Experiences of working from home in times of covid-19 International survey conducted the first months of the national lockdowns March-May, 2020

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Abstract

Mid-March 2020 the current novel coronavirus outbreak, Covid-19, forced national governments across the world to order people to work from home (WFH), unless they had jobs of high necessity. Being in an unprecedented situation in Denmark and with our research interest in digital transformations, knowledge intensive work, management of distance work and management of both employee wellbeing and performance management, we designed a survey that focused on the experiences of WFH. The aim was to investigate the early, initial reactions of people working from home, their use of digital technology during the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak, how they collaborated and organized remote work, measure the experiences of working from home and reasons behind their experiences. The survey was first launched in Denmark (20th March) and then followed by seven other European countries, plus two outside Europe. This report presents results from data collected in the period from 21st of March until 11th of May with more than 100 national full responses from participants that worked fully from home since the Covid-19 lockdown, which means 4643 responses from eight European countries. The sampling was conducted by invitations send out through social media, local news channels and via professional networks (e.g. LinkedIn). The respondents were mainly knowledge workers and managers; a small majority of the respondents were women (60%). The questionnaire was also distributed among thousands of students, but this report presents only results from professionals and managers working from home. Given the short preparation time, we have not yet been able to construct a representative sample from each of the countries involved until mid-May 2020. The data set presented here are not to be viewed as representative for the entire labor force in the investigated countries. There may be important differences across professions, industries, and regions that we cannot address in the current analysis. Examples of early results are that a majority of professionals working from home in Denmark, report that they get more work done compared to being physically in a workplace (58%) and 41 % report that they work fewer hours. Danish managers of knowledge work found their work during the pandemic to be more challenging than the employees did. Across countries, Danish leaders are more challenged with their new tasks as distance managers than their German colleagues are. Overall, across Europe professionals within our samplings of knowledge workers found their
new work conditions to be mostly positive as they appreciated the advantages of WFH, whereas managers found the situation more challenging. The study provides insights into the discussion about how to proceed with the implementation of a WFH-practice when this will is required, where the employees wish for it and where there will be financial benefits to be harvested.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages32
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Keywords

  • Covid-19
  • Working from home
  • Digital tools
  • Knowledge work
  • Telework
  • Distance management
  • Personal experiences

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