Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees moved their working life from the office to their homes– either completely or at least partially. This change to their daily work routine raised several challenges.
But what are the consequences of working remote, for both employees and companies? And how does it impact not only the employee’s commitment and productivity, but also their emotional exhaustion and social solitude? The University of Konstanz researched these very questions. In the course of a longitudinal study (March 2020-January 2021), we conducted a survey among a representative sample of the German working population.
In January 2021, the full potential of working remote to reduce the infection risk had not yet been tapped. Compared to the beginning of the pandemic, when almost everybody who could work remotely did so, in January 2021 one fifth of employees said they are now back working fulltime in the office. Besides the employers’ request to return to their usual workplace, 36% did so because of their personal preferences. When it comes to comparing the perceived productivity and the emotional exhaustion of the employees, a considerable difference between those who work remote and those who don’t becomes apparent. Whereas 85% of the employees who work in a flexible model indicate that their productivity is “high” or “very high”, this is only the case for 73% of those, who returned to their usual working place. Working in a flexible model also seems to be beneficial to employees’ mental health: 21% of those who work remotely admitted they were emotionally exhausted, compared to 26% of those who returned to their usual working place.
The full findings of the study can be found on the website of the University of Konstanz.