SBS professors contribute to STUC report on home working

365 days of working from home: ground-breaking survey of over 3000 workers reveals their experiences of working from home and hopes and fears for the future.

To mark a year since millions of workers began to leave the workplace and work remotely from home. The STUC has released preliminary findings of the "Covid-19 and Working from Home Survey" undertaken by professors Phil Taylor and Dora Scholarios (University of Strathclyde Business School) and Professor Debra Howcroft (University of Manchester).

The survey reveals a very mixed picture, with winners and losers over the past year.  There are widely differing views about more permanent working from home (WFH) arrangements post-pandemic.   The majority of the respondents were those who normally worked in office environments.   Respondents were from Telecoms (24%), Local Government (18%), Financial Services (15%) and Civil Service (15%). Nearly all were unions members (thus likely to generally experience better protected environments).  This suggests that negative experiences and worries might be higher among the entire cohort currently WFH.

Responding to the survey findings STUC General Secretary Roz Foyer said, “This work reflects what we have been hearing from unions across Scotland.   The experiences of working from home and attitudes toward future home working are very varied. Significant numbers of workers have experienced work intensification and stress over the past year, yet for many others the overall experience has been positive. 

Foyer warned against blanket changes to work arrangements or sweeping office closures: “A key conclusion is that many workers are positive about some degree of future home working, but this must be optional, flexible and only undertaken through negotiation.  Millions of workers were not initially employed to work from home and have a right to resist imposed changes. There has never been a more important time for these workers to join a union.”

Professor Phil Taylor, Department of Work, Employment and Organisation, said, “There is a majority preference from workers of wanting to spend two days or less in the workplace. However, a ‘blanket’ approach is inappropriate.

“There is also compelling evidence that WFH is not desirable for a significant minority. The reasons are many and complex, but include inadequate domestic workstation arrangements, space constraints, compromised work-life balance, gendered experiences of domestic and household burdens and loneliness and isolation.

“Employers will need to accommodate, and unions to represent, multiple, often contrasting, worker interests and preferences. The development of agile or hybrid arrangements should follow best practice by being fully negotiated with unions.”

The research has attracted wide media interest including:

London Evening Standard: Most employees want to continue working from home some of the time, study finds.

The Herald: Working from home — Most workers want to keep going

Microsoft News: Most employees want to continue working from home some of the time, study finds

BBC Radio Scotland – Good Morning Scotland (From 46.28 to 52.33)