Digitalization and workplace health management: Opportunities and challenges for managers



During the COVID-19 pandemic, the advantages and disadvantages of WFH have become even more relevant, as the number of people WFH has increased radically during the national lockdowns (Emmett et al., 2020; Eurofound, 2020; ILO, 2020; NHS-UK, 2020; Wang et al., 2020). Although employees and managers function differently and telework affects both actors, much of the current telework literature focuses solely on the advantages and disadvantages from the employee perspective where only a few studies show that managers were more challenged than employees were (Kirchner et al., 2021).  It is well established that managers drive and have an impact on successful interventions (Helland et al., 2021), short-term sickness absence (Norvell Gustavsson et al., 2021) etc.

As workplaces across the world will allow for more flexibility and studies show that their wellbeing has an effect on employee wellbeing (Skakon et al., 2010, 2011) then there is an issue that should be addressed. The questions remain how managers perceive this change, what the benefits are and challenges and how the organizations approach and manage the change including the concern for workplace health. This indicates a gap in the existing literature and creates a pathway for the exploration of advantages and disadvantages of telework when acting in a management role as a distance manager.


Potential topic areas

This Special Issue is a call to deepen our understanding of managers’ experiences of this transition and the management of workplace health in particular focusing on the managers when changes are introduced for example: new digital technologies, algorithmic management, performance systems, AI, new ways of working, hybrid-remote work, reduced number of days in the office, 4 day work week etc.

  • How is this transition experienced? How does it affect managers’ role, well-being and mental health?
  • How do workplaces deal with the managers’ experiences?
  • What support is given to the managers during this transition?
  • How does the organization learn from their experience? And what are the organizational capabilities needed?

First, this Special Issue aims to highlight and synthesize the experiences of managers’ wellbeing.

Second, it aims to explore how these experiences can be redefined and embedded into how management jobs are redesigned and how that can be supported. Furthermore, how do we build organizations for the benefit of both health and performance for both employees and managers?

We are interested in original research articles and case studies by researchers and practitioners in this area. Some themes of interest include but are not limited to:

  • The management of hybrid work, such as working from home/telework and onsite – benefits and challenges for managers
  • Organisational support and its influence on job satisfaction and well-being of managers
  • Manager’s experiences of digital transition i.e. AI, algorithmic management, data-driven work and organization, virtual collaboration.
  • Changes in managerial behaviors that can help to maintain gains and minimize losses of the new ways of working
  • Implications for workplace health management when new technologies are being implemented
  • The impact of the new methods of work on dispersed and diverse teams and their management
  • Any other gains and lessons that can help us to redefine work, health, performance, and their management

We welcome empirical or conceptual papers based on any type of methodological approach. The aim and key criterion is to deepen our understanding of managers’ experiences with and role in digitalization and new ways of working and how workplaces are to manage and ensure the managers’ health and performance and consequently the employees’ ditto.

Keywords: Digitalisation, self-efficacy, role clarity, perceived organizational support, wellbeing, stress, performance, HR management, the role of technology, hybrid-remote work, work-extensification,


Guest Editors

Christine Ipsen,

Technical University of Denmark, Denmark,

[email protected] 

Christine Ipsen, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU). She has led several research projects in collaboration with the industry focusing on sustainable work and management. Her research has been published in several books and papers. Since 2015, her research has focused on distance management. In March 2020, she initiated an international survey of experiences of WFH and co-edited a special issue on “Reshaping work and workplaces: learnings from the pandemic for workplace health management” with Dr. Maria Karanika-Murray, NTU, UK. Dr. Ipsen’s current research projects focus on distance managers’ well-being, how organizations can support them, and how to design organizations that can ensure both organizational performance and employee well-being. 


Kathrin Kirchner,

Technical University of Denmark, Denmark,

[email protected] 

Kathrin Kirchner is Associate Professor at the Technical University of Denmark. Her research comprises knowledge work, virtual collaboration, artificial intelligence and digital platforms, ensuring employees' and managers’ psycho-social well-being. She is co-editor of the International Journal of Workplace Health Management.


Submissions Information

Submissions are made using ScholarOne Manuscripts. Registration and access are available at:

Author guidelines must be strictly followed. Please see:

Authors should select (from the drop-down menu) the special issue title at the appropriate step in the submission process, i.e. in response to ““Please select the issue you are submitting to”. 

Submitted articles must not have been previously published, nor should they be under consideration for publication anywhere else, while under review for this journal.



Emmett, J., Schrah, G., Schrimper, M., & Wood, A. (2020). COVID-19 and the employee experience: How leaders can seize the moment.

Eurofound. (2020, September 28). Living, working and COVID-19, COVID-19 series. COVID-19 Series.

Helland, E., Christensen, M., Innstrand, S. T., & Nielsen, K. (2021). Line managers’ middle-levelness and driving proactive behaviors in organizational interventions. International Journal of Workplace Health Management, 14(6).

ILO. (2020). Teleworking during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond A Practical Guide.

Kirchner, K., Ipsen, C., & Hansen, J. P. (2021). COVID-19 Leadership Challenges in Knowledge Work. Knowledge Management Research & Practice.

National Health Services - UK. (2020). Mental Wellbeing While Staying At Home | Every Mind Matters | One You.

Norvell Gustavsson, I., Müssener, U., & Ståhl, C. (2021). Acting the part: how social and organisational factors shape managers’ actions towards employees with repeated short-term sickness absence. International Journal of Workplace Health Management, 14(6).

Skakon, J., Kristensen, T. S., Christensen, K. B., Lund, T., & Labriola, M. (2011). Do managers experience more stress than employees? Results from the Intervention Project on Absence and Well-being (IPAW) study among Danish managers and their employees. Work, 38, 103–109.

Skakon, J., Nielsen, K., Borg, V., & Guzman, J. (2010). Are leaders’ well-being, behaviours and style associated with the affective well-being of their employees? A systematic review of three decades of research. Work and Stress, 24(2).

Wang, G., Zhang, Y., Zhao, J., Zhang, J., & Jiang, F. (2020). Mitigate the effects of home confinement on children during the COVID-19 outbreak. In The Lancet (Vol. 395, Issue 10228, pp. 945–947). Lancet Publishing Group.


Key Deadlines

Opening date for manuscripts submissions: 01/10/2022
Closing date for manuscripts submission: 01/12/2022    

For additional information or queries about this special issue, please contact the co-editors Dr Kathrin Kirchner, [email protected], or Dr Christine Ipsen, [email protected].