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The Benefits of Being Proactive While Working Remotely: Leveraging Self-Leadership and Job Crafting to Achieve Higher Work Engagement and Task Significance

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Given the growing number of remote and hybrid working arrangements, this research investigates the process and outcomes of proactivity during remote work. We approach proactivity during remote working as a resource-building process and integrate self-leadership and job crafting literature. We propose that employees' self-leadership allows them to regulate their resources optimally, enabling resource availability that can be used to arrange remote working demands and resources proactively. We collected three-wave data from remote workers (n = 329 observations) and tested our hypotheses using multilevel analyses. Results differed by level of analysis. Specifically, at the between level, comparing behaviors between participants, social expansion mediated the relationship between self-goal setting and task significance. In contrast, at the within level (analyzing differences in behavior within the same person), social expansion mediated the relationship between self-goal setting and work engagement. Overall, these findings suggest that self-leadership allows higher availability of resources enabling the proactive initiation of social interactions, which, at the within level enhance work engagement, and at the between level improve task significance during remote work. We discuss these findings considering the implications for interventions to foster more positive remote-work experiences.
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Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 1 April 2022 | Volume 13 | Article 833776
ORIGINAL RESEARCH
published: 25 April 2022
doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.833776
Edited by:
Antje Schmitt,
University of Groningen, Netherlands
Reviewed by:
Mariaelena Bertani,
Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria
Integrata Verona, Italy
Giovanni Masino,
University of Ferrara, Italy
Joris Van Ruysseveldt,
Open University of the Netherlands,
Netherlands
Azlyn Ahmad Zawawi,
MARA University of Technology,
Malaysia
*Correspondence:
Arianna Costantini
arianna.costantini@unitn.it
Specialty section:
This article was submitted to
Organizational Psychology,
a section of the journal
Frontiers in Psychology
Received: 12 December 2021
Accepted: 04 April 2022
Published: 25 April 2022
Citation:
Costantini A and Weintraub J (2022)
The Benets of Being Proactive While
Working Remotely: Leveraging Self-
Leadership and Job Crafting to
Achieve Higher Work Engagement
and Task Signicance.
Front. Psychol. 13:833776.
doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.833776
The Benets of Being Proactive
While Working Remotely: Leveraging
Self-Leadership and Job Crafting to
Achieve Higher Work Engagement
and Task Signicance
AriannaCostantini
1
* and JaredWeintraub
2
1 Department of Psychology and Cognitive Science, University of Trento, Rovereto, Italy, 2 The Flow Group, LLC, New York,
NY, United States
Given the growing number of remote and hybrid working arrangements, this research
investigates the process and outcomes of proactivity during remote work. Weapproach
proactivity during remote working as a resource-building process and integrate self-leadership
and job crafting literature. Wepropose that employees’ self-leadership allows them to regulate
their resources optimally, enabling resource availability that can beused to arrange remote
working demands and resources proactively. Wecollected three-wave data from remote
workers (n = 329 observations) and tested our hypotheses using multilevel analyses. Results
differed by level of analysis. Specically, at the between level, comparing behaviors between
participants, social expansion mediated the relationship between self-goal setting and task
signicance. In contrast, at the within level (analyzing differences in behavior within the same
person), social expansion mediated the relationship between self-goal setting and work
engagement. Overall, these ndings suggest that self-leadership allows higher availability of
resources enabling the proactive initiation of social interactions, which, at the within level
enhance work engagement, and at the between level improve task signicance during remote
work. Wediscuss these ndings considering the implications for interventions to foster more
positive remote-work experiences.
Keywords: remote work, self-leadership, job crafting, task signicance, COVID-19, work engagement
INTRODUCTION
e outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic led millions of people across the world into remote
work, with remote and hybrid working arrangements becoming the “new normal” almost
overnight (Wang et al., 2020; Knin et al., 2021; Becker et al., 2022). is situation poses
new challenges to understanding the processes and outcomes of remote work since it is no
longer based on individual arrangements and specic requests but represents an entirely new
context of work (Wang et al., 2020). To address these challenges and further knowledge on
the new context of work, researchers started investigating how “virtual” work characteristics
shape work, with remote work understood as a setting that profoundly re-shapes work
Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 2 April 2022 | Volume 13 | Article 833776
Costantini and Weintraub Proactivity During Remote Work
characteristics and experiences (Bailey and Kurland, 2002; Wa ng
et al., 2020).
Literature provides initial evidence for the importance of
self-discipline as a means of dealing with the challenges of
remote work and mitigating the demands which undermine
employee wellbeing (Wang et al., 2020). Yet, the understanding
of how people manage themselves when working remotely has
been largely omitted in previous studies and is particularly
limited when considering the new ways of working that took
shape aer the outbreak of COVID-19 (Wang et al., 2020;
Becker etal., 2022). is lack of knowledge on how proactivity
unfolds during remote work aer COVID-19 is particularly
relevant. Working remotely represents a “weak” situation, where
employees have high levels of autonomy, the goals (nor the
means to achieve them) are not clearly specied, and the
attainment of these goals is oen unlinked to predened rewards
(Mischel and Shoda, 1995). Moreover, given that this new
context of work seems characterized by less frequent interactions
between leaders and employees (Gibbs et al., 2021) and that
close monitoring during remote work is shown to have adverse
eects on employees’ wellbeing (Wang etal., 2020), it is crucial
to gain a better understanding of the role of self-leadership
for proactivity during remote work aer COVID-19.
In this study, we use a quantitative diary approach and
follow remote workers weekly to investigate how their strategies
to lead and manage themselves toward performance during
remote working enable higher resources to cra their work
and experience higher work engagement and task signicance.
Webuild on self-regulatory and proactivity research to integrate
self-leadership (Manz, 1986; Houghton and Neck, 2002) and
job craing literature (Wrzesniewski and Dutton, 2001), and
propose that employees’ self-leadership allows them to optimally
regulate their resources. We further propose that this process
enables resource availability that can be used to proactively
arrange remote-work characteristics (i.e., job craing), which
leads to positive remote-work experiences.
We aim to contribute to the literature as follows: First,
weintegrate self-leadership and job craing research, and place
it in the context of remote working during the pandemic.
Weargue that when remote workers use self-leadership strategies
more oen, they are better equipped to proactively cra their
virtual work environment, leading to higher wellbeing. In doing
so, this research oers a better understanding of the role of
self-leadership in improving remote workers’ ability to deal
with and positively alter their work environment proactively.
Unpacking such processes of self-leadership and proactivity,
and their link with work-related wellbeing during remote
working is timely and relevant. Remote-work arrangements
are likely to be used much more in the future, with positive
net eects depending on whether they are implemented well
(Gibbs et al., 2021).
