How Are Employees Feeling About Working From Home?
Many people have had to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. The unpredictability has forced many to adjust their work styles which has been challenging. But how have people reacted to telecommuting work?
Recent research in the Journal of Applied Psychology explored employees’ emotional responses to working from home as a result of the disruptive events during the pandemic. The researchers explored this topic with the use of machine learning. An algorithm was used to examine content of 1.56 tweets posted by 706,142 Twitter users between the time frame of March 1, 2020 and July 1, 2020.
The results revealed various emotions. The tweets revealed that there were large declines in anger, disgust, fear, and sadness towards telecommuting when the stay-at-home orders were first put into effect. Initially, there wase a rise in joy. However, these emotions were short-lived. After the stay-at-home orders were in effect for a substantial amount of time, there was an increase in anger and disgust towards working from home. There was also a significant decline in joy. When this emotional shift occurred, anger and disgust towards working from home returned to pre-stay-at-home order levels and at times, exceeded pre-stay-at-home order levels.
The researchers suggested that these emotions were likely influenced by the uncertainty associated with re-opening plans at the later stages of the stay-at-home order. However, when the expiration date of the stay-at-home order neared, employees had to deal with other stressors (e.g., potential virus exposures, adapting to new organizational rules related the virus, school closure stressors, etc.).
There are several implications of these findings. Because the study revealed emotional benefits (e.g., reduce anger, reduced disgust, increased joy) resulted from the issuing of the stay-at-home order, employers offering work from home policies may produce immediate benefits to employees. However, given these benefits faded over time, it is important for employers to continue to offer support (e.g., flexible work hours, childcare support, etc.) for employees who choose to work from home to maintain these emotional benefits.
Min, H., Peng, Y., Shoss, M., & Yang, B. (2021). Using machine learning to investigate the public’s emotional responses to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Applied Psychology, 106(2), 214-229.