Study shows embrace of remote working, but says line managers need support

A major new report shows big support for some form of remote working after Covid, but highlights the toll on line managers’ work life balance.

Flexible Working - women working at home on her computer

Occasionally, employers will deal with flexible working requests on an informal basis

The majority of workers who have switched to remote working as a result of Covid want to carry on working from home in some form in the future, according to a major new study which highlights the impact of the pandemic on line managers’ well being.

Early findings from the Work After Lockdown study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and based on 1085 survey responses and 38 qualitative interviews, show 73% workers surveyed want to carry on working from home in some form after the pandemic, with 88.5% saying they had got more work done or as much done as in the office. Sixty four per cent rated the ability to work flexibly as the best feature of working from home.

However,  82% said they miss the informal contact that they have with their colleagues in the office. The report also notes that high productivity has had a mental health impact, with greater work life balance and frequent contact with a manager helping to lessen this. Nevertheless, this has implications for the work life balance of managers who  reported lower levels of work/life balance.  One manager remarked: “It’s just diary saturated … the word to use is relentless.”

Principal investigator Dr Jane Parry, Director of the Centre for Research on Work and Organisations at Southampton Business School, University of Southampton, said: “These early findings show that people made impressive adaptations in being forced to work from home with little warning. But they also show that line managers carry the burden of making the experiment work, without any let-up in their previous workload, and in large part without any training around job design. Employers need to put in place greater support for line managers as they are the glue that holds organisations together.”



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