Second, wecontribute to job craing research by investigating
the mediating role of job craing as a factor linking self-
leadership, work engagement, and task signicance in the
context of remote working. Although job craing research has
to date acknowledged that job craing arises from the interplay
between a person and his/her work context (Parker etal., 2010),
previous studies accounted for the role of (external) leadership
(i.e., Lichtenthaler and Fischbach, 2018; un and Bakker,
2018), but only partially for self-inuencing strategies that help
people to take charge of their own motivation and performance
(Neck and Houghton, 2006). Shedding light on the link between
self-leadership and job craing during remote working is
important for the development of work proactivity research,
for HRM practices to discover which self-regulation strategies
enable individuals to better deal with their “virtual” work
environment and to gain a better understanding of the underlying
mechanisms that make them eective. While studies in traditional
working contexts have established the link between job craing
and work engagement (cf. Zhang and Parker, 2019; Costantini
et al., 2021), to the best of our knowledge, the eects of job
craing on task signicance during remote working remain
unexplored. Task signicance refers to the degree to which
employees perceive their job has a substantial impact on the
lives or work of other people, whether in the immediate
organization or in the external environment (Hackman and
Oldham, 1975). Understanding the link between job craing
and task signicance during remote working is relevant to
shed light on whether and how job craing has the potential
to alter employees’ perceptions and (re)interpretation of the
signicance of their work (Wrzesniewski et al., 2013) when
working from home. is is important to provide avenues for
remote-work design and HRM policies and practices aimed
at sustaining ones sense of purpose, an aspect that, research
shows, can be negatively impacted when remote working is
suddenly introduced amid crisis (Ouwerkerk and Bartels, 2020).
ird, by using a diary method, weexamine the dynamics
of self-regulatory processes during remote working between
individuals, as well as how an individuals’ own experience
changes over time. Namely, weshed light on how job craing
leads to work engagement and task signicance based on
general dierences between people and weekly changes in
individuals’ experiences. In doing so, we complement the
study of between-person dierences with a within-person
approach with the aim of enriching the literature on proactive
work design for positive remote working experiences. Hence,
this study advances knowledge on whether the proactive and
self-regulatory processes during remote work are consistent—
homologous—across dierent levels of analysis (cf. Gabriel
et al., 2019), improving the understanding and theoretical
development of job craing and self-leadership literature.
Recent cross-sectional research conducted during the pandemic
suggested that self-discipline may bean important factor for
remote workers to utilize the social resources from work to
reduce loneliness (Wang etal., 2020). In the present research,
we advance such literature by presenting three-wave
longitudinal data and shed light on how weekly variations
from employees’ baseline use of self-leadership strategies
during remote working have implications for their involvement
in job craing—including the proactive initiation of social
interactions—and its resulting outcomes. Such an analysis is
relevant to inform theory and policy development by showing
how self-leadership behaviors relate to job craing variations
during remote working, considering dierences between people,
Costantini and Weintraub Proactivity During Remote Work
Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 3 April 2022 | Volume 13 | Article 833776
while also examining weekly variations in individual
experiences. Figure 1 shows the overarching model of the
present study.
THEORETICAL BACKGROUND
Self-Leadership
Self-leadership is a process through which individuals exert
self-inuence over their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors at
work (Harari et al., 2021). Drawing on insights from classical
self-regulation and self-control theories (Bandura, 1986; Carver
and Scheier, 1998), self-leadership theory proposes that self-
inuence strategies serve to establish intrinsic motivation,
resulting in enhanced individual performance (Manz, 1986).
Specically, the self-leadership perspective emphasizes that
individuals self-direct themselves not only to achieve externally
dened goals and standards, but also to self-inuence and
establish intrinsic motivation leading to desired performance
results (Manz, 1986). rough self-leadership, people achieve
the self-direction and self-motivation necessary to perform
(Neck and Houghton, 2006, p. 271). Hence, self-
leadership strategies allow employees to engage in activities they
want to—rather than they only feel they should—perform
(Manz, 1986).
Existing literature recognizes three self-leadership strategies
that can be used to achieve self-direction and motivation
(Houghton and Neck, 2002; Harari et al., 2021): behavior-
focused strategies, constructive thought pattern strategies, and
natural reward strategies. Specically, behavior-focused strategies
enhance self-awareness for the management of one’s behaviors,
constructive thought pattern strategies center on forming habitual
constructive thoughts emphasizing positive outcomes, and natural
reward strategies emphasize the enjoyable aspects of a given
task or activity (Houghton and Neck, 2002; Harari etal., 2021).
Meta-analytic evidence shows that these various self-leadership
strategies contribute dierently toward particular outcome
variables, with behavioral strategies contributing more toward
regulating behavioral outcomes (Harari et al., 2021). Since in
this study weare interested in understanding how self-leadership
contributes to employees’ proactive behaviors during remote
working, we focus on self-leadership behavioral strategies. In
the context of COVID-19, characterized by a widespread and
abrupt change to remote work (Becker et al., 2022), weexpect
individuals who could eectively set goals for themselves and
reinforce their own positive, desirable behaviors during remote
working to bebetter equipped to initiate the proactive redesign
of their remote—or virtual—work characteristics.
Job Crafting
Self-leadership literature recognizes that individuals may re-frame
certain aspects of the performance process to establish enhanced
motivational potential for work performance (Manz, 1986,
p. 594). is, in turn, may serve to prompt proactive job
redesign to improve the t between the individual and the
job when employees transform their work motivation into
desired behaviors (Zeijen etal., 2018). In other words, wepropose
that while self-leadership denes the self-inuencing process
prompting individuals to redene certain aspects of the
performance process to build intrinsic motivation, once those
self-leadership strategies are activated, individuals may follow
up by engaging in job redesign eorts that focus on redefining
the job characteristics to make their work better t their own
needs and preferences.
We shed light on these dynamics and dig into such
performance and motivational enhancing processes by
investigating how self-leadership prompts proactive work redesign
in terms of job craing behaviors during remote working. Job
craing describes the proactive, self-initiated changes in job
boundaries aimed at improving one’s job and nding more
meaning in it (Wrzesniewski and Dutton, 2001; Bruning and
Campion, 2018). Research shows that job craing can take
several forms: employees may alter the number of tasks they
have or the content of these tasks, they may change the amount
and intensity of the relationships they have at work, or they
may re-frame their thoughts about the aspects that give meaning
to their job (Wrzesniewski and Dutton, 2001; Tims and Bakker,
2010). Importantly, these strategies do not refer to the redesign
of the job as a whole, but to changing certain aspects or
making small alterations that can impact the achievement of
work goals (Tims and Bakker, 2010). Literature on job craing
shows that many of these strategies focus on active changes
to one’s job to achieve future-oriented goals—also referred to
as approach-oriented job craing (Bruning and Campion,
2018)—which result in optimized work environments leading
to higher work engagement and performance outcomes (Bakker
and Oerlemans, 2019; Zhang and Parker, 2019; Costantini
et al., 2021).
In this study, we focus on two job craing strategies that
reect active, eortful, problem-focused, and improvement-based
goals. ese approaches are referred to as work organization
and social expansion strategies (Bruning and Campion, 2018).
Work organization involves the active design of systems and
strategies to organize the tangible elements of work and can
include managing behavior or physical surroundings to increase
structural job resources (Tims etal., 2012; Bruning and Campion,
2018). Examples of work organization are making sure of having
FIGURE1 | Model of remote working proactivity processes and outcomes.
Costantini and Weintraub Proactivity During Remote Work
Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 4 April 2022 | Volume 13 | Article 833776
one’s tools laid out and ready to beused for work, organizing
procedures, adding or dropping tasks, reviewing, and preparing
the upcoming bundle of tasks (Wrzesniewski et al., 2013;
Bruning and Campion, 2018). Dierently, social expansion
occurs within the social domain of work and involves changing
the scope, number, and nature of social relationships within
one’s work. Behaviors in this domain involve systematic feedback-
seeking or changing how one interacts with others, also changing
the boundaries around social activities. For example, in order
to get the work done, employees may nd ways to relate to
their co-workers by getting to know them better, spending
more time with the preferred ones, or seek support from people
in the work environment (Wrzesniewski et al., 2013; Bruning
and Campion, 2018; Breevaart and Tims, 2019). In the context
of the pandemic, these relational proactive behaviors are
particularly relevant because they increase feelings of social
connectedness and provide additional opportunities to stay
socially connected, despite spatial dispersion and isolation
(Knin et al., 2021; Rudolph et al., 2021).
