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Learning to work from home: experience of Australian workers and organizational representatives during the first Covid-19 lockdowns

Samin Marzban (Melbourne School of Design, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia)
Iva Durakovic (Faculty of Built Environment, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia)
Christhina Candido (Melbourne School of Design, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia)
Martin Mackey (Sydney School of Health Sciences, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia)

Journal of Corporate Real Estate

ISSN: 1463-001X

Article publication date: 7 June 2021

Issue publication date: 3 August 2021

4543

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to provide a snapshot of workers’ experience while working from home (WFH) during the Australian lockdown in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. It focuses on lessons to inform organizations, employees and the design of the workspaces post-2020, human, organizational and environmental considerations may affect satisfaction, productivity and health.

Design/methodology/approach

Two separate surveys were designed for this study to target Australian organizations and knowledge workers. Participants included 28 organizations and 301 employees, and descriptive and correlational analyses were conducted.

Findings

Organizations stated productivity losses, maintaining culture and workplace health and safety concerns with WFH setup while employees were more concerned about their social interactions, internet connectivity and increased workload. Employees also found the social aspects of WFH challenging and disclosed that face-to-face interactions with their colleagues was the most important reason they wanted to return to the office. High level of trust and value was reported amongst the organizations and workers.

Originality/value

In the scarcity of academic literature around negative and positives of the WFH experiment during the COVID-19 pandemic, the main sources of information have been industry-focused reports. This study aims to contribute to this knowledge gap by identifying positives and negative aspects of WFH during the first wave of lockdowns in Australia in 2020 from the organization and workers’ perspective, including human, organizational and environmental considerations.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Authors thank all participants for taking the time completing the online survey. This research was funded by the Australian Government through the Australian Research Council’s Discovery Projects funding scheme (project DP190100705), and The University of Melbourne’s seed fund in humanities, arts and social sciences 2020. Survey data and Industry insight has also been contributed by Davenport Campbell as part of an ongoing research project with The University of New South Wales.

Citation

Marzban, S., Durakovic, I., Candido, C. and Mackey, M. (2021), "Learning to work from home: experience of Australian workers and organizational representatives during the first Covid-19 lockdowns", Journal of Corporate Real Estate, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 203-222. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCRE-10-2020-0049

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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