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U of R researcher collaborates on international study looking at the impact of working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic

News Release Release Date: November 6, 2020 2:00 p.m.

A University of Regina professor is part of a global network of researchers involved in a study looking at the experiences and opinions of university employees working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Preliminary results paint a mixed picture, but do show that there is still adaptation and t change to come and that employees need to be part of the discussion when management is making decisions about how their workplace responds to the pandemic.

Dr. Shelagh Campbell, Associate Professor with the Hill and Levene Schools of Business at the University of Regina, is one of more than a dozen researchers from universities across Canada and Australia who conducted the study.

The researchers sent out an online survey about working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic to employees at their respective universities. They received 11,000 responses. The survey respondents represent the varied workforce at universities — including academic positions, and administrative and professional roles. While working from home is more common among academics, the study found they typically had a more negative opinion about working from home during the pandemic, while administrative and professional employees have had more positive experiences. Other key findings include:

  • Variations in remote work preferences: People vary a lot in how much they want to work from home, however most want to do some of their paid work from home, but few want to work at home exclusively. For about a third of employees in both groups, the consensus is that a 50/50 balance between working from the office and working from home would be ideal.
  • Fewer interruptions: A majority of respondents find they are interrupted less by others at home because there are fewer people around. However, this also leads to feelings of isolation, a significant source of distress. However, working longer hours was a widespread negative impact of working from home
  • Academic employees: Academic employees find they end up spending more time meeting their teaching obligations and many find they have less time to spend on research. Women, in particular, have less time to finish or submit research papers. About 40 per cent  of academic employees who responded feel that their work spills over more into their home life, and almost as many feel more spillover from their home life into their working day.

Dr. Campbell suggests many of the survey findings might apply to similar white collar and professional workplaces where working from home has become the norm. Overall, the study found that there is no consistent view about what employees want. Working from home brings many favourable aspects, but respondents also find it problematic in any number of ways.

“There certainly is no one-size-fits-all solution,” says Dr. Campbell. “We found that people’s experiences with working from home differed greatly, and managers will need to involve their employees when making decisions and solving problems.”

Working from home during COVID-19: What do employees really want? written by Shelagh Campbell, Johanna Weststar, Carolyn Troup, David Peetz, Ioana Ramia, Sean O'Brady, Shalene Werth, and Susan Ressia was recently published by The Conversation. Read the full article here: https://www.uregina.ca/external/communications/feature-stories/current/2020/11-05.html

Dr. Shelagh Campbell is available for interviews, please contact Mindy Ellis to arrange.

About The University of Regina:

The University of Regina—with campuses located on Treaty 4 and Treaty 6 territories, the ancestral lands of the Cree, Saulteaux, Dakota, Lakota and Nakoda nations and the homeland of the Métis—is a comprehensive, mid-sized university that traces its roots back to the creation of Regina College in 1911. Today, more than 16,600 students study within the University's 10 faculties and three federated colleges (Campion College, First Nations University of Canada, and Luther College). The University of Regina has an established reputation for excellence and innovative programs that lead to undergraduate, master, and doctoral degrees.

 

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