News - June 4, 2020

Three-quarters working from home

Roelof Kleis

Fewer than three-quarters of WUR staff are working from home. They are struggling too as it is not easy to find a good work-life balance.

These findings come from a survey on working from home among employees. This was the first of a planned series of ‘Pulse’ studies: short sample surveys to sound staff out on specific topics in between the Employees’ Monitor that takes place every two years. The scores give the situation at the end of April when 500 employees received an online questionnaire from the survey firm Effectory.

On campus

Only 34 per cent of those 500 questionnaires were completed, half the response rate for the Employees’ Monitor. One striking result is that far from everyone is working from home. A quarter of the employees are working partially or entirely on campus or at another WUR location. That figure undoubtedly reflects the fact that a lot of lab work is continuing, although respondents were not asked to give a reason.

The home workers are managing OK. They give just under a seven for working effectively. But there are some downsides too. One in five employees has difficulty focusing on their work while at home. The kids and ambient noise are the most commonly cited reasons for not being able to concentrate. People are also distracted by general worries about the coronavirus crisis. The big problem with working from home is finding the right balance between work and relaxation. This aspect gets a six, the lowest score in the entire survey. There is also room for improvement in collaboration with colleagues (6.6). The most frequently mentioned obstacle to working from home is problems with access to the WUR network. Skype and Microsoft Teams are used most often for meetings.

Interestingly, the crisis management and communication score poorly relative to the benchmark. The absolute score for management is 7.9, which is good, and communication also gets a respectable 7.7. But when compared to the national figures, WUR scores 0.75 lower for both aspects. Effectory calls this ‘a highly relevant difference’.