Self-Leadership and Job Crafting
As a proactive behavior, job craing is part of a goal-driven
process involving setting a proactive goal and striving to achieve
it (Parker et al., 2010). Specically, proactive goal generation
consists of envisioning and planning a goal under one’s own
volition meaning that proactive goal generation is self-initiated
and signals psychological ownership of change (Wagner et al.,
2003; Parker etal., 2010). Previous research shows that individuals
with long-term goals and a focus on growth are more likely
to engage in job craing later (Kooij et al., 2017a) and that
self-goal setting positively mediates the motivating power of
work engagement on job craing (Zeijen etal., 2018). Accordingly,
we expect employees scoring high on self-goal setting to
bestimulated to cra their work proactively (Zeijen etal., 2018).
Moreover, according to proactivity literature, when individuals
identify the positive outcomes from their own behaviors and
provide self-rewards for these, they are likely to experience
positive aect, which will then reinforce their desired actions,
energizing themselves to initiate further job craing behaviors
(Parker etal., 2010). Specically, self-rewards represent promises
people make to themselves if they persist and accomplish a
particular task, spanning from quite mundane “self-gis” such
as a cup of coee or gaming, to treating oneself to a luxury
good, such as buying an expensive pair of shoes or an exclusive
bottle of wine (Koch et al., 2014).
In the context of remote working, such a self-motivating
process becomes particularly relevant, since goal attainment
is oen not clearly linked to rewards (Grin et al., 2007;
Parker et al., 2010), and individuals need to capitalize on
their own self-regulation and personal resources to optimally
orchestrate their job resources (Wang etal., 2020) and experience
wellbeing outcomes. Hence, we expect the self-leadership
strategies of self-goal setting and self-reward as mechanisms
that dierently empower job craing eorts by sustaining
intrinsic and extrinsic motivational processes that bolster
individual proactivity. Whereas self-goal setting constitutes a
behavioral strategy generating intrinsic motivational processes
that may encourage action (Locke and Latham, 1990), self-
reward represents an internal regulatory strategy that is
supported externally (Stewart etal., 2011). is complements
intrinsic motivational processes in providing the resources
needed to proactively arrange the virtual work characteristics
in a way that may lead to improved positive work-
related outcomes.
Against this background, we propose that during remote
work, employees reporting higher levels of self-goal setting
and self-rewards will bemore likely to initiate social interactions
and proactively organize the tangible elements of their work.
As such, employees who utilize these strategies are more highly
motivated, which allows them to better leverage their available
resources toward reorganizing their work tasks and interactions.
Hypothesis 1: Self-goal setting is positively associated
with (a) social expansion and (b) work organization.
Hypothesis 2: Self-rewards are positively associated with
(a) social expansion and (b) work organization.
Job Crafting, Work Engagement, and Task
Signicance
rough job craing, employees pursue positive end-states,
anticipating the gain of interesting tasks and social relationships,
while fullling their basic psychological needs in terms of
autonomy and relatedness, resulting in higher work engagement
(Lichtenthaler and Fischbach, 2019). Work engagement refers
to a positive, fullling, work-related state of mind characterized
by high levels of energy, dedication, and absorption in ones
work (Schaufeli et al., 2019). In the context of remote work,
engaging in informal communication with colleagues has been
shown to bepositively related to job satisfaction (Fay and Kline,
2011), where the initiation of social interactions can reduce
loneliness due to the reduction of informal social exchanges
(Wang et al., 2020). Similarly, employees who are better able
to organize the tangible elements of their remote work create
additional resources by optimally conguring the resources they
already have; hence, creating ecient work processes that positively
impact their energy levels and eventually foster work engagement.
Based on these arguments and drawing on meta-analytic
evidence supporting the positive link between approach-oriented
job craing and work engagement (Rudolph et al., 2017;
Lichtenthaler and Fischbach, 2019; Zhang and Parker, 2019),
we expect remote working job craing to be positively linked
to work engagement.
Hypothesis 3: (a) Social expansion and (b) work
organization are positively associated with work
engagement.
Overall, adopting a self-inuencing perspective to the
management of one’s work motivation and job characteristics
(Manz, 1986), we expect that job craing will mediate the
relationship between self-leadership and work engagement. In the
Costantini and Weintraub Proactivity During Remote Work
Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 5 April 2022 | Volume 13 | Article 833776
context of a relative absence of immediate external constraints
(oresen and Mahoney, 1974), such as during remote working,
individuals who establish targets for their work and build their
own intrinsic motivational drivers will benet from higher resource
availability (Hobfoll, 2002) that can be invested to redesign one’s
job to make it more organized and proactively create a social
psychological work context contributing to the natural enjoyment
of task performance (Manz, 1986). Hence, we propose self-
leadership as a strategy that provides remote workers the inner
motivation and focus to alter their environment proactively through
job craing, thereby enabling higher work engagement. In support
of this, previous research in non-remote-work contexts shows
that when employees use self-management strategies, they create
a more resource-rich work environment, which in turn initiate
a motivational process whereby employees are more engaged in
their work (Xanthopoulou et al., 2009; Breevaart et al., 2014):
Hypothesis 4: (a) Social expansion and (b) work
organization mediate the relationship between self-goal
setting and work engagement.
Hypothesis 5: (a) Social expansion and (b) work
organization mediate the relationship between self-
rewards and work engagement.
During the pandemic, remote workers found themselves
separated physically from their colleagues, customers, and normal
workplace, alone with their computers, sporadically touching
base remotely with those they used to see regularly (Gino and
Cable, 2020). In a context where social gatherings have been
forbidden, even limited social resources can have had strong
positive eects on positive work outcomes (Wang et al., 2020),
helping employees re-establish the purpose and value in their
work tasks. A general tenet of job craing research is that
employees who cra their work make it more signicant and
meaningful, craing more interesting job tasks, and inspiring
relationships (Wrzesniewski and Dutton, 2001; Lichtenthaler and
Fischbach, 2019). is happens because the meaningfulness of
one’s work—that is, its purpose and value (cf. Grant, 2008)—acts
as a lens through which employees understand and respond to
their work. rough this lens, employees constantly evaluate
whether they believe that their work contributes to making the
world a better place, allows them to interact with people in
ways that create signicant contributions, or that the work
provides an opportunity to earn a living (Wrzesniewski et al.,
1997). As employees proactively change the task and relational
components of their jobs, the emphasis of their activities and
interactions shis in ways that can profoundly impact their
experience of the work and their understanding of the
meaningfulness of it, which comes from employees’ perceptions
of task signicance (Grant, 2008; Wrzesniewski et al., 2013).
Research shows that task signicance can be rooted in both
characteristics of the job itself (Hackman and Oldham, 1975;
Grant, 2007) and relational mechanisms, with relationships being
sources of task signicance perceptions by connecting one’s job
and actions to other people (Zalesny and Ford, 1990), while
the relational aspects also enhance perceptions of social impact
and social worth (Grant, 2008). Following this reasoning, employees
who craed their remote working experiences during the pandemic
may have had higher chances of getting more resource value
out of their set of tasks (Bruning and Campion, 2018) and
build task signicance as a subjective judgment that is socially
constructed in interpersonal interactions (Grant, 2008). us,
weexpect employees’ job craing activities during remote working
will result in boosting task signicance experienced in their work.
