In a recent study, the researchers Marvin Deversi, Florian Englmaier, and Andreas Roider evaluate the home office experience of employees in two surveys with Dax30 companies. They find that although employees have the support they need to work productively from home, work satisfaction and perceived productivity during the crisis have fallen. While there exists an overall preference for a future extension of working from home among employees, some of them fear a deterioration of their company`s cooperation culture.
Home office during COVID-19
The COVID-19 crisis has induced many firms to expand their home office solutions for their employees and to switch to digital collaboration tools. Companies need to closely monitor their employees' experiences with remote working in order to be able to give them what they need to remain productive. Combining knowledge from research with experience from the private sector regarding remote working is one of the best ways to achieve this goal. One prime example of such an initiative is the collaboration of two Dax30 companies and the research team of Predictive People Analytics.
Evidence from Research
The researchers use a short survey to shed light on how the current COVID-19 crisis impacts the employees’ remote work experience. Thereby remote working patterns before and after the crisis as well as the impacts of working from home on perceived productivity are investigated. The survey further asked the participants how they appraise the quality of their team collaboration and of how they are managed in the current situation. Finally, the researchers wanted to know whether employees fear negative personal consequences of the extension of working-from-home practices, like lower salaries or a lower probability of getting promoted.
Before COVID-19, virtual collaboration and working from home was comparatively rare. During the crisis, there was a substantial expansion of the use of these tools which went along with several changes. At first, work satisfaction and perceived productivity decreased. Furthermore, some employees fear that working from home could potentially impede a successful collaboration with their colleagues. In contrast, the surveyed employees report a high level of team cohesion and are overall satisfied with their management. Overall, they are unconcerned regarding a potential decrease in their job promotion probability or their salaries due to more time spent in home office. Overall, there is a tendency towards a preference for an extension of working from home among employees.
The collected evidence shows the need for management interventions to improve productivity and satisfaction of employees working from home. Although employees report to be provided with the sufficient hardware and software to work from home, they have expressed concerns that working from home possibly impedes successful collaboration with their coworkers. The majority of responses regarding the personal and digital skills needed for a successful virtual collaboration, names almost exclusively general communication skills. This hints at the fact that management should focus on adopting the organizational structure and management practices of the company in order to foster the quality of their employees' collaboration.
After having laid out the evidence base, a further collaboration of the PPA team, consisting of researchers from LMU Munich and the University of Regensburg, could help identifying practices to achieve this goal.
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