Residents of Philadelphia apartments were accustomed to their residences and work being two separate places for a very long time. However, the COVID-19 pandemic acted as a dramatic turning point in this regard. Working from home has now received a far-reaching fillip.
But levels of satisfaction among workers in home-based settings vary. We identified some key factors to explain these differences.
Teleworkers’ work motivation increased with:
The quality of the home office space is an important factor in satisfaction when working from home.
For sole parents, who are more likely to be women than men, telework at home can be an efficient and smart way of working. While having more time at home for their childcare responsibilities, they’re able to work and earn money for their household expenses.
Living and working in apartments can provide more opportunities for social interaction. It can also enable more efficient use of energy, which in return lowers costs.
Apartments in Philadelphia are located in high-density urban areas, which offer better access to office and business services, as well as other amenities.
At the same time, some factors decreased teleworkers’ motivation, including:
Access to public transportation might seem counterintuitive but while enabling work-related travel it also promotes more engagement outside the home, distractions to some extent, and fewer feelings of isolation. Work-life balance at this micro-scale also has to be negotiated individually.
Home workplace qualities neglected
Our latest collective experience of working from home has brought both the pitfalls and the positives into the light.
The academic literature on telework from fields such as organizational psychology focuses on maximizing economic and logistical efficiency. Many studies ignore the positive and negative effects being in the home has on the worker.
How to improve support for telework
There are currently no policies in place to support teleworkers’ access to appropriate conditions. They can still be left alone with a host of problems and personal challenges.
Many of these issues are rooted in place-related factors. There’s no assistance to cover the capital costs of home renovations made to provide a home office or telework space. Yet these modifications are of great importance for successfully working from home.
There is an inherent risk in creating policies that over-promote teleworking for economic gains. The negative consequences, such as increased social isolation, distraction, and work-family conflict, mainly affect the most vulnerable social groups. They include sole parents, people with disabilities, and older people.
The distractions of family life can be stressful for people working from home.
Based on our research, teleworking could be better supported by:
Teleworking seems set to become a more entrenched work practice than ever before. Yet factors such as the impacts of home and place on human motivation have not been dealt with.
Only time will tell whether teleworking proves to be productive for our society from a social and psychological standpoint.