Many keen to continue working from home

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Photo: ODT files.
Many people want to continue working from home, at least part-time, following the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions but communication and workload issues must be addressed, a new study suggests.

A University of Otago business school study of 2595 New Zealanders working from home during the restrictions suggests most people were equally or more productive (73%).

Most people wanted to continue to work from home at least part of the time post-restrictions (89%), and 83% thought their organisation was doing its best during that
time.

"A balance is what we want — the best of both worlds for both the individual and the organisation," researcher Paula O’Kane said.

The survey showed organisations had successfully introduced working from home after little warning or preparation time, given the coronavirus pressures.

And workload expectations and successful communication and collaboration would need to be addressed for working from home to continue.

Workload expectations needed to be realistic and output-based.

There was also scope to improve strategic communication, and to avoid "multiple messages and information overload’’, she said.

The survey results show that working from home was new to most people, and that 65% were optimistic they could continue some form of remote working, representing a big shift in work behaviour.

When asked about potential challenges to working from home in the future, 27% saw none while 22% thought their organisation would not support it, and 13% thought their manager would not.

Researchers used a public online survey collected from May 6 to 25, mostly during Level 3 restrictions.

Study participants enjoyed greater flexibility in managing their day, but there were differences in response between working parents or caregivers and those with no responsibilities.

Balancing work and family was difficult, as was switching off from work.

"Exhaustion was specifically mentioned by many participants," she said.

Respondents also discussed anxiety surrounding Covid-19, the stress of virtual communication, the increased workload expectations from their employers and juggling home-schooling and child- care.

The lack of traffic and the daily commute was seen as the biggest advantage of working from home.


In short

Key working from home survey results

• A University of Otago study of 2595 New Zealanders working from home during lockdown suggests that most people were equally or more productive (73%).

• Many wanted to continue to work from home at least part of the time post-lockdown (89%).

• 38% had never worked from home in any way ,66% of people found it easy or somewhat easy to work from home.

• 83% were confident their organisation was doing its best during lockdown

• 82% felt they had the right resources to do their job, although only 17% had all those resources provided by their company.

john.gibb@odt.co.nz

Comments

Make sure phones are off caller number display.

IRD needs to decide if power and phone bills are work related costs, or employer subsidises.

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