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Monks Eleigh academic awarded prestigious grant for study into how managers cope with post-Covid workplace

A Suffolk academic says she hopes to make a positive long-term impact on managers in fast-changing flexible workplaces post-Covid, after securing a prestigious grant for her year-long pilot study.

Dr Laura Reeves, a leadership and management researcher at the University of Suffolk, was awarded a British Academy of Management (BAM) Transitions 1 research grant in October, worth almost £4,000.

The funding will enable Dr Reeves, from Monks Eleigh, to conduct a 12-month preliminary research project to assess the impact of agile working on managers and their sense of belonging in the organisation they work in.

Dr Laura Reeves is keen to explore how the switch to hybrid working is affecting managers. Picture: Contributed
Dr Laura Reeves is keen to explore how the switch to hybrid working is affecting managers. Picture: Contributed

It comes after Office of National Statistics (ONS) data from 2022 revealed that, since remote working became prevalent during the Covid-19 pandemic, eight in 10 workers in England and Scotland planned to continue flexible work arrangements.

Dr Reeves, who moved to Suffolk four years ago, explained that her interest in this field began while studying for her Open University PhD, which focused on identity and belonging in the workplace.

She described feeling “proud and thrilled” to receive funding from the BAM, which she stated will help to better understand issues facing managers, and how to better support them in the workplace.

“In an environment that practices agile working, there’s a big focus on employee wellness, but there’s less awareness of how managers feel about agile working, and the demands on them,” Dr Reeves told the Free Press.

“Particularly in this fast-evolving world, where we haven’t gone back to what was considered normal pre-Covid, I’m really interested to know what their lived experience is like, and how we can help them.

“Long-term, I’m really keen to make an impact on supporting managers. Ambitiously, I’d like to perhaps influence policy on a national level, so managers are recognised in the workplace in more explicit ways.”

Working with Professor Clare Rigg, from Lancaster University’s Management School, the pilot will begin with interviews and focus groups next month.

Data collected from the preliminary research is hoped to support a larger study and grant application, while also helping to inform wellbeing policies for companies with agile working.