Working from home and subjective wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic: The role of pre-COVID-19 commuting distance and mode choices

Yinhua Tao*, Ana Petrović, Maarten van Ham

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
43 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Working from home (WFH) was prevalent among previous daily commuters during the COVID-19 pandemic and is expected to continue in post-COVID-19 society. By using WFH enforced by the UK government during the pandemic as a real-world experiment, our study investigates the relationship between switching from commuting to WFH, and subjective wellbeing (SWB). Particular interest lies in determining the extent to which this relationship depends on homeworkers' commuting behaviours prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. The data we used is from a COVID-19 panel survey on UK workers who were born in 1970. Results from the between-individual analysis and fixed-effect analysis show that the transition to WFH was not indicative of life satisfaction but it was conducive to affective wellbeing in the short term. This positive effect on affective wellbeing became insignificant after specific experiences of WFH were taken into account; that is, positive homeworking experiences were a result of strong social support, healthy daily lifestyles and stable financial circumstances during the pandemic. Crucially, the impact of switching to WFH on SWB was moderated by the pre-pandemic commuting behaviour. Previous long-distance commuters (one-way commuting distance >30 miles) reported better affective wellbeing when they could work from home, while commuters who had frequently walked or cycled to work had worse SWB outcomes after switching to WFH.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103690
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Transport Geography
Volume112
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Keywords

  • Active travel
  • Coronavirus
  • Longitudinal designs
  • Subjective well-being
  • Telecommuting
  • The UK

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