Hypothesis 6: (a) Social expansion and (b) work
organization are positively associated with task
signicance.
Altogether, self-leadership strategies will serve to build intrinsic
motivation by enhancing one’s feelings of competence and self-
control (Deci, 1975; Manz, 1986) which, by enabling job craing
activities that alter job processes and the social context of work,
enhance feelings of task signicance. at is, based on the inner
driving forces built through self-leadership, individuals will beable
to alter the boundaries of their jobs in ways that allow them
to experience and realize their purpose in work (Wrzesniewski
et al., 2013) thereby experiencing higher task signicance as a
sense of purpose and beliefs in their work as an impactful
activity. Hence, we further propose that job craing mediates
the role of self-leadership in enhancing task signicance, with
self-leadership strategies serving to create an inner driving force
to cra activities that are more personally meaningful and
rewarding (Manz, 1986).
Hypothesis 7: (a) Social expansion and (b) work
organization mediate the relationship between self-goal
setting and task signicance.
Hypothesis 8: (a) Social expansion and (b) work
organization mediate the relationship between self-
rewards and task signicance.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Procedure and Participants
Weekly diary data were collected over 3 weeks among employees
working in a company oering services for the architecture
and engineering of infrastructural networks located in Italy.
At the time of the study, remote-work schedules were arranged
in agreement with line managers. During the weeks of data
collection, participants reported having worked remotely for,
on average, 28.59 h/week (SD = 14.47).
All employees (n = 208) were invited to participate in the
research by the HR managers, who mailed them an invitation
with a link to the first online survey and information about
the study. Participants were informed that their participation
was voluntary and that responses would bekept confidential.
Data collection started in mid-January of 2021 and lasted
until mid-February of the same year. During this period,
there were no significant deviations in working conditions
Costantini and Weintraub Proactivity During Remote Work
Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 6 April 2022 | Volume 13 | Article 833776
due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the length of
the study, a situation of constant high (non-critical) national
alarm severely reduced travel and imposed limitations on
where people could work. Survey links were sent for 3 weeks,
with 1 week off between each following survey. This time
frame was established with the HR function and was aimed
at allowing more remote working days per employee. Along
with scales to measure the study variables, the first survey
also collected demographic information. Participants were
asked to identify themselves using a self-generated code to
match their following surveys in every survey. In each survey,
participants were asked to fill in the questionnaire referring
to their latest remote working experience.
e nal sample consisted of 155 Italian employees (74.52%
response rate), of which 53% were female (n = 82). Participants
(n observations = 329) reported a mean age of 37.92 (SD = 7.33)
and had worked on average 5.34 years (SD = 5.32) in the company.
e majority of respondents held a masters’ degree or higher
(58.1%), followed by a high school diploma (31%) or a bachelors’
degree (10.3%). A 77% of the participants had a permanent
full-time contract, and 30% reported having care duties at
home (referred to as “non-formal domestic work carried out
for non-self-sucient people, such as children, the elderly and
the disabled”).
Measures
All measures were administered in Italian. Scales not available
in Italian were translated using the forward-backward translation
method (Behling and Law, 2000). e time frame of the scales
and the number of items were adapted to be answered on a
weekly basis (Ohly et al., 2010). In all surveys, we asked
participants to reect upon their experiences during the past
week and indicate how each item was representative of their
most recent remote-work experience.
Weekly Self-Leadership
Weekly self-leadership during remote working was measured
with ve items measuring the behavioral strategies of self-goal
setting (3 items, i.e., “is week, when working remotely,
I consciously had goals in mind for my work efforts”) and
self-rewards (2 items, i.e., “is week, when working remotely,
when I did something well, I treated myself to some thing or
activity I especially enjoy”) developed by Houghton and Neck
(2002). Items were rated on a seven-point scale (1 = never;
7 = very oen).
Weekly Job Crafting
Weekly job craing during remote working was measured
with nine items from the scale developed by Bruning and
Campion (2018), measuring two dimensions of job craing,
namely, social expansion (3 items, i.e., “is week, when
working remotely, I actively initiated positive interactions with
others at work”) and work organization (3 items, i.e., “is
week, when working remotely, I created a structure in my
work processes”). Items were rated on a seven-point scale
(1 = never; 7 = very oen).
Weekly Work Engagement
Weekly work engagement was measured with three items from
the ultra-short measure for work engagement developed by
Schaufeli et al. (2019), i.e., “is week, when working remotely,
I felt bursting with energy” (vigor); “is week, when working
remotely, I felt enthusiastic about my job” (dedication); and
is week, during remote working, Iwas immersed in my work
(absorption). Participants answered on a seven-point scale
(0 = Not at all; 6 = To a very large degree).
Weekly Task Signicance
Weekly task signicance was measured with three items (i.e.,
is week, when working remotely, I felt like the results of my
work significantly affected the lives and well-being of other people
from the revised Job Diagnostic Survey; Idaszak and Drasgow,
1987). Participants indicated how accurately or inaccurately
each statement described their job on a seven-point scale
(1 = Very inaccurate; 7 = Ver y acc ura te ).
Statistical Approach
Our data have a multilevel structure, with week-level measures
(Level 1) nested within employees (Level 2). We calculated
the intra-class correlations (ICC1; Bliese, 2000) for our variables
before hypothesis testing. e between-persons variance for
our variables varied from 74% for work organization to 52%
for self-rewards, warranting an examination of our hypotheses
that accounts for the variation between clusters in our variables.
We conducted multilevel conrmatory factor analysis (MCFA)
in Mplus version 8.4 (Muthén and Muthén, 2012) to examine
the factorial validity of our measures and estimate their multilevel
composite reliabilities (ω; Geldhof et al., 2014). A six-factor
model was specied at both the within- and between levels,
estimating the loadings of respective items on the latent variables
(i.e., self-goal setting, self-rewards, social expansion, work
organization, work engagement, and task signicance). Multilevel
composite reliability (ω) was estimated at both levels of analysis
using estimated level-specic factor loadings and residual
variances. Correlations among the latent factors at both levels
were freely estimated.
To test our hypotheses, we used multilevel modeling in
Mplus version 8.4 (Muthén and Muthén, 2012). Multilevel
modeling is based on decomposing the data into within-person
(week-level) and between-person (person-level) parts and
modeling each of these parts with their own model (Muthén
and Asparouhov, 2008). Following previous research, we used
observed variables to avoid overly complex modeling (cf. Bakker
and Oerlemans, 2019; Chong etal., 2020; Sonnentag etal., 2021).
In our analysis, we controlled for age, which has been
shown to relate to job craing (Kooij et al., 2017b). Gender
was also controlled for since it is likely that the pandemic
dierently aected men and women (Knin et al., 2021).
Additionally, the number of remote working hours in the
previous week was controlled for, since this may have aected
the extent to which employees felt the need to engage in
self-leadership and job craing during remote working. Age
and gender were specied as between-level variables since
Costantini and Weintraub Proactivity During Remote Work
Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 7 April 2022 | Volume 13 | Article 833776
they only had between variance and were centered at the
grand mean to aid interpretation (Preacher etal., 2010). Weekly
self-leadership (self-goal setting and self-rewards), job craing
(social expansion and work organization), work engagement,
and task signicance, as well as number of remote working
hours in the previous week, were not specied as either within
or between variables and were modeled at both levels as their
variance was partitioned into within- and between components
(Preacher etal., 2010). is procedure implies that the weekly
level variables are implicitly centered at the person-level
(Preacher etal., 2010), removing the between-person variance
from the within-person part of the model (Sonnentag
et al., 2021).
RESULTS
Preliminary Analyses and Descriptive
Statistics
Results from the MCFA showed that the six-factor model
estimated simultaneously at both levels t the data well,
χ2(208) = 317.70, p < 0.001; root-mean-square error of approximation
(RMSEA) = 0.04, and standardized root-mean-square residual
(SRMR) SRMR within = 0.06; SRMR b etween = 0.07, w here RMSEA
and SRMR values of 0.08 or less indicate adequate t (Hu
and Bentler, 1999). All indicators signicantly loaded on their
respective factors. An alternative model in which the items
from the two self-leadership strategies (self-goal setting and
self-rewards), the two job craing dimensions (social expansion
and work organization), and the two outcome variables loaded
into a three-factor (χ2(232) = 859.79, p < 0.001; RMSEA = 0.09,
SRMR within = 0.47; SRMR between = 0.58) had a poorer t to the
data, supporting six factors as distinct.
Tabl e 1 shows descriptive statistics, within- and between-
persons reliabilities, intra-class correlations coecients (ICCs)
for weekly measures, and correlations among the variables.
e within-person reliabilities were acceptable, showing the
ability of the scales to detect changes for a person over weeks.
Similarly, between-person reliabilities were acceptable and able
to discriminate dierent people’s weekly average measures.
Hypotheses Testing
We tested our hypotheses in a model with similar paths at
the within- and between-person levels, except for the paths
involving gender and age modeled only at the between level.
Control variables included gender, age, and number of remote
working hours in the previous week. e multilevel model t
well to the data: χ2(24) = 53.42, p < 0.001; RMSEA = 0.06, SRMR
within = 0.07; SRMR between = 0.07. Figure2 shows the unstandardized
estimates and signicance levels of the signicant relationships
found.
Self-Leadership Job Crafting
Hypothesis 1 proposed that self-goal setting is positively associated
with job craing in terms of (a) social expansion and (b) work
organization. As shown in Tabl e  2, on weeks when employees
reported higher self-goal setting, they engaged more oen in social
expansion (estimate = 0.23, se = 0.09, t = 2.62, p 0.01) and proactively
organized their work processes more oen (estimate = 0.31, se = 0.06,
t = 5.19, p < 0.001) while working remotely. e same relationships
were also signicant when examining dierences between employees,
with self-goal setting being signicantly positively associated with
both social expansion (estimate = 0.79, se = 0.12, t = 6.72, p < 0.001)
and work organization (estimate = 1.07, se = 0.09, t = 11.59, p < 0.001).
Hence, Hypothesis 1 is conrmed.
Hypothesis 2 proposed that self-rewards are positively associated
with job craing in terms of (a) social expansion and (b) work
organization. At the within level, results showed that on weeks
when employees reported higher self-rewards, they engaged
more oen in social expansion (estimate = 0.08, se = 0.04, t = 1.93,
p 0.05) but did not proactively organize their work processes
more oen while working remotely. When examining dierences
between employees, self-rewards resulted signicantly positively
associated with social expansion (estimate = 0.24, se = 0.09, t = 2.81,
p = 0.005) but not with work organization. Hence, Hypothesis
2a is conrmed while Hypothesis 2b is rejected.
Job Crafting Work Engagement
Hypothesis 3 stated that job craing behaviors in terms of
(a) social expansion and (b) work organization are positively
associated with work engagement. At the within level, results
(see Table  3) showed that on weeks when employees reported
higher social expansion behaviors during remote working, they
experienced higher work engagement (estimate = 0.21, se = 0.08,
t = 2.53, p = 0.01), but no signicant relationships were found
with work organization. At the between level, neither social
expansion nor work organization were signicantly associated
with work engagement. Accordingly, Hypothesis 3a is conrmed
only at the within level, while Hypothesis 3b is rejected.
Self-Leadership Job Crafting Work
Engagement
e indirect eects of self-goal setting (Hypothesis 4) and
self-rewards (Hypothesis 5) on work engagement via remote
working job craing (a—social expansion; b—work organization)
were tested with Mplus following the procedure by Preacher
etal. (2010) and the Monte Carlo method with 20,000 repetitions
(Preacher and Selig, 2010). As reported in Table 4 , weekly
social expansion signicantly mediated the eect of self-goal
setting on work engagement (estimate = 0.05, se = 0.02, t = 2.07,
p = 0.04; 95%CI [0.01, 0.11]), while all the other indirect eects
were not signicant. Hence, Hypothesis 4a is conrmed only
at the within level, while Hypothesis 4b, and Hypotheses 5a
and 5b are rejected.
Job Crafting Task Signicance
Hypothesis 6 proposed that job craing behaviors in terms
of (a) social expansion and (b) work organization are positively
associated with task signicance. As it can beseen in Tab le 3 ,
at the within level no signicant relationships were found.
Dierently, when considering dierences between employees,
results showed that those reporting higher social expansion
Costantini and Weintraub Proactivity During Remote Work
Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 8 April 2022 | Volume 13 | Article 833776
while working remotely also scored higher in task signicance
during the weeks (estimate = 0.31, se = 0.13, t = 2.44, p = 0.02),
while no signicant relationships were found for work
organization. Hence, Hypothesis 6a is conrmed only at the
between level while Hypothesis 6b is rejected.
Self-Leadership Job Crafting Task
Signicance
As displayed in Tab le 5 , the test of the indirect eect of self-
leadership on task signicance via job craing (Hypothesis 7
and 8) showed that, only at the between level, self-goal setting
was signicantly indirectly linked to higher task signicance
via social expansion behaviors (estimate = 0.24, se = 0.10, t = 2.42,
p = 0.02; 95%CI [0.02, 0.50]). All the other indirect eects were
not signicant. Accordingly, Hypothesis 7a is supported at the
between level, while Hypothesis 7b, 8a, and 8b are rejected.
DISCUSSION
Theoretical Contributions
Results of the current research advance proactivity literature by
showing that self-leadership enables the proactive initiation of
social interactions during remote working and that some proactive
strategies are more eective in driving certain downstream
outcomes than others. Results provide further support for the
theoretical link between job craing and work engagement (Zhang
and Parker, 2019) and (to the best of our knowledge) provide
the rst support for the eect of job craing on task signicance
during remote working. e study also contributes to job craing
literature by providing evidence for the role of a specic form
of job craing (i.e., social expansion) as a mediating mechanism
between self-leadership and critical work outcomes. Additionally,
results show that the proactive and self-regulatory processes
occurring during remote work are not consistent across dierent
level of analysis, suggesting that these processes unfold dierently
when considering dierences in self-regulatory eorts between
individuals or changes in these eorts over time within a
same person.
Namely, social expansion mediated the relationship between
self-goal setting and task signicance at the between level,
and the relationship between self-goal setting and work
engagement at the within level, but no other indirect eects
were supported. ese results enrich self-leadership and job
craing literature by showing that self-goal setting is an eective
driver of work engagement and task signicance through social
expansion and that self-rewards and work organization may
be less eective in driving the critical work outcomes explored
in this study. Additionally, given that the indirect eect of
self-goal setting on work engagement through social expansion
was only signicant at the within level, this implies that work
engagement may bemore uid within person during the time-
period explored in our study, and conversely, that task signicance
may require longer-term exploration and be less uid in the
short-term. is notion is further supported in that no variables
predicted task signicance at the within level, and no variables
predicted work engagement at the between level.
