Many employees unexpectedly were required to work from home (WFH) during the COVID-19 pandemic.[1,2] With this abrupt change came to the challenge of blurred lines between career and personal life. Lacking designated home office spaces, countless individuals had to create improvised work setups in living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms, and wherever there was space, dining tables became desks; couches became office chairs; and kitchen became canteens. Adding to this, the closure of schools forced many working parents to attempt productivity while concurrently supervising their children. Furthermore, parents had to share electronic gadgets with children for online schooling. Quite suddenly and unexpectedly, countless individuals faced the challenges of juggling work with childcare, personal relationships, household chores, and family demands in general. Unless their dwellings already boasted dedicated home offices, workers were forced to improvise on the fly. Instead of working fewer hours, many employees found themselves putting in extra time. Working from home often makes it harder to concentrate due to ambient distractions such as ringing doorbells, noisy pets, household noise, and interrupting children. As a result of these changes, numerous employees have experienced lower work productivity, lessened motivation, increased stress, sleep deprivation, short temperedness, and poor mental and physical health.[3,4,5,6] Respondents in a recent survey stated that the biggest challenges of working from home include not being able to unplug after hours, difficulties in collaborating or communicating with colleagues, and a lack of motivation. Those working from home have also encountered an entirely new hurdle: ZOOM FATIGUE, a phenomenon of emotional and physical drain caused by video conferencing.
On the other hand, WFH gave job autonomy to employees, they were free to set their own schedule, spend quality time with their near and dear ones, work comfortably in comfortable attire, and having homemade food. The potential for cost efficiencies in comparison to the traditional office and the aim of providing people with more flexibility in choosing where to work, organizations have announced their aim to reduce their office space and introduce blended home-office working conditions post COVID-19.[9,10]
Insight into how people experience WFH is now even more important than before and IT sector mainly depended on WFH. The purpose of this study was therefore to investigate IT professional's experiences of WFH during the pandemic and to identify the main factors of advantages and disadvantages of WFH.[11,12]
MATERIALS AND METHODS
IT employees working from home were targeted to get responses about their experiences on WFH due to COVID-19 pandemic. Online survey was done by circulating Google forms through WhatsApp, Facebook, and E-mails. Participation in this research was voluntary, anonymous, and without any rewards. The survey included information on the study, the anonymity of the collected data, the future use of the data, and the respondents' right to delete their answers. Prior to filling responses, respondents agreed to consent by ticking the consent section in Google form. Forms were circulated to 300 IT professionals, of whom 230 of them responded and data of 101 individuals were selected in final analysis as rest had not answered many sections. The data collected were entered into excel sheet and appropriate statistical tests were applied.
Among selected ones 61.4% individuals were males and 38.6% were females with mean age of 29.82 ± 4.25 years. Out of selected responses, 84% of respondents were married while the rest 16 were unmarried. The mean working experience of employees was 7.8 ± 4.3 years while the mean experience of working online was 19.45 ± 1.33 months [Table 1].
The respondents rated 6 advantages and 11 disadvantages items on the Likert scale from 1 (strongly agree) to 5 (strongly disagree). In addition to lowering the risk of contracting and spreading the disease, saving traveling time and greater flexibility in working time were rated as the most important advantages. The biggest advantage which almost 99% of individuals agreed was saving of traveling time to go to office which was followed by 98% of individuals agreed to flexible working time as online work can be done any time compared to rudimentary offline office hour work [Table 2].
When question come on traveling expenditure 94% agreed but on the other hand, 6% of them were neutral as many companies give traveling services or traveling allowance, 99% of employees were of opinion that comfort of home with no outfit restriction was one of the greatest advantages of working online from home. 94% of respondents were thinking homemade food was again adding advantage on side of WFH but 2% disagreed and 4% of them were neutral [Table 2].
The most controversial question according to responses received was doing family trips while working online approx. 58% of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed but 39% disagreed or strongly disagreed as most of the time of day goes in working so even if they go for outing cannot enjoy to fullest [Table 2].
The biggest disadvantages were extending working hours, missing colleagues, missing getting out of the home, and sedentary lifestyle leading to poor physical health.
97% of individuals agreed on extended working hours and even working on holidays and 96% agreed upon improper work-life balance and sedentary lifestyle followed by health issues and 94% of respondents were of opinion that the weight gain due to overeating [Table 3]. 95% of respondents agreed upon no fixed break timings and just 2% disagreed; 95% agreed for increased electricity bill and 1% disagreed as either company either provided extra payment or increase was not considerable.
No face-to-face interaction among colleagues as disadvantage was opinion of 96% respondents, while no more learning from peers by 94%. As restrictions were put on public gathering and functions there was no socialization and no space for extracurricular activities was also seen as one of the disadvantages of WFH by 95% of respondents though 1% disagreed as life matters more than gathering.
As WFH forced everyone to stay at home this led to loss of personal space for family members send 94% of respondents, but 3% disagreed with this because of may be due to micro families. Next comes the question of a routine life which according to 92% of respondents was disturbed due to WFH as there was no schedule but 4% were of opinion that a proper schedule can be done to bring routine in life and balancing the work along with personal life [Table 3].
COVID-19 pandemic created astonishing situation in IT employees because of forced WFH as part of national lockdowns. The purpose of this study was to gain insights into the experiences of WFH among IT workers during the early weeks of the lockdowns and to determine the advantages and disadvantages of these experiences.
The first considerable topic that we sought to discourse on was the overall experience of WFH. The results revealed that WFH was encountered predominantly as positive for the majority of the respondents, with fewer respondents considering WFH mostly as a negative experience. Being in the middle of an international crisis and considering the pandemic's potential for causing mental strain, we expected that the respondents would have experienced the situation of WFH during the national lockdowns as more negative. However, in line with other recent studies, our findings showed that the majority of employees were mostly positive about WFH.
Overall, female workers, older workers, and those at higher income levels were found to be significantly more productive than their counterparts while WFH during the pandemic. The relationship of age and higher income has been demonstrated in previous research and Colley and Williamson found that women working from home during the pandemic showed a better integration of work-family responsibilities, which allowed them to be more productive.[13,14]
Men are increasingly putting more effort into household duties, but women continue to endure the great portion of the housework especially when it comes to childcare.[15,16]
It is found through other researches that there is approximately 90 min increased working time which was similar to our conclusion that 97% of respondents agreed upon.
Comfort from home increased productivity which was the same as finding as of ours agreed by 99% employees.
This survey investigated the employees' experience of WFH during the pandemic period and focused on advantages and disadvantages from their point of view. Overall, the results suggest that WFH is advantage to employees and it can be enhanced for increasing productivity by overcoming the disadvantages to a maximal extent possible.
We believe that this study contributes to adding up literature concerning WFH and the well-being of IT employees that, during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is marked with relevant emotional and health implications. Furthermore, the implications of this study are of further importance as they provide information concerning the needs of workers who have had to adapt to enforce full-time WFH due to the pandemic, most of whom have no prior WFH experience. In times of pandemic, such as the COVID-19, where containing the spread of the disease is crucial, WFH is a key opportunity and can give a competitive advantage to sustain and improve the performance of organizations.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
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