In times of uncertainty, a little evidence goes a long way.
For Professor Jarrod Haar - Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Mahuta (Management) - the COVID-19 crisis has presented not only the chance to work from home and avoid a daily two-hour commute, it’s been an opportunity to examine and share findings about the impact of the pandemic on Kiwi workers, employers, people leaders and organisations.
Almost overnight, lockdown v.1 turned office-based teams into remote workers, who were suddenly confronted with the pleasures and pains of work from home (WFH). Fortuitously, Professor Haar had already begun a nationwide survey of Kiwi workplaces. Before the global pandemic, he intended to study work experiences (including leadership styles) and employee work and wellbeing outcomes (e.g., work engagement, work-life balance) among a number of cohorts.
When WFH became a reality across much of New Zealand, Professor Haar made a crucial decision. Rather than continue along his original paths of investigation, he would pivot his analysis to ensure the findings responded to and reflected the real-world crisis in which we suddenly found ourselves.
The cohorts he studied included 600 employees across Alert levels 4 and 3, and 1000 employees across Alert levels 3 and 2. These were largely representative samples (e.g., 50% female, wide age range, wide ethnicity range).
The response to his work highlights the world-wide hunger for research-backed information in the midst of speculation and misinformation. Media have been quick to shine their spotlights on Professor Haar’s findings, which throughout the crisis have examined a wide range of issues in and beyond the traditional ways of work.
“Part of the joys of being an academic is the need to stay curious and remain open to all kinds of research possibilities – from trying new methodologies and changing research parameters, to changing investigation tack and exploring answers to questions not previously considered,” says Professor Haar. “These approaches have meant I could deliver sound and impactful findings based not only on real people and real experiences, but also virtually in real time. Indeed, putting information out in the public domain ahead of journal submissions was a conscious decision due to Covid-19”.