Homeworking and the Great Lockdown

Using a new large COVID-19 survey, Darja Reuschke together with Prof Alan Felstead (Cardiff University) provide new evidence on the dramatic changes in homeworking in the UK.

We find that the sudden change in the level of homeworking was most striking amongst employees. The self-employed were more used to work always at home even before the pandemic even started – although also amongst them homeworking rocketed during the first month of the lockdown. A large proportion of employees who worked from or at home during the lockdown were ‘new’ homeworkers. Mental well-being has become a general public health concern, however, new homeworkers varied in their mental health status little to established homeworkers suggesting that the lockdown affected all while homeworking on aggregate did not substantially decrease the mental well-being of workers.

  • One month into the lockdown, 44% of women and 46% of men were exclusively working at home.
  • Almost two-thirds of workers (63%) worked from home at least some of the time during the lockdown compared to an estimated 12.3% in 2019.
  • 44% of employees worked always from home in April 2020, up from 3% before the lockdown.
  • 52% female employees and 46% male employees who worked from or at home during the lockdown were ‘new’ homeworkers who had not worked from home in January or February 2020.
  • The growth of homeworking has varied across the UK with substantially higher proportions of new homeworkers in regions/countries with previously relatively low rates of homeworking, especially Scotland.
  • Measured on the aggregate General Health Questionnaire score GHQ-12, the mental health status of new homeworkers is little different to those with previous homeworking experiences.
  • Small differences in mental health relate to specific domains of the GHQ-12: the ability to concentrate, depression and the enjoyment of day-to-day activities – which were more negative amongst new homeworkers to those with homeworking experiences.

Please find here the full report: https://wiserd.ac.uk/publications/effect-great-lockdown-homeworking-united-kingdom

A blog is also published on this study by the PrOPEL Hub: https://www.propelhub.org/homeworking-rockets-new-evidence/

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