Although Lithuania declared emergency and quarantine, the study and research process at Vilnius University (VU) does not stop: the decision to conduct a remote study process became not only the challenge but was also a stimulus to implement innovative work measures. On the 27th of March, in the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration (FEBA), for the first time in history, a doctoral dissertation in Social sciences was defended remotely.

“Innovations, first times, are stressful. I have felt additional responsibility: everything must go smoothly to become a best practice for other universities in Lithuania. I was mostly concerned about the technical issues that, unfortunately, are sometimes unavoidable and difficult to control. However, due to the excellent work of the professionals, we successfully bypassed the technical issues, and the online defense went absolutely smoothly”, said doctoral student Neringa Grincevičienė. She stated that the remote defense has a significant advantage: it can take place in your familiar environment (for example, at home), which is extremely helpful psychologically and helps mitigate stress.

The Head of the doctoral dissertation defense committee prof. dr. Rimvydas Skyrius emphasized that such format implies the features common to the collaborative systems and platforms: “Members are not restricted by the physical place; after we gain a little more experience, greater flexibility could be achieved in standard group functions: in sharing the material, evaluating, and voting. I can also state that the atmosphere of focus, which prevails when people sit together, dissolves to some extent during the online meeting. However, the most significant insight from the online defense to me is that the participants gradually get involved in the process to the extent when in a professional context, the difference between the online and traditional physical formats no longer exists, and the quality of discussion remains at a similarly high level.”

The relevance of the scientific problem discussed in the doctoral dissertation “The Mediating Effect of the Perceived Intensity of Telework Use on Employees Commitment to the Organisation and Work-Life Balance” was caused by the fact that currently the scientific field lacks research on the evaluation of the telework use intensity as a significant influencing factor on organizational commitment and work-life balance.

The topic is particularly relevant to the current situation in the world: the research results revealed that perceived intensity of telework use is majorly positively influenced by an organization’s approach to telework, and to a lesser extent: by individual abilities to work remotely. The author identified that the perceived intensity of telework use has the greatest positive impact on normative commitment.

“I am extremely glad that the first online defense of the doctoral dissertation in Social sciences in the history of Vilnius University allowed us to keep up with the trend set by the best universities in the world. It is already clear that online defense has many advantages. The most significant of them are the publicity and transparency. A record number of 46 participants attended the dissertation defense. A great number of them were the external participants to whom the topic of dissertation is relevant and interesting.”, the vice-dean of VU FEBA dr. Linas Tarasonis declared. He stated that this measure expands the social impact of university’s research output. Therefore, he expects that after the quarantine, the public dissertation defenses streamed online will become the new standard.

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