TABLE1 | Descriptive statistics and correlations among the study variables.
Variable M (SD)BωBM (SD)WωWICC12345678 9
Age 36.96 (11.16) () 0.14*0.09 0.19** 0.04 0.09 0.11 0.17** 0.04
Gender 1.47 (0.50) 0.14*()0.14** −0.21** 0.03 0.13* −0.22** −0.10 0.14*
Remote
working
hours
28.59 (13.63) 28.59 (14.47) 0.09 0.15** () 0.19** 0.08 0.24** 0.29** 0.21** 0.01
Self-goal
setting
5.94 (0.97) 0.98 5.94 (1.07) 0.68 0.66 0.20** −0.23** 0.23** () 0.17** 0.49** 0.72** 0.48** 0.23**
Self-rewards 3.47 (1.48) 0.97 3.47 (1.71) 0.83 0.52 0.04 0.03 0.10 0.21** () 0.29** 0.19** 0.26** 0.09
Social
expansion
5.28 (1.28) 0.98 5.28 (1.38) 0.74 0.74 0.10 0.14*0.27** 0.53** 0.32** () 0.49** 0.48** 0.32**
Work
organization
5.67 (1.11) 0.96 5.67 (1.19) 0.68 0.74 0.11* −0.23** 0.32** 0.79** 0.22** 0.51** () 0.45** 0.21**
Work
engagement
4.90 (1.33) 0.97 4.90 (1.43) 0.78 0.72 0.19** −0.11*0.24** 0.54** 0.28** 0.51** 0.48** () 0.14*
Task
signicance
5.21(1.12) 0.91 5.21 (1.25) 0.58 0.63 0.04 0.15** 0.03 0.27** 0.14*0.36** 0.23** 0.15** ()
Between-person (B) correlations below the diagonal (n = 155). Within-person (W) correlations above the diagonal (n = 329). ω = Reliability of change; Remote working hours = Number of remote working hours during the previous week.
ICC = intra-class correlation coefcient. Gender: 1 = Female; 2 = Male. *p < 0.05; **p < 0.01.
Costantini and Weintraub Proactivity During Remote Work
Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 9 April 2022 | Volume 13 | Article 833776
While self-rewards predicted social expansion at both levels,
no other signicant relationships were found between this
predictor and any other variable at either level. From a theoretical
perspective, these ndings emphasize that while self-rewards
represent a self-inuence strategy, such a strategy then triggers
relational mechanisms through which remote workers can
experience their actions as related and connected to other people
(Ryan and Deci, 2000). Hence, workers rewarding themselves
for their own good work have a higher focus on how their
work results may t in with overall work goals. en, when
they feel such goals have been attained, they look for ways to
consolidate and link their individual contribution to others at
work. However, results also suggest that this type of self-leadership
may not be an eective means of driving downstream work
outcomes, perhaps because the rewards employees provide for
themselves may not always beproximally related to the workplace.
For example, while people may reward themselves for
accomplishing a work task and reach out to a colleague to
share such an achievement, the motivational driver coming
from the experience of rewarding oneself may be experienced
FIGURE2 | Result of the multilevel model. Bold arrows represent signicant paths. Non-standardized signicant estimates are displayed. The results account for
the role of number weekly remote working hours. Control variables (age and gender), related paths, and estimated paths from independent variables to outcome
variables are not displayed for the sake of clarity. Only indirect paths that are signicant are displayed. ***p 0.001, **p 0.01, and *p 0.05.
TABLE2 | Unstandardized coefcients from multilevel path modeling predicting social expansion and work organization.
Social expansion Work organization
Variable Est. SE t p Est. SE t p
Between-person level
Intercept 0.23 0.66 0.34 0.73 0.92 0.56 1.65 0.10
Self-goal setting 0.79 0.12 6.72 <0.001 1.07 0.09 11.59 <0.001
Self-rewards 0.24 0.09 2.81 0.01 0.06 0.07 0.89 0.38
Residual variance 0.81 0.20 4.04 <0.001 0.21 0.07 3.05 0.002
Within-person level
Self-goal setting 0.23 0.09 2.62 0.001 0.31 0.06 5.19 <0.001
Self-rewards 0.08 0.04 1.93 0.05 0.04 0.04 1.06 0.29
Residual variance 0.45 0.07 6.38 <0.001 0.33 0.05 7.14 <0.001
Estimates are unstandardized, resulting from one overall analysis including the prediction of the different self-leadership strategies on work engagement and task signicance via job
crafting behaviors.
Costantini and Weintraub Proactivity During Remote Work
Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 10 April 2022 | Volume 13 | Article 833776
as personal, rather than professional, and may not beleveraged
as a mechanism for driving downstream signicance in their
work or further engagement in other work-related tasks.
Meanwhile, self-goal setting had signicant relationships with
both social expansion and work organization at the within- and
between levels, as well as the indirect relationships already
discussed. ese ndings provide further support for the robustness
of goal-setting theory (Locke and Latham, 1990) for driving
positive work outcomes such as work engagement (Weintraub
et al., 2021). ese results support the notion that self-goal
setting can help sustain more uid variables such as work
engagement by providing the self-motivation and self-direction
needed to facilitate behaviors that may benecessary yet undesirable
to accomplish work tasks (Bakker and van Woerkom, 2017).
Furthermore, results suggest that self-goal setting can help drive
downstream eects which are more stable and may take longer
to develop such as task signicance. In the context of being
isolated at home during a global pandemic while working, these
results suggest that self-goal setting allowed workers to stay
connected to their co-workers through social expansion, which
may have led to the fulllment of the need for relatedness and
a feeling that the work their community does is more meaningful.
TABLE4 | Indirect effects of self-leadership on work engagement via job crafting.
Between level Within level
Indirect effect x
m y
Est. SE t p Est. SE t p
Self-goal setting
social
expansion
work
engagement
0.17 0.12 1.40 0.16 0.05 0.02 2.07 0.04
Self-goal setting
work
organization
work
engagement
0.16 0.33 0.49 0.62 0.04 0.03 1.45 0.15
Self-rewards
social expansion
work
engagement
0.05 0.04 1.23 0.22 0.02 0.01 1.45 0.15
Self-rewards
work organization
work
engagement
0.01 0.02 0.44 0.66 0.01 0.01 1.00 0.32
Estimates are unstandardized, resulting from one overall analysis including the prediction of the different self-leadership strategies on work engagement and task signicance via job
crafting behaviors.
TABLE3 | Unstandardized coefcients from multilevel path modeling predicting work engagement and task signicance.
