Navigating the Unforeseen: Perceptions of Quality of Life While Working from Home in the United States During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Michelle Lee D’Abundo 1 * , Paul Franco 2, Deborah Deluca 2

AM J QUALITATIVE RES, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp. 204-221

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Social distancing requirements resulted in many people working from home in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic. The topic of working from home was often discussed in the media and online during the pandemic, but little was known about how quality of life (QOL) and remote working interfaced. The purpose of this study was to describe QOL while working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. The novel topic, unique methodological approach of the General Online Qualitative Study (D’Abundo & Franco, 2022a), and the strategic Social Distancing Sampling (D’Abundo & Franco, 2022c) resulted in significant participation throughout the world (n = 709). The United States subset of participants (n = 169) is the focus of this article. This big qual (Brower et al., 2019), large qualitative study (n >100) included the principal investigator-developed open-ended, online questionnaire entitled the “Quality of Life Home Workplace Questionnaire (QOLHWQ),” and demographic questions. Data were collected from July to September 2020 (during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic). Data analysis included open coding and categorical analysis resulting in the categories of positive, negative, both positive and negative, and neutral experiences with QOL while working from home. More participants cited increased QOL due to having more free time, less stress, and less commuting to work. The most cited issue associated with negative QOL was social isolation. As the post-peak era of the COVID-19 pandemic continues and the potential for future public health emergencies requiring social distancing exists, the findings from this study provide an important baseline understanding of remote working in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic. As working from home either full-time or part-time becomes more common, implications of this research are likely applicable beyond the era of the COVID-19 pandemic. To promote QOL and work-life balance for employees working remotely in the United States, stakeholders may want to develop social support networks and create effective planning initiatives to prevent social isolation and maximize the benefits of remote working experiences for both employees and organizations.

Keywords: Quality of life, general online qualitative study, working from home, quality of life home workplace questionnaire (QOLHWQ), social distancing sampling, qualitative research.