How is the COVID-19 accidental experiment around working from home changing the way the UK will work after lockdown?

  • Researchers: Dr Jane Parry, Professor Yehuda Baruch, Dr Mina Beigi, and Dr Michail Veliziotis
  • Research partners: Half the Sky, Institute for Employment Studies
  • Funding body: ESRC
  • Project status: Current

Using online surveys, organisational case studies and secondary analysis of national datasets, a team of experts, three of who are associated with the Work Futures Research Centre, will review employer actions, practices and strategic decision-making, as well as employee experiences of working from home (WfH) during lockdown. As organisations re-orientate towards economic recovery, it will be vital to understand the significance of contrasting business models and how working practices are changing post-lockdown.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) estimated that 5% of UK employees were working mainly from home, and up to 30% had ever done so. The UK’s lockdown has radically disrupted organisational expectations and practices, with enforced working from home becoming the norm for many employees over recent months. The ONS has continued to report increasing working from home rates during lockdown – reaching 49% of employees by mid-June: a significant new homeworking army. Amid this change, the pandemic provides managers with a unique context for reflecting upon the possibilities and constraints of a remote workforce.

Thanks to funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), part of UK Research and Innovation, a new cross-institutional project led by the University of Southampton Business School will explore how the pandemic has influenced two different UK sectors: Professional Services and Public Administration. It will analyse the longer-term implications of working from home, looking at which new behaviours and working practices will remain, and which should be encouraged. The research is designed to support economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, and will be running regular webinars to engage with employers and share results over the coming months.

More information

Please contact the PI of the project, Dr Jane Parry: