Conestoga news

February 9, 2021 2:00 PM

Grant will expand research into effects of working from home

Conestoga’s Canadian Institute for Safety, Wellness & Performance (CISWP) has received research funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) as part of the Knowledge Synthesis Grant Competition on Work and Skills in the Digital Economy.

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Conestoga’s Canadian Institute for Safety, Wellness & Performance has received research funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to conduct research on the effects of working from home.

Projects funded through the program support evidence-informed decision making and the application of best practices as well as assist in the development of future research programs.

As the only Canadian college to receive funding through this competition, Conestoga’s CISWP will use the grant to expand current knowledge on the impact of work-from-home (WFH) arrangements on personal and organizational performance and productivity.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared last March, more than five million Canadians have found themselves in a WFH arrangement -- a necessary measure to mitigate the potential transmission of COVID-19. In some sectors, remote work may become the new norm.

WFH has been associated with a host of challenges though including stress, boredom and long hours which can contribute to increased risk of adverse individual and organizational outcomes including anxiety, emotional distress and problems with task completion.

“To improve support for workers in response to the new challenges of WFH, it is essential to foster a broader understanding of the impact of WFH arrangements on workers and their organizations,” said Dr. Amin Yazdani, CISWP director, noting that recent studies have identified the need for formalized organizational policies, particularly for mandatory WFH arrangements, to support the health and well-being of employees.

“Organizational policies supporting the health of employees in WFH arrangements are traditionally considered human resources or health and safety matters, but unfortunately, restricted influence and resources in those areas make policies difficult to implement,” added Yazdani. “However, organizational and individual worker performance and productivity often receive more resources and attention from a business and managerial perspective. If we can align WFH with the business goals of organizations, we can help catalyze awareness from decision makers and more effectively implement WFH policies.”

Dr. Yazdani and CISWP research manager Dr. Marcus Yung, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Toronto and La Trobe University in Australia, will conduct a scoping review to identify the approaches that employers have adopted to implement remote work programs, the metrics used to evaluate success of these arrangements, and what implications WFH arrangements have on work-life balance. Dr. Amy Hackney, of CISWP, will act as a project manager on this initiative.

This work will help foster a broader understanding of the impact of WFH, generate awareness for decision makers within organizations and serve to effectively implement WFH policies to reduce adverse health impacts, while aligning with the business goals of the organizations.

CISWP has already initiated research in this area, launching a nationwide research study last year to examine the work-from-home impacts on the health and well-being of the Canadian workforce.

The Canadian Institute for Safety, Wellness & Performance, located within Conestoga’s School of Business, works to improve the safety, wellness and performance of the Canadian labour force by generating knowledge, transferring research to practice and strengthening workforce development - all in collaboration with stakeholders.

For more information about CISWP or the SSHRC project, contact Dr. Yazdani or Dr. Hackney.