Working from home in the Coronavirus crisis: Towards a transformation of work environments?

When working from home, most employees work longer and more productive than at the office, yet some suffer from emotional exhaustion and isolation

Summary

Most employees say that they work longer and more productively at home than in the office, yet some also suffer from loneliness and isolation. Nevertheless, a large proportion (56 percent) does not wish to return to full-time attendance; a majority of those surveyed would prefer to work from home two to three days a week. On the question of a legal right to mobile work, the population is divided. This is the result of a representative study by the Cluster of Excellence “The Politics of Inequality” at the University of Konstanz, published in cooperation with the think tank Das Progressive Zentrum.

The authors of the study, Prof. Dr. Florian KunzeKilian Hampel and Sophia Zimmermann, see a possible reason for the great support for working from home in the fact that the vast majority of those surveyed perceive themselves as motivated and productive in the home office. 45 percent even stated that they can work more effectively than in the office. Another reason for supporting mobile work could be the compatibility of work and private life. 70 percent of those surveyed stated that this is better handled in the home office – regardless of whether they have underage children to look after or not.

However, a large minority also reports serious disadvantages: One in five feels lonely and socially isolated in the home office. Also, almost one in six complains of emotional exhaustion. This stands in contrast with the fully convinced people: one in four would is willing to work without an office visit at all – and remain in home office entirely.

Main Findings

  • When working from home, most employees work longer and more productive than at the office, yet some suffer from emotional exhaustion and isolation. 
  • A majority of staff does not prefer to return to full-time in-office work: 56 percent of respondents would rather work from home at least some of the time.
  • Respondents are divided on supporting a statutory right to work from home.

Prof. Dr. Florian Kunze is Professor of Organizational Studies at the University of Konstanz and a member of the Cluster of Excellence “The Politics of Inequality”. He conducts research on generation management, digitalization in the work environment, successful leadership, and remote work at home.

Kilian Hampel is a research associate in the working group for Organizational Studies of Florian Kunze. His research focuses on the digital transformation of the world of work, management of demographic change, aging in the workplace, and the introduction of new forms of work.

Sophia Zimmermann is a research associate in Florian Kunze’s research group for Organizational Studies. Her research focuses on employee management, digitization in the world of work and demographic change.

This Policy Paper was published in cooperation with the cluster of excellence „The Politics of Inequality“ at the University of Konstanz together with the think tank Das Progressive Zentrum.

Authors

Florian Kunze ist Professor für Organizational Studies an der Universität Konstanz und Mitglied des Exzellenzclusters „The Politics of Inequality“. Seine Forschungsinteressen liegen in den Bereichen Generationenmanagement, erfolgreiche Führung, Digitalisierung in der Arbeitswelt und erfolgreiches Arbeiten im Homeoffice.
Sophia Zimmermann ist wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin der Arbeitsgruppe für Organizational Studies von Florian Kunze. Ihre Forschungsschwerpunkte liegen im Bereich der Mitarbeiterführung, der Digitalisierung in der Arbeitswelt und des demographischen Wandels.
Kilian Hampel ist wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter der Arbeitsgruppe für Organizational Studies von Florian Kunze. Zu seinen Forschungsschwerpunkten zählen die digitale Transformation der Arbeitswelt, Management des demographischen Wandels, Alter(n) am Arbeitsplatz sowie die Einführung von neuen Arbeitsformen.

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