The transition to home office has mainly been successful

More than 5,000 people responded to the multidisciplinary Fast Expert Teams network online survey on working from home during the corona crisis. Especially in the public sector, the majority of employees have successfully transitioned to the home office.
Picture of a laptop computer in an outdoors location

The transition to working from home has sparked various feelings in Finnish employees. Especially in the public sector, the majority of employees have successfully transitioned to the home office and feel they are efficient, cost-effective and productive. At the same time, however, some employees find working from home inconvenient, inefficient and socially isolating.

‘At its best, working from home gives the employee the opportunity to focus and schedule their work flexibly. It does, however, require adjustment,' says Kirsimarja Blomqvist, LUT Professor of Knowledge Management.

The information emerges from a national working from home survey, which was conducted as part of the Working from Home laboratory team of the Fast Expert Team. Fast Expert Teams is a multidisciplinary expert network created during the corona crisis. The idea is to quickly bring experts from different fields together to solve complex problems digitally. Blomqvist is the convener and director of the network.

The experiences of Finnish employees in the transition to home office were gathered with an online survey. A total of 5,450 people responded, of which 3,155 represented the public sector. The average age of respondents was 45 years and 68% of them were women. About 40% of the respondents had children under 18 years of age at home. The survey was conducted between 26 March and 15 April.

‘In this survey, we mapped the initial experiences of transitioning to home office. The survey is part of a longitudinal study and we will follow up the experiences with further studies', Blomqvist explains.

Nearly every respondent had transferred to the home office

97% of the respondents had transferred to working from home or had increased working from home. Before the corona crisis, about 70% of the respondents had never worked from home or had not worked from home more than one day per week.

A majority of the respondents had no problems transferring to working from home. Overall, 65% of respondents were satisfied with working from home, 54% were satisfied with their productivity and 42% with the balance between work and their personal lives. 66% felt that there were fewer interruptions and disruptions while working from home than in the workplace. 72% of the respondents felt that they could concentrate on their work equally well or better than at the workplace.

A study or a designated work area made it easier to focus on working.

‘Employees with their own work areas felt they were more efficient than others. For some, however, the conditions while working from home were very challenging, as no preparations had been made for the possibility of working from home, and in some cases there were school-aged children who needed support with schoolwork and a spouse who also worked from home', says Blomqvist.

Co-workers were missed

Some of the employees found working from home in many ways difficult, inefficient and socially insulating. The experience of working from home was influenced by, among other things, factors affecting the work done at home and the nature of the work when it depended on other people.

Employees who worked from home also missed their co-workers. 74% of respondents felt negative about being separated from their colleagues. More than half of the respondents (54%) felt isolated and missed their colleagues (56%).

‘By investing in working conditions, work tasks, communication, training and management, working from home is an opportunity for many knowledge workers and organisations. At best, everyone wins, which means that there will be both savings and productivity in addition to well-being', says Blomqvist.

Working from home more common in the future

Researchers in the Fast Expert Teams network believe that working from home will become more common at workplaces after the corona crisis. It is therefore important that workplaces develop the conditions of working from home and that employees are trained in how technology can be used for different work tasks in an appropriate manner.

‘Working from home can be very beneficial if it is used in a way that is best suited to the tasks, employees and workplaces', says Blomqvist.

In the future, the study will focus especially on employees with little previous experience of working from home and employees who do demanding teamwork remotely.

The Fast Expert Teams network comprises experts from LUT University, Aalto University, University of Jyväskylä, University of Eastern Finland, University of Tampere, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Sitra Lab, Academy of Science, Gofore, Howspace, Humap Consulting Oy, Skillhive, Solved, Regional Council of Häme, The Ministry of Employment and the Economy, The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Transport and Communications..

The report on the first results of the Working from Home survey can be read here: https://cocodigiresearch.com/covid-19-and-remote-work-in-finland/

For more information, please contact:

Kirsimarja Blomqvist, Professor of Knowledge Management, LUT University kirsimarja.blomqvist@lut.fi, tel. + 358 40 755 1693

Annina Ropponen, Senior Researcher, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health annina.ropponen@ttl.fi, tel. + 358 43 825 1392

Matti Vartiainen, Professor of Work and Organizational Psychology, Aalto University matti.vartiainen@aalto.fi, tel. +358 50 555 3380

Anu Sivunen, Professor of Communications, University of Jyväskylä, anu.e.sivunen@jyu.fi, tel. +358 40 735 427

Ward van Zoonen, Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Jyväskylä, ward.w.vanzoonen@jyu.fi

Thomas Olsson, Associate Professor of Computer Science, University of Tampere thomas.olsson@tuni.fi, tel. +358 40 849 0819

Kaisa Henttonen, Docent, University Researcher, University of Eastern Finland kaisa.henttonen@uef.fi, tel. +358 50 435 2664