Remote work and human resources challenges from the Covid-19 pandemic scenario: The cases of Italy and Portugal




Remote Work, Human Resources Challenges, Case Study, Covid-19 Pandemic, Portugal, Italy, EURECA Project.


This study presents the preliminary results of a European project (EURECA) being carried out in Italy and Portugal. One of its aims is to understand the role of remote work arising from the recent pandemic. The question that drove this research was: What is the role of remote work resulting from the emergent changes of the 2019 pandemic scenario in Portuguese and Italian organisations?. Case studies were used as the methodological approach, and the qualitative and inductive work directed the research, guided by the assumptions of practice-based theory. Thus, interviews were conducted with human resource managers and/or directors of companies/public institutions. So far, the sample comprises 16 organisations. The results show that before the crisis, which lasted about two years, most organisations did not engage in remote work. Afterwards, human resources practices had to adapt to this new reality, and hybrid work (a combination of remote and face-to-face work) is currently present in most of the organisations studied. New challenges are also appearing in this area, including new information systems, career management, and training and performance evaluation, among others. Hence, this new model of work design also brings new challenges to organisations and management. The implications pressing issue are several: practical (for management and organisations); theoretical (new inputs on HR practices, remote working and change management); and methodological (reinforcing the importance of case studies and practice-based theory in a comparative analysis of the Portuguese and Italian contexts). Avenues for further research are also proposed.

Author Biographies

Piteira Margarida, SOCIUS - Research Centre in Economics and Organizational Sociology

Margarida Piteira is professor at Lisbon Accounting and Business School (ISCAL, Portugal) and has a Ph. D. in Economics and Organizational Sociology (ISEG/ University of Lisbon). Researcher at Socius (Research Centre in Economics and Organizational Sociology). Her research areas are innovation, creativity and human resources management.

Sara Cervai, Department of Social and Political Sciences, University of Trieste, Trieste, Italy

Sara Cervai is associate professor in Work and Organizational Psychology at University of Trieste, Italy. Editor of the Journal of Workplace Learning. Her main research topics are training and learning evaluation models, TQM, wellbeing, organizational culture, compassionate leadership, in particular applied to Healthcare and Public Administration.

Rosana Duarte, ISCAL/Polytechnic of Lisboa, Lisboa, Portugal

Rosana Duarte is a Master’s student at Lisbon Accounting and Business School (ISCAL, Portugal) in Management and Entrepreneurship. She holds a post-graduation in this scientific area and a Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition (Lisbon School of Health Technologies). Her research areas are human resources management, general management, and career development.

Kiall Hildred, Faculdade de Ciências Humanas, Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Lisboa, Portugal

Kiall Hildred is a Master’s student at Universidade Católica Portuguesa and research grant recipient in the EURECA Project. He holds degrees in Psychology, Behavioural Economics and Publishing and Communications from Australian universities and writes essays and articles on science, economics, psychology and philosophy. He also works as a freelance copywriter.

Joana Carneiro Pinto, Faculdade de Ciências Humanas, Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Lisboa, Portugal

Joana Carneiro Pinto is Professor at Faculty of Human Sciences of Universidade Católica Portuguesa where she coordinates the Careers Office and the Master's in Psychology in Business and Economics. Her research areas are the development of life/career projects, namely, transition to the labour market, telework and transition to retirement.