School of Business and Economics

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19 Aug 2020

Researchers use Facebook to learn more about people’s experiences of working from home during lockdown

Researchers use Facebook to learn more about people’s experiences of working from home during lockdown

Researchers - including Dr. Cheryl Travers from Loughborough Univeristiy School of Business and Economics - have used Facebook to gather information about people’s experiences of working from home to learn more about the work-life balance of lockdown.

Academics from Loughborough, Leicester, Coventry and Birkbeck Universities invited members of the public to join a specially created group and share thoughts, blogs, photos, videos, memes and other information about their work habits since the lockdown began in March.

The team wanted to learn more about how people with different jobs and domestic responsibilities coped with home-working, as well as the impact on mental health, wellbeing and relationships, the physical challenges, and how these changed over time.

Main aims

  • Gain insight into the demands of homeworking during the pandemic
  • Develop guidance to help people manage homeworking more effectively post Covid-19
  • Explore the use of social media as a novel method for understanding remote-working

To date, more than 200 people have been posting to the group since its launch in March, with many posting regularly and documenting their changing experiences.

Researchers were met with a variety of responses – both positive and negative.

Some referred to the temporary impact on cognitive function – or brain fog, as described by one group member.

"I started out with brain fog. But looking back I'm wondering if that was extreme anxiety about delivering teaching online and feeling deskilled with minimal tech resources – with no practical or constructive responses to any expression of anxiety from [my] boss. I felt paralysed with fear to be honest.” – Facebook group post

Similarly, some others mentioned experiencing mental fuzziness and muddy headedness.

Loughborough’s Dr Cheryl Travers, who is leading the study, said: “With social media being used as a key communication tool during the pandemic, we felt that this was an exciting opportunity to harness in-the-moment experiences of those working at home.

“When a situation such as working from home is suddenly imposed, and without time for planning or guidance, it can impact on people’s mental, physical, social and cognitive wellbeing.

“It has been a very stressful time, and many people are having to balance competing demands relating to work, caring and home-schooling while being anxious about their own health and that of their family and job insecurity.

Key findings

  • People reported being reluctant to abandon the flexibility of working from home once lockdown has eased
  • Group members began to develop a strong sense of community and offered support and advice to people who were struggling with competing priorities and different challenges
  • People’s experiences differed according to their facilities and their caring responsibilities
  • Group members tended to adjust to their new working practises over time

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