Work engagement Task signicance
Variable Est. SE t p Est. SE t p
Between-person level
Intercept 0.55 0.88 0.62 0.53 2.98 0.87 3.43 0.001
Self-goal setting 0.78 0.44 1.78 0.08 0.14 0.45 0.31 0.76
Self-rewards 0.13 0.10 1.39 0.16 0.05 0.10 0.50 0.62
Social expansion 0.21 0.15 1.39 0.17 0.31 0.12 2.53 0.01
Work
organization
0.12 0.34 0.37 0.72 0.07 0.35 0.20 0.84
Residual variance 0.83 0.13 6.60 <0.001 0.80 0.11 6.99 <0.001
Within-person level
Self-goal setting 0.16 0.11 1.45 0.15 0.07 0.10 0.66 0.51
Self-rewards 0.06 0.05 1.29 0.20 0.07 0.05 1.25 0.21
Social expansion 0.21 0.08 2.56 0.01 0.13 0.10 1.31 0.19
Work
organization
0.13 0.09 1.53 0.13 0.08 0.10 0.77 0.44
Residual variance 0.47 0.08 5.66 <0.001 0.55 0.07 7.48 <0.001
Estimates are unstandardized, resulting from one overall analysis including the prediction of the different self-leadership strategies on work engagement and task signicance via job
crafting behaviors.
Costantini and Weintraub Proactivity During Remote Work
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Finally, while work organization was predicted by self-goal
setting at the within-level and at the between level, it was not
a predictor of either work outcome explored in this study. From
a theoretical standpoint, it may be that the way one organizes
their work does not aect the way the work itself is perceived
or inspires workers to engage more fervently with their work
tasks. Instead, it may be more of a logistical strategy than one
which drives changes in states such as engagement or attitudes
about one’s work such as task signicance.
Practical Implications
From a practical standpoint, the current study had clear
takeaways which can be leveraged by individuals, teams, and
organizations. First, if the aim is to drive improvements in
task signicance and work engagement in a remote-work context,
organizations should encourage employees to set goals for
themselves and that at least a portion of these goals should
be related to social expansion. For example, employees may
be encouraged to meet with colleagues to discuss work tasks
and how they might collaborate on projects. is encouragement
could be communicated verbally by leadership or utilize
mechanisms like nudges (aler and Sunstein, 2008) in which
goal-setting frameworks are introduced and encouraged via
e-mail or app-delivered reminders (Weintraub et al., 2021).
Such strategies can teach individuals the skills needed to set
goals for themselves while also preserving autonomy and the
self-leadership aspect of this strategy.
Meanwhile, our results suggest that self-rewards may bean
eective strategy for driving social expansion but are not a
potent enough intervention to inuence the work outcomes
of task signicance or work engagement. erefore, if companies
have limited resources and need to choose between encouraging
self-rewards or self-goal setting, self-goal setting has the potential
to have more incremental value. However, if organizations are
struggling with building a sense of community, self-rewards
may still be an eective means of driving social expansion
within organizations. Similarly, our ndings suggest that work
organization may not beworth spending organizational resources
on in situations where building work engagement or task
signicance are the goals.
Limitations and Future Research
While this study does provide many theoretical and practical
contributions, like all studies, there are limitations that should
also inspire future research. First, it must be noted that this
study was conducted during a global pandemic. As such, there
may bea distinction between working remotely in this context
compared to remote work in the future. For example, our
ndings regarding work organization may have limited
generalizability in that workers may have less autonomy over
managing behavior or physical surroundings to increase structural
job resources since they are unlikely to have planned to work
in the conditions which were present in the current study.
For example, workers in this study could have typically worked
in traditional in-person oce settings but had to quickly shi
to working from home due to COVID-19. As such, rather
than choosing living situations which they could have more
control over physical surroundings, they were likely forced
into spaces where they had not planned to do work, and
which may not be conducive to working (i.e., sharing small
spaces where roommates are also working or where children
are home from school). Future research should replicate the
current study and ask individuals about their typical work
environment, more detailed accounts of their work-from-home
setup (e.g., whether they have their own private home-oce
or work in the same room with others), and whether they
feel they have the resources to accomplish their work properly
while working remotely.
TABLE5 | Indirect effects of self-leadership on task signicance via job crafting.
Between level Within level
Indirect effect x
m y
Est. SE t p Est. SE t p
Self-goal setting
social
expansion
task signicance
0.24 0.10 2.42 0.02 0.03 0.03 1.18 0.24
Self-goal setting
work
organization
task signicance
0.14 0.36 0.39 0.69 0.03 0.03 0.83 0.41
Self-rewards
social expansion
task
signicance
0.07 0.04 1.85 0.06 0.01 0.01 1.08 0.28
Self-rewards
work organization
task
signicance
0.01 0.01 0.36 0.72 0.01 0.01 0.67 0.50
Estimates are unstandardized, resulting from one overall analysis including the prediction of the different self-leadership strategies on work engagement and task signicance via job
crafting behaviors.
Costantini and Weintraub Proactivity During Remote Work
Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 12 April 2022 | Volume 13 | Article 833776
It should benoted that our sample size was relatively small
and that all participants came from a single company, which
may limit the generalizability of our ndings. Additionally, mean
values for self-rewards in our sample were relatively low (i.e.,
mean = 3.47, range = 1–7), especially when compared with other
variables (i.e., self-goal setting mean = 5.95). is implies that
self-rewards were not very commonly used in this sample,
which could have impacted our ability to nd support for our
hypotheses. Conversely, participants in our sample frequently
reported generally high self-goal setting and job craing behaviors.
While the analyses weadopted focused on how deviations from
individual means are associated with high/lower outcomes, these
aspects should be considered when evaluating our ndings. As
such, future research should intentionally recruit a larger number
of participants, from multiple organizations, with a wider range
of self-rewarding and proactive behaviors, to better examine
the relationships of interest.
is study focused on self-leadership as an antecedent of
job craing behaviors aiding positive remote working experiences.
ere are, however, other personal attributes and contextual
factors that may inuence self-regulation strategies and
processes that wedid not include (e.g., trait emotional stability,
conscientiousness, work-related self-ecacy, level of work
autonomy, presence of clearly specied goals, and t-discrepancy
between self-settled and organizational goals). Similarly, in this
research, we focused on psychological work-related outcomes
and did not investigate any potential eect on employees’ health.
Future research could examine the role of personal attributes
and contextual variables in explaining proactivity and its eects
during remote working. e eect of self-leadership strategies
and job craing on other work outcomes such as objective
performance and wellbeing, including health indicators, should
also be explored.
In the current study, we did not examine the types of
rewards or goals that workers set or provided for themselves.
For example, with regard to rewards, some workers may have
been providing big, expensive rewards for themselves while
others may have rewarded themselves with smaller things, or
even with dierent categories of rewards (i.e., monetary rewards
vs. allowing themselves to eat a treat they enjoy vs. giving
themselves time to relax). Likewise, the content of goals has
been shown in previous research to have dierential eects
on downstream variables such as work engagement (Weintraub
et al., 2021). erefore, future research should aim to utilize
a mixed-methods approach in which quantitative and qualitative
aspects of goals and rewards can be further examined.
Finally, all the variables in our study were self-assessed,
and the design of this study was observational in nature, which
may lead to the risk of common method bias (Podsako etal.,
2003). However, it may be argued that employees themselves
are best suited to self-report their self-leadership processes
because they are the ones who are aware of how they proactively
manage their motivational processes while working remotely.
Moreover, evidence from research shows high agreement between
self- and peer-ratings of approach-oriented job craing (Tims
et al., 2012). Also, multilevel conrmatory factor analyses
revealed a good t, indicating construct validity, which represents
one way to rule out substantial method eects (Conway and
Lance, 2010). Still, the fact that our variables were assessed
at the same time point in time, at the end of the week, makes
it important for future studies to employ experimental designs
in which interventions can be further assessed for causality
and across a longer period of time to examine the longevity
of the potency of their eects. Given the potential for the
uctuation in variables such as work engagement within day,
future research could also record more frequent measurements
to further examine how these strategies might aect job craing
behaviors within the same day (daily diary studies) as well as
over longer periods of time, which could also dierentially
aect work outcomes.
