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The influence of the physical home work environment on preceived productivity during the covid 19 pandemic

June 2021 | Monique Arkesteijn, Silvia Jansen, Bernice Kieft, Rianne Appel-Meulenbroek, Bartele Hoekstra, Pity Jongens-van der Schaaf

Short paper for the 20th EuroFM Research conference, 16/17 June 2021 / The 20th EuroFM Research Symposium

Background and aim.

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, Dutch employees were told to work from home as much as possible. Homeworking can
have benefits both for employees and employers, as some experience a productivity increase and a better work-life balance. However, it is also harder for employers to measure and monitor employees’ performance and for the employee it can cause social and professional isolation. Previous research studied homeworking from a voluntarily
perspective assuming that the home work environment was suitable to conduct homeworking. Little is known about the experience of ‘obliged’ home working. In this research, the suitability of the home work environment is examined by looking at the relationship of physical aspects of the home work environment with perceived
individual productivity.

Methods / Methodology

For this research the data at from an existing dataset (N = 36,102) was used, gathered by the research project “We Work from Home (WWH)”. Data was collected, on a weekly basis, from Dutch office workers in (mainly) public organizations from April till December 2020. The following aspects were examined with regard to the room people used for their working activities: (1) the original function, (2) private vs shared use, (3) size, (4) ambient factors, and (5) outside view.
Perceived individual productivity was measured on a ten-point scale. In this research descriptive and bivariate analyses (independent samples t-test or one-way anova) were conducted.

Results

Results showed that respondents who worked in a work room at home reported higher productivity (mean = 7.84, std. = 1.18) than respondents that worked in different types of rooms, especially those in the bedroom (mean = 7.45, std. = 1.38). In addition, respondents that did not have to share their workspace (mean = 7.83, std. = 1.19) reported higher productivity than those that (partly) did (mean shared = 7.57, std. = 1.34; mean both shared and private use = 7.52, std. = 1.34). Also, a higher productivity was found for respondents that indicated having ambient factors in their home work
environment, like plants, art, and colour, and to have an outside view from their workplace.

Originality 

The mass experiment of obliged homeworking provided a unique opportunity to study the relationship between physical aspects of the home work environment and perceived individual productivity.


Practical or social implications 

It is expected that after the pandemic, employees will work from home more often than before. The ultimate goal of this study was to provide organisations and homeworkers with guidelines that can help them to enhance a suitable home work environment.

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Contactperson

Bartele Hoekstra

Bartele Hoekstra

Researcher /MSc Management, specialisatie: Implementation and change management; Bachelor of Built Environment