Working from home: a blessing or a curse?

In the morning she meets in her pajamas with bosses online, at noon she sits on a yoga mat to relax a bit, and in the early evening she is with the family: in real life not many people have this perfect picture of working in the home. A year and a half after the spread of the Corona pandemic, studies and opinion polls reveal a mixed picture of the psychological and physical consequences of working at home.


What is certain is that the pandemic has boosted working from home. According to a study conducted by the “Hans Böckler” Foundation, before the Corona crisis, 44% of workers were working. Only of the workforce in Germany is mainly or exclusively at home, then the proportion rose during the first shutdown in April 2020 to 27%. The numbers are now declining again, but they are still much higher than they were before the pandemic.


Studies now provide indications of the consequences of working from home, such as a study by Microsoft and published in the journal Nature Human Behavior. The tech giant, which was commissioned to conduct the analysis, mandated work from home on its employees in March 2020. The study has now analyzed the data and communications of nearly 61,000 employees from December 2019 through June 2020.


The result: although more work was done at home, there were negative effects on communication and collaboration between different departments. Specifically, employees spent less time in face-to-face conversations, and instead used more email or text messages. According to the study's authors, this leads to the isolation of employees and reduced information sharing. This can have a negative impact on production and innovation.
Hannes Tschacher, an expert in organizational and work psychology at the German University of Leipzig, believes that the study highlights only one aspect. Positive for employees – but only if it stays within a certain framework.”
Tasakhr explained that studies indicate that allowing one or two days a week to work from home is ideal for employees to feel satisfied and enhance productivity, adding that in such a framework it will be possible to organize communication not only digitally, but also personal conversations, and said: “From From a psychological perspective, videoconferencing is still better than email exchange. However, in the long run, this cannot replace face-to-face conversations, especially when it comes to dialogues aimed at fostering trust, collaborating creatively, or resolving conflicts.”
At the end of 2019, Tasakher himself began conducting a survey of nearly 1,000 employees about their physical and psychological health, and the study became long-term with the outbreak of the Corona pandemic, and the survey has been conducted on participants every month since March 2021. Thus, the psychological expert collected observations about The consequences of the Corona crisis on the world of work.
Among these observations is that “before the pandemic, the feeling of comfort among extroverts was higher compared to introverts, then the matter was reversed, and extroverts became more prone to stress due to the situation, while introverts deal with it better,” adding that people who are distinguished by their conservative nature found options such as holding meetings via video More fun.
At the same time, Tasakhar and his colleagues found that with the option to work from home, teams quickly split into subgroups — an observation that fits one of the findings in the Microsoft study. Tasakhar explains that the presence of employees working from home and others from the workplace may be one of the causes of resentment among workers, adding that the company’s management in this case must ensure that there are no feelings of inequality, and said: “Managers must communicate with employees and justify work structures well so as not to negatively affect employee satisfaction or the company’s work culture.” 
Tasakhar stated that in all discussions about working from home, we should not forget that the workplace is also an important resource, and he said: “The office is a great balancing factor in which everyone has the same capabilities,” explaining that when working at home, on the other hand, social and economic factors play a role. Dora. “Childless couples who live in a large house can certainly work at home better than single parents or younger employees who, for example, live in shared apartments or cramped quarters,” Tascher says.

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