Most Kiwis just as productive working from home - Otago study

Photo: Getty
The study found most people want to continue to work from home at least part of the time post lockdown. Photo: Getty Images
A University of Otago study has found almost three quarters of people were either just as or more productive working from home during lockdown.

The business school study of 2595 New Zealanders working from home during lockdown found 73% of people were equally or more productive compared to working in the office.

Most people wanted to continue to work from home at least part of the time post lockdown (89%).

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

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

Key points

  • A University of Otago study of 2,595 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 organisations 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.

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 our 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 between May 6 and May 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.

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