Working from home during the COVID-19 crisis: How self-control strategies elucidate employees’ job performance

Research output: Journal contributionsJournal articlesResearchpeer-review


Employees around the globe experience manifold challenges to maintain job performance during the so-called “work from home experiment” caused by the COVID-19 crisis. Whereas the self-control literature suggests that higher trait self-control should enable employees to deal with these demands more effectively, we know little about the underlying mechanisms. In a mixed-methods approach and two waves of data collection, we examine how self-control strategies elucidate the link between teleworking employees’ trait self-control and their job performance. Using a qualitative approach, we explored which strategies employees use to telework effectively (N = 266). In line with the process model of self-control, reported strategies pertained to situation modification (i.e., altering the physical, somatic, or social conditions) and cognitive change (i.e., goal setting, planning/scheduling, autonomous motivation). Subsequent pre-registered, quantitative analyses with a diverse sample of 106 teleworkers corroborated that higher trait self-control is related to job performance beyond situational demands and prior performance. Among all self-control strategies, modifying somatic conditions and autonomous motivation were significantly associated with job performance and mediated the self-control-performance link. This research provides novel insights into the processes by which employees productively work from home and inspires a broad (er) view on the topic of self-control at work.

Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied Psychology
Number of pages28
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2021

    Research areas

  • COVID-19, process model, self-control strategies, telework, trait self-control
  • Psychology