CONCLUSION
is study explored the eects of self-leadership practices on
key work outcomes in a remote-work environment during a
global pandemic and the mediating role of job craing on
this relationship. In particular, the study explored social expansion
and work organization mediating the relationships between
self-goal setting and self-rewards predicting work engagement
over time. It was also the rst known study to explore the
eect of job craing on task signicance during remote working.
Overall, our results provided support for these theoretical
assertions. Although nuanced, ndings suggest that self-goal
setting is a particularly potential self-leadership strategy that
leads to job craing and the work outcomes of task signicance
and work engagement. ese results also provide practical
implications for self-goal setting as a self-leadership strategy
that should be encouraged by organizations. Future research
should employ mixed-method experimental designs which test
interventions and examine how individual dierences may aect
these relationships over time.
DATA AVAILABILITY STATEMENT
e raw data supporting the conclusions of this article will
be made available by the authors, without undue reservation.
ETHICS STATEMENT
Ethical review and approval were not required for the study
on human participants in accordance with the local legislation
and institutional requirements. e patients/participants provided
their written informed consent to participate in this study.
AUTHOR CONTRIBUTIONS
AC and JW contributed to conception and design of the study
and wrote the rst dra of the manuscript. AC organized the
database and performed the statistical analysis. All authors
contributed to the article and approved the submitted version.
Costantini and Weintraub Proactivity During Remote Work
Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 13 April 2022 | Volume 13 | Article 833776
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Conflict of Interest: JW was employed by the Flow Group, LLC.
e remaining author declares that the research was conducted in the absence
of any commercial or nancial relationships that could beconstrued as a potential
conict of interest.
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The impacts of COVID-19 on workers and workplaces across the globe have been dramatic. This broad review of prior research rooted in work and organizational psychology, and related fields, is intended to make sense of the implications for employees, teams, and work organizations. This review and preview of relevant literatures focuses on (a) emergent changes in work practices (e.g., working from home, virtual teamwork) and (b) emergent changes for workers (e.g., social distancing, stress, and unemployment). In addition, potential moderating factors (demographic characteristics, individual differences, and organizational norms) are examined given the likelihood that COVID-19 will generate disparate effects. This broad-scope overview provides an integrative approach for considering the implications of COVID-19 for work, workers, and organizations while also identifying issues for future research and insights to inform solutions. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).
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Although habits are a well-researched topic within psychology, habits enacted at the workplace received limited attention in the organizational literature. In this article we examine habits that employees show at the workplace. Because workplace habits are not always functional for performance or affective outcomes, and because employees themselves may regard specific habits as undesirable, it is important to identify ways of how employees can abandon such unwanted habits. We report findings from a daily-survey study (N = 145 persons) in which we examined if self-regulatory processes predict disengagement from undesirable habits and engagement in more desirable alternative behaviors. Multilevel path analysis showed that day-specific implementation intentions and day-specific vigilant monitoring were negatively related to day-specific habitual behavior and positively related to day-specific alternative behaviors, both in the morning and in the afternoon. Analysis of follow-up data (N = 126 persons) showed that change in habit strength was stable over a 2-month period, suggesting that implementation intentions, vigilant monitoring, and the associated enactment of alternative behavior indeed may help to disengage from unwanted habits, particularly with respect to task-related habits and when consistency in vigilant monitoring is high. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
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The construct of flow has been associated with a plethora of positive work outcomes such as performance, engagement, and reduced burnout. However, flow is understudied in the domain of work and there is a lack of empirical examinations of flow interventions. Additionally, until recently, the vast majority of research examining flow at work assumes that individuals are passive agents who only experience flow when their working conditions facilitate the state. Therefore, the study tested a ‘SMART’ goal‐setting nudge intervention for individuals, aimed at increasing flow at work and its positive outcomes. Results of a 5‐day experimental experience sampling study with 65 American MTurk workers (who work full‐time besides MTurk) indicate that those in the goal‐setting condition experienced more flow at work and subsequently experienced less daily stress, as well as higher engagement and subjective performance when compared to the control group. Exploratory analyses revealed that flow decreased later in the week within‐day for participants in the control group, whereas flow remained relatively stable within‐day for those in the goal‐setting condition. Moreover, certain categories of goals, such as mastery goals, resource acquisition goals, and understanding goals, were found to be significant predictors of daily flow. Flow at work predicted daily stress, daily performance, and work engagement. Self‐determination strategies (Occupat Health Sci, 1, 2017, 47), such as goal setting, can increase the amount of flow experienced at work and its subsequent positive outcomes. Nudges (Nudge: Improving decisions about health, wealth, and happiness, Yale University Press, 2008) can provide reminders for individuals to engage in behaviors that help them to experience flow and its positive work outcomes. A proposed model was supported as a framework practitioners can use to better understand flow at work along with its antecedents and outcomes.
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The COVID-19 crisis has compelled many organizations to implement full-time telework for their employees in a bid to prevent a transmission of the virus. At the same time, the volatile COVID-19 situation presents unique, unforeseen daily disruptive task setbacks that divert employees' attention from routinized work tasks and require them to respond adaptively and effortfully. Yet, little is known about how telework employees react to such complex demands and regulate their work behaviors while working from home. Drawing on Hobfoll's (1989) conservation of resources (COR) theory, we develop a multilevel, two-stage moderated-mediation model arguing that daily COVID-19 task setbacks are stressors that would trigger a resource loss process and will thus be positively related to the employee's end-of-day emotional exhaustion. The emotionally exhausted employee then enters a resource preservation mode that precipitates a positive relationship between end-of-day exhaustion and next-day work withdrawal behaviors. Based on COR, we also predict that the relation between daily COVID-19 task setbacks and exhaustion would be more positive in telework employees who have higher (vs. lower) task interdependence with coworkers, but organizations could alleviate the positive relation between end-of-day exhaustion and next-day work withdrawal behavior by providing employees with higher (vs. lower) telework task support. We collected daily experience-sampling data over 10 workdays from 120 employees (Level 1, n = 1,022) who were teleworking full-time due to the pandemic lockdown. The results generally supported our hypotheses, and their implications for scholars and managers during and beyond the pandemic are discussed. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).
Preprint
A survey among Dutch employees (N = 408) investigated how a lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic affected work perceptions. Results demonstrate that employees who are not working during lockdown, or have strongly reduced work hours, perceive their job as contributing less to the greater good, identify less with their organization, and experience more job insecurity, compared to those who are still performing a high percentage of their work activities. Moreover, the longer employees were in lockdown, the weaker their greater good motivations and the more job insecurity they experienced. Additionally, we investigated the relations of work perceptions with prosocial and deviant online organizational behaviors of employees who were still working. Identification with colleagues and perceiving positive meaning in one’s job emerged as significant predictors of online organizational citizenship behavior directed at other individuals (OCB-I), whereas organizational identification predicted such behavior directed at the organization (OCB-O). Moreover, indicative of a job preservation motive, increased job insecurity was related to more online OCB-O, as well as more deviant online behaviors directed at others in the form of cyberostracism and cyberincivility. Based on these findings, we discuss practical lessons for future lockdowns to minimize negative consequences for organizations and employees.