Never waste a good crisis – Which work-related COVID-19 changes are here to stay?

Which work-related COVID-19 changes are here to stay? We were able integrate a 9-item scale in the eleventh wave (12 June 2020 – 17 June 2020) of the large-scale data collection process of the Austrian Corona Panel Project . The items for the construct that we analyzed focused on whether respondents were in favor or against particular COVID-related changes in the work environment. Respondents are in general in favor to keep particular COVID-related changes in the working context, such as more flexibility with respect to home office, working hours, and part-time work. Respondent are also in favor for less bureaucratic procedures for sickness leave, and less business trips and outside appointment. However, this should not come with more employer control, nor with increasingly fading boundaries between personal and professional life contexts. These results mainly show the overall challenges for the future of work, where more autonomy and flexibility is desired, but not at the cost of losing a clear delineation between professional and personal contexts. Moreover, women are for several aspects more in favor to keep COVID-related changes, such as keeping distance in the work environment, less business trips, and flexibility with respect to part-time work and home-office. Younger respondents (under 45) are also in favor of less business trips and external appointments, however not as much as respondents above 45. Except for the reduction of business trips and external appointments, no significant differences are reported between employees of the private and the public sectors. This suggest how challenges are similar across these sectors, and both public and private organizations can learn from each other to shape new attractive work environments.
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