while avoiding work isolation. Furthermore, STAMI emphasised that companies may want to maintain functional office premises available to all employees. There may be advantages to establishing remote work as a flexible opportunity rather than a forced work arrangement.

These are all important elements of creating a healthy and productive work environment that benefit businesses as well as individual employees.

– The latest report from STAMI supports our previous recommendations. It doesn’t give any indications that our assessments have to be changed. On the contrary, it strengthens them,” says STAMI- director Therese N. Hanvold.

A complex phenomenon

– Our findings show that we can not perceive telework from home, or home offices, as a single, uniform factor. Rather, working from home can be compared to working in a diversity of other office solutions – with an intricate set of factors affecting the work environment, says researcher Håkon Johannessen from STAMI.

Telework from home appears to be a complex phenomenon. This complexity makes it challenging to draw an overarching conclusion and to develop simple and specific guidelines for such working arrangements.

However, the evidence helps to refine the guiding principles that should be used by businesses when organising work outside the company premises.

Both negative and positive consequences

Telework from home can improve employee job control and increase flexibility to balance demands defined by work and personal life.

It is also associated with experiencing support from management, with stronger commitment to the organization, and with feeling cared for by the organization.

At the same time, telework from home is linked to negative factors such as experiencing increased workload and availability expectations, less support from colleagues, greater role ambiguity, and role conflict.

– The fact that flexibility can have both positive and negative consequences constitutes a flexibility paradox that one should be aware of, says Hanvold.

Many employees in today’s world of work want to work from home to a certain degree, and many workplaces offer this opportunity.

It is important to note that although flexible working methods like telework from home often are perceived positively by employees, they can become challenging over time. How one addresses this problem will determine what is gained and what is lost for each company.

– Therefore, the focus should not solely be on whether or not telework from home is beneficial to the work environment and occupational health. What matters is how the individual business plans, organises, and implements the use of such working arrangements, says the STAMI director.

Clarifying expectations

Going forward, it will be important for businesses to achieve a clear mutual understanding of the expectations and limitations associated with telework from home.

This will apply to areas such as the location for work, time frames and working hours, expectations regarding work during illness, management follow-up, and common forums.

Clarifying who is responsible for setting these boundaries and how to organise telework from home is also crucial.

Furthermore, businesses should strive to find the balance between offering flexibility to individual employees and maintaining good work environments, with regard to experience sharing, constructive collaboration, productivity, and continuity at the actual workplace.

– Decisions about telework from home should be based on thorough considerations, with the goal of creating the best possible conditions for the business. And the use of home offices should be planned in a way that accounts for both the positive and negative factors in the working environment, says Johannessen.


Telework from home means office work carried out by employees outside the employer’s premises, in the employee’s home. The knowledge summary does not include the experiences of self-employed people or students.

Work environment refers to the psychosocial aspects of the work. The knowledge summary does not include studies of physical or ergonomic aspects of home office work.

Occupational health includes all types of physical and mental health effects that have been studied in connection with telework from home.

The primary purpose of this review was to examine whether new scientific articles that studied the relationships between telework from home, the work environment, and occupational health had been published since the 2021 report. We aimed to provide an overview of the number of studies, their characteristics, the relevant aspects investigated, and any associations found.

The investigation was conducted through a systematic literature search in international research databases. This was an adjusted search based on the search principles from the 2021 report. We searched for scientific articles published after 2021.

The search and selection of articles were carried out in two stages:

For articles with data collected in the contexts of “normal situation before the pandemic” and “during the pandemic,” we included longitudinal studies where participants were followed and measured multiple times. This was done to follow up on the findings from the 2021 report, which highlighted the need for such data to better understand associations over time.

For articles with data collected in the context of the “normal situation after the pandemic,” we also included cross-sectional studies, where participants’ exposure to telework from home and outcomes were measured simultanously. This was done due to the lack of basic knowledge about the “new normal”. We therefore chose to search more broadly for information about this period.

The categorization of the context in which data were collected (before, during, or after the pandemic) was based on a comprehensive assessment of how the authors themselves described the situation.

After removing duplicates, the search resulted in 4857 articles for evaluation based on the predetermined criteria. Our review identified 37 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals about telework from home, work environment, and occupational health published after 2021. In all the publications, measurements were done at several points.

Three of the articles were based on data collected in Norway. Among other Nordic countries, three were from Finland, and one from Denmark. From Europe, we found five articles from the United Kingdom, three from Germany, three from the Netherlands, one from Portugal, one from Switzerland, and one article with data from participants in five different European countries (Sweden, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain). The remaining data were collected in Japan (5), the USA (4), Australia (3), China (1), Canada (1), Thailand (1), and South Korea (1).

> Read the scoping review (Norwegian)