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The psychological effects of remote working

In this video Professor Marc Jones discusses briefly the psychological effects of remote working.
The issue of remote or agile working is certainly something that many organisations and workplaces are wrestling with. And in particular, trying to figure out what are the benefits to greater levels of remote working within their employees. And perhaps what are some of the challenges and also how those challenges can be overcome. What I’d like to do in this brief video is just to talk about some of the benefits and some of the challenges from a overview of research that we conducted as a joint project between ourselves and Nuffield Health. Now, there are many benefits of remote working to employees, including an easier integration of work and home lives, more autonomy in work.
reduced commuting costs in time and increased job satisfaction, and reduced turnover intentions. So they are list of things that many individuals report as being greater or better, if you like, as a result of having the ability to work remotely, or at least in an agile way where they are not having to go into the office five days a week. And in fact, the flexibility to enable employees to more cohesively balance their home and work lives has been highlighted as a positive in the Marmot Review. There is also evidence that employees engaged in remote working report lower levels of work exhaustion and lower work stress.
So there are emerging benefits from the research that suggests that at least some level of agile working, some level of remote working perhaps two or one day a week at home, yield these particular benefits. However, one of the major challenges of working from home is the potential increase in work home interference. Work home interference refers to the process of negative interaction between work and home domains and increasing expectations regarding availability. So perhaps employees feel particularly compiled to respond to messages that they might receive. And so this might be particularly acute during large-scale periods of home working as we are observing during this Covid-19 pandemic.
And so we get this blurring of boundaries, if you like, between our work life and our home life. And in this course is some really interesting data that emerged from Microsoft when they tracked their employees activity and that is in one of the tasks that we will cover this week. So these pressures of course, need not necessarily be overt, although sometimes they can be, were managers might set clear expectations to remain engaged via electronic communication such as email. But they might also be a result of more subtle expectations or company norms or the company culture where people want to demonstrate an increased work ethic or it becomes the norm to respond to emails outside of normal working hours.
And having discusse some of the benefits of working, it would be remiss not to mention that in some of the studies there is evidence that remote working may have negative impacts on life satisfaction and result in increased exhaustion. In addition to some of the mental and physical health effects of working from home, there are potential impacts on productivity. And in some of the data that we’ve seen, we’ve seen an increase in productivity from working from home, but I think that’s going to differ depending on the type of organisation that you are part of.
I think one of the really interesting things from the recent Covid-19 pandemic and the change in working practises is to see some of these issues emerge and being discussed in the media. So for example, it might be perfectly reasonable for someone who has been at their job for a number of years, like myself, to work at home, but for someone who’s just starting a new job and that inability to be able to learn in informal manners from or informal ways from some of the more experienced members in a department is missing when they start to work from home. Some types of activities and sort of creative activities might, if they are solitary, such as writing, be better done from home.
But where we need discussion and debate that might be better done face-to-face. And so there are nuances around the type of work that people are engaged in, the type of task we have to do, as well to consider. So we do recognise there is much to consider in terms of the psychological effects of remote working. And in the next activity, we explore this in more detail and consider some of the practical strategies that line managers and organisations can adopt.

Do the psychological effects of remote working discussed by Professor Marc Jones relate to your own experiences?

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