Homeworking, well-being and the Covid-19 pandemic: A diary study

Stephen James Wood, George Michaelides, Ilke Inceoglu, Elizabeth T. Hurren, Kevin Daniels, Karen Niven

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Abstract

As a response to the Covid-19 pandemic, many governments encouraged or mandated homeworking wherever possible. This study examines the impact of this public health initiative on homeworkers’ well-being. It explores if the general factors such as job autonomy, demands, social support and work–nonwork conflict, which under normal circumstances are crucial for employees’ well-being, are outweighed by factors specific to homeworking and the pandemic as predictors of well-being. Using data from four-week diary studies conducted at two time periods in 2020 involving university employees in the UK, we assessed five factors that may be associated with their well-being: job characteristics, the work–home interface, home location, the enforced nature of the homeworking, and the pandemic context. Multi-level analysis confirms the relationship between four of the five factors and variability in within-person well-being, the exception being variables connected to the enforced homeworking. The results are very similar in both waves. A smaller set of variables explained between-person variability: psychological detachment, loneliness and job insecurity in both periods. Well-being was lower in the second than the first wave, as loneliness in-creased and the ability to detach from work declined. The findings highlight downsides of homeworking, will be relevant for employees’ and employers’ decisions about working arrangements post-pandemic, and contribute to the debate about the limits of employee well-being models centred on job characteristics.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7575
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume18
Issue number14
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jul 2021

Keywords

  • Covid-19 pandemic: job autonomy
  • Detachment from work
  • Homeworking
  • Loneliness
  • Social support
  • Work–nonwork conflict

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