Article on the medium-term perceived effects of forced work from home
A research conducted among the staff of the National Research Council (CNR) on the perceived medium-term effects of forced work from home (WFH) on life and profession has been published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health: The medium-term perceived impact of work from home on life and work domains of knowledge workers during COVID-19 pandemic: A survey at the National Research Council of Italy.
More than 95% of the 748 respondents report that at least one area of personal life has changed, a percentage that reaches 97% for perceived changes in at least one area of professional life. These are mostly positive repercussions according to the participants.
The objective of the study - conducted in early 2022 by researchers from four CNR institutes in collaboration with the University of Genoa - was to evaluate how knowledge workers experienced the changes to their working habits after 18 months since the start of the restrictive measures related to the pandemic. The survey is part of the research, launched all over the world especially during the first lockdowns, on the well-being of workers.
How smart has working from home been during the pandemic?
The research was carried out through an online questionnaire. Among other things, CNR staff were asked to rate the impact of working from home on various areas from 1 (very negative) to 5 (very positive).
With respect to personal life, the quality of interpersonal relationships in the family and the lifestyle in general (including eating habits and health) benefited the most from working from home with 60% and 58% of responses being "very positive" or "positive". However, working from home does not seem to have had an impact on the quality of sleep and friendships (48% and 55% answer "none" respectively). The most frequent negative impact (20%) is instead recorded in relation to the psychological state. (Details of the answers in figure n.1)
Professional level, ie respondents benefited from working from home in particular with respect to flexibility (organisation of personal workspace and personal workspace and working time management), initiative taking and quality of work. Three areas in which positive perceptions prevailed over both negative ones and lack of impact.
The participatory and relational aspects are those in which the perception of absence of impact prevails. At the same time, however, relationships with colleagues and participation in the work context are those that seem to have been most affected by the different working conditions and that have collected the largest number of negative responses (27% and 25%, respectively).
This perception was influenced by personal and organizational factors. In particular, the reduced number of days of face-to-face work and a longer commute time from home to work are associated with a positive perception of the impact of working from home on personal life. Even those who reduced their sedentary lifestyles rated the impact of working from home on all areas of their personal lives as positive. On the other hand, a negative perception is favored by having abandoned one's hobbies and having had to share the room used for work with other inhabitants of the house.
As the writer of the article points out, the results obtained suggest that measures to promote the physical and mental health of employees, strengthen inclusion and maintain a sense of community are needed to improve workers' health and prevent isolation perceived in research activities when recourse to working from home is envisaged, especially where work-life balance policies are lacking.
Curated by Monia Torre with the scientific contribution of Pierpaolo Mincarone.