Professor takes part in BBC debate

Posted by rmt22 at Aug 09, 2019 01:10 PM |
Professor Stephen Wood participated in BBC World Service programme In the Balance series entitled “Does the Office have a future”.

Professor Stephen Wood from our School of Business was featured in a round table discussion on the BBC World Service programme in the balance. The debate focused on the question of remote working and the changing office environment. Given the national move towards more flexible workspaces and the University's Digital Campus strategy, the programme offered a chance to look at all sides of the argument from a technological and staff-wellbeing point of view.

Professor Wood said:

"There is conflicting evidence on the effects of the location of work on well-being; this reflects how location does not directly affect well-being directly. It affects well-being through influencing the factors that make for an ideal job, which are a challenging but not excessive demands, autonomy to make decisions and particularly to meet the demands, and a supportive environment. The evidence is that when it comes to their working environment what really matters to people is whether it helps them to do their jobs or, conversely, and this is the real problem, hinder them from doing them.

"My research has shown that flexible working arrangements, and especially homeworking, have a positive effect on well-being through increasing the autonomy and feelings of being supported by the organization that employees feel. Having thinking-time is especially valued. Flexible working may help people juggle their demands better or even cope with greater demands but this does not affect their well-being significantly.

"The increased autonomy may not, however, be enough to ensure well-being translates to high levels of engagement, as people need to be involved in the wider organisation but organisational involvement methods can ensure people have a sense of purpose and in so doing counter feelings of being isolated. The stereotypical open-plan office may have the opposite effects, with low levels of autonomy, a mixture of noise levels or interruptions that inhibit concentration, and health problems.

"Flexible working should be one part of an emerging more open working environment that consists of a mix of solo workplaces, meeting rooms, well-designed shared, team-based offices, hot-desking, quiet zones, reading rooms, computer hub centres, and homeworking. The aim should be to achieve a balance between the need for silence and individual thinking time and the bustle of collaborative working."

You can listen to the debate online now.

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