Research & Innovation

SSE Researches the Impacts of Work-From-Home

Man using laptop computer in his house.
Photo credit: Canva for Education

To identify the needs and limitations of employees in work-from-home arrangements implemented due to the Covid-19 pandemic, two faculty members from the School of Systems & Enterprises (SSE), Associate Professor Jose Ramirez-Marquez and Professor and Executive Director of SERC Dinesh Verma, created a framework categorizing individual worker perspectives and sentiments shared within surveys and on social media.

The findings are relevant to employers and human resource departments as they address work-at-home policies. Using this research, businesses can better understand and respond to the factors that influence employee satisfaction, providing the required conditions for effective communication, talent retention and maintained productivity.

Jose Ramirez-Marquez, Associate Professor and Division Director of Enterprise Science and Engineering
Jose Ramirez-Marquez, Associate Professor and Division Director of Enterprise Science and Engineering

Published in Systems Engineering, the framework identified seven factors expressed by workers for employers to consider:

  • Work-life balance
  • Time management
  • Teamwork changes
  • Communication changes
  • Workspace
  • Social interaction
  • Societal consequences

These factors were analyzed and rated positively or negatively during work-at-home experiences. Positive examples of sentiments included travel flexibility and time efficiency while negative factors included isolation and technology issues.

While many aspects of work-from-home have remained unchanged since March 2020, the researchers concluded that specific distractions such as childcare have decreased and access to resources at home have increased. Employers should consider such changes when addressing remote work, such as establishing work location schedules and training for digital communication softwares.

Dinesh Verma, Professor and Executive Director of SERC
Dinesh Verma, Professor and Executive Director of SERC

Partnering with co-authors Kara Pepe, Maria Jose Perez-Pereda and Pouria Babvey from SSE’s Systems Engineering Research Center (SERC), Ramirez-Marquez and Verma gathered data by conducting two surveys, one targeting systems engineers in March 2020 and another one year later in March 2021. Survey responses were compared to Twitter data from the general work population during those periods and used to determine how work-from-home sentiments changed over time across groups.

“Given the networked and collaborative nature of SSE’s Systems Engineering Research Center, with its constituent 20+ university partners, this research was important for us to better understand the evolving, and some cases, enduring impact of Covid-19 on our research activities,” said Verma. “Collecting data from engineers and researchers in industry, government and academic — domestically and globally — over the course of the past two years has allowed this research to provide useful insights for leaders to leverage.”

For more information on the framework, view the collected data figures via SERC or contact Jose Ramirez-Marquez at [email protected], Kara Pepe at [email protected] or Dinesh Verma [email protected].