Zooming through the working day – Mass homeworking and COVID measures, a lesson in future problems with the pace of work

Abigail Marks, Lila Skountridaki, Oliver Mallett, Danny Zschomler

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


For the past two decades we have been faced with futurists’ visions of work which typically involve predictions about the increasing commonality of homeworking, particular for professional and knowledge-based industries (e.g. Knell, 2000). This vision is often tied to discussions of the value of flexibility for both employees and organisations. Historically, research on homeworking (whether voluntary or imposed) has found that homeworking is positively associated with employee wellbeing and improved balance in terms of the work–home relationship (e.g. Redman et al., 2009).

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated both the practice of, and discussions about, homeworking with many large businesses indicating that a large proportion of their workforce will be based at home in the future – saving organisational responsibilities for high-cost real estate. Even the Welsh government has suggested that they aspire to 30% of employees either working from home or local hubs. While there are valid discussions about the financial implications of homeworking for employees, this paper is concerned with the impact of homeworking on the pace of work for employees, which has an obvious impact on wellbeing, work-life balance and physical health.

The data for this paper has been gathered as part of a UKRI/ESRC project (Working@Home) looking at homeworking under COVID-19 measures. The paper reports on 249 interviews conducted between May 2020 and February 2021 from 80 participants (from different socio-economic groups based across the UK) as well as two surveys of around 1400 participants each, looking at how the pace of work has changed for employees with the ‘mass homeworking experiment’. From this substantial body of data, whilst work-life balance has improved to some extent for workers, over the longer term it is clear that mass homeworking has a significant, and frequently negative impact on the pace of work. Employees are missing the ‘ebb and flow’ of the ‘normal’ working day, with an overall increase in intensification of work and a reduction in any down time during the working day, leading to exhaustion and overload. These findings have clear implications for any organisation or other body looking to promote, mass long-term homeworking.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2021
EventInternational labour Process Conference: Security in Work? The workplace after COVID-19 - Online, Greenwhich, United Kingdom
Duration: 12 Apr 202114 Apr 2021


ConferenceInternational labour Process Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


Dive into the research topics of 'Zooming through the working day – Mass homeworking and COVID measures, a lesson in future problems with the pace of work'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this