Making Homeworking Work: Preferences And Experiences Of Full-Time Workers During COVID-19

Diane Pelly[a], Liam Delaney[b] and Orla Doyle[c] [d]

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Executive Summary

COVID-19 has forced large numbers of workers to switch to homeworking. This report uses primary longitudinal data from two surveys of 808 full-time workers in the UK which were conducted before and during the period of COVID-19 restrictions. It examines the impact of the pandemic on workers’ homeworking preferences and on their self-rated levels of stress, well-being and productivity. Almost three-quarters of workers are working from home full-time, compared to just 3% prior to COVID-19. Homeworkers report significantly higher levels of job satisfaction than non-homeworkers. While 84% of current homeworkers wish to continue homeworking, 58% would prefer a ‘hybrid’ option over working from home full-time. Lack of commute is the most cited benefit of homeworking (72% of respondents), while missing socialising with co-workers is the most cited disadvantage (56% of respondents). The effects of homeworking on productivity during COVID-19 are mixed, with 39% of homeworkers reporting producing less work when homeworking and 35% reporting producing more work. The most frequently requested homeworking support (55% of respondents) is a better physical work set-up at home. Our results reveal considerable heterogeneity around homeworking preferences and experiences and highlight the need for organisations to capture and learn from their workers’ homeworking experiences to ensure that labour deployment strategies and homeworking supports maximise worker well-being, while preserving profitability.

Key Words: COVID-19; Well-being; Remote Working; Homeworking; Productivity

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[a] School of Economics & Geary Institute for Public Policy, University College Dublin, Dublin 4, Ireland. Corresponding author email: diane.pelly@ucdconnect.ie

[b] London School of Economics & Geary Institute for Public Policy, University College Dublin

[c] School of Economics & Geary Institute for Public Policy, University College Dublin

[d] Thanks to Michael Daly at Maynooth University for very helpful comments on this paper

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