In early 2020 as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many workplaces around the world were closed, requiring employees to work from home.

In this webinar we will discuss findings from a Cranfield research project, launched in early April to capture employees’ lived experiences of working at home during this time. We will discuss the implications of the findings for the successful implementation of flexible working in the future.

Large numbers of the workforce experienced this sudden shift to working from home on a full-time basis, including both those who had never worked remotely before and those who had worked home for part of the work-week, or on an occasional basis. From the beginning, it was unclear how long this move out of the workplace would last. Although most forms of flexible working, including remote working, have been increasing over many years, the scale and intensity of this was a new experience for many organisations and for employees.

Cranfield academics, Dr Deirdre Anderson and Professor Clare Kelliher have researched the implementation and outcomes of flexible working for many years and were keen to understand how this enforced working from home differed from employees choosing to work from home; such employees have been the focus of most studies before 2020. They launched a diary-based study in the first few weeks of lockdown, asking participants to record their personal experiences of managing work and other aspects of life as they adjusted to these new circumstances.

An overview of the early analysis from this research will be presented in the webinar and together with Visiting Professor Sarah Jackson, the wider implications of these findings will be discussed. Many knowledge-based businesses are considering moving to a more “hybrid” form of office and home working. They may face many challenges, including around employee wellbeing, team cohesion, shared culture and innovation.

What lessons can be learnt from this diary study for the next stage in the development of flexible working?

Chair: Visiting Professor Sarah Jackson and former CEO of Working Families, the UK Work-Life Balance charity

Speakers: Dr Deirdre Anderson, Senior Lecturer in Organizational Psychology and Professor Clare Kelliher, Professor of Work and Organisation


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