The Study on Working From Home and Work-Life Balance under The Shadow of COVID-19, conducted by faculty members from Sabancı University and Istanbul University with the support of TÜBİTAK, investigated how those who live with their family and partially work from home during the pandemic in Turkey are affected by this situation and how they cope.
With the announcement of the COVID-19 pandemic by the World Health Organization on 11 March 2020, many private companies and institutions in Turkey as well as all over the world have started working from home in order to ensure social isolation. At a time when work-life balance is often discussed, institutions had the opportunity to observe the effects of working from home.
The Study on Working From Home and Work-Life Balance under The Shadow of COVID-19, conducted jointly by Mahmut Bayazıt, a faculty member at the Faculty of Management Sciences of Sabancı University, and İlknur Özalp Türetgen, a faculty member at the Psychology Department of Istanbul University, with the support of TÜBİTAK revealed how white-collar employees who live with their family and partially work from home during the pandemic in Turkey are affected by this situation and how they cope. The research addresses work-family balance; work-, health-, and life-related experiences of individuals, and the effects of individual differences on their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The majority prefer to work in the office a few days a week
Combining the data related to the time individuals dedicate to their home, to work, and to themselves, perceived social support and job security during the pandemic period, the study shows that the work from home experience differs depending on factors such as seniority, gender, marital status, and having children. Accordingly, many employees participating in the study prefer to keep working from home for at least a few days or more a week after the pandemic; the number of those who want to return to work is higher among top managers, senior employees, and men. In the process of working from home, the group that experiences work’s impact on family the most is composed of first-tier managers, while the group that experiences family’s impact on work the most is composed of faculty members.
Women are more likely to work from home despite having more difficulties
The research reveals that women are having more difficulties to cope with the pandemic period compared to men. Women are observed to experience the conflict caused by work roles preventing family-related responsibilities and family roles preventing work-related responsibilities more commonly in this work from home period. According to the results, women take on household chores more than they do, even when their career takes precedence over that of their partner's; they show more signs of physical stress such as body pain and fatigue, and more signs of psychological stress such as helplessness and resentment. Both work-family conflict and family-work conflict are the highest among the group of women with children under the age of 6. Despite all these results, women prefer to work from home as often as possible after the pandemic compared to men.
Married employees dedicated less time to themselves
Another result of the study is that married employees experience a number of difficulties more commonly than those who were single during the pandemic. Accordingly, married employees spend more time on household chores and dedicated less time to themselves, while they have more difficulty separating their areas of work from home. The results of the study indicate that marital status as well as having children are among factors which affect the desire to work from home. Among employees without children, the ratio of those who prefer to work from home as much as possible is close to 35%, while it is less than 20% for those with children.
It is observed that those who had work from home experience before the pandemic have more family-work conflicts than those who started working from home after the pandemic, had difficulty with transition from work to home during the day more frequently, and prefer to protect their working space from the rest of the home.
Levels of physical and psychological strain decreased over time
The 3rd report of the study shows that participants' levels of both physical and psychological strain and their conflicts between work and family areas decrease significantly over time during the pandemic. At the same time, during the pandemic period, there is a significant change in the individuals’ levels of satisfaction (in areas such as work, family, health) between weeks.
According to research findings, after June 1st, when the quarantine period ended, the time allocated to work and home increased rapidly, while the time allocated to self decreased. Another finding of the study is that those who receive high levels of social support from their manager and family have lower physical and psychological strain and higher satisfaction levels.
About The Study on Working from Home and Work-Life Balance under The Shadow of COVID-19
This 8-week longitudinal study conducted with the support of TÜBİTAK investigated the work-life balance, various experiences related to work, health, and life, and effects of individual differences on experiences of salaried employees working a full time or part time job who had to work remotely from a house which they shared with others due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The research data of the study consisting of two phases was collected using the online survey method betwee 23 May-13 July. The fist phase of the study included 441 employees and the second phase of the study involving the longitudinal data included 163 employees.