The emotional labour of teleworkers conducting online counselling during Covid‐19

O'Neil, Jennifer. J.; Heidl, Britta. H.; Bratton, Andrew; Vossler, Andreas and Moller, Naomi (2023). The emotional labour of teleworkers conducting online counselling during Covid‐19. New Technology, Work and Employment (Early access).



Drawing on emotional labour theory, this paper explores the barriers to emotionally complex telework, with a specific focus on the space, interface and pace of work. We examine the working lives of mental health counsellors who adapted from in‐person delivery to online delivery whilst working from home, during the Covid‐19 pandemic. Our qualitative data set comprises of semi‐structured online interviews with 31 counsellors across the United Kingdom. Findings reveal that boundary issues, increased technical interruptions, increased screen time and associated fatigue, and increased contact‐ability due to digitalisation were key barriers to conducting emotionally complex tasks and exacerbated the emotional labour of participants creating more negative outcomes. This resulted in heightened emotion management in the home space, emotional dissonance, stress and in some cases, burn‐out.

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