Consequences of the work-from-home mandate at Italian universities


The pandemic forced a reorganisation of work. With researchers and teachers working from home, many universities found themselves facing new challenges. As did their staff. The results from a large online survey study from members of the MINDtheGEPs team at University of Turin reveals the realities of 6 000+ people working at Italian universities forced to work from home during the pandemic, and the real-life consequences of the pandemic on work in the academy. 

Chiara Ghislieri
Chiara Ghislieri, University of Turin

“Workaholism, emotional exhaustion, and conflicts between work and family responsibilities were reported by both researchers and technical and administrative staff. Women to a larger extent than men. Having these results, which have been systematically collected, is an important reference for developing policies and interventions. Because where there is no data, we cannot visualise the problem, and as a result there is no policy,” says Chiara Ghislieri, associate professor in work and organisational psychology at the University of Turin and one of the authors of the Social Sciences paper.

2 365 researchers and 4 086 technical and administrative staff at universities across Italy answered a University of Turin survey about their working conditions during the second lockdown of the Covid-19 pandemic. The study unveiled differences between the challenges experienced by academics and the administrative staff, as well as between people with different roles within these groups. For example, researchers with fixed-term employments and associate professors reported that the work-from-home mandate interfered with their career progress.

Rosy Musumeci
Rosy Musumeci, University of Turin

“Putting a stop to research, teaching, and public engagement activities, as well as the everyday institutional operations, also means putting a stop to opportunities to merit oneself for a possible future promotion. It is important to keep in mind that it is also in these positions we find women and men who might have care responsibilities outside of work. With aging parents, and young children at home, work-life balance is important. But not necessarily something that can be achieved while under a work-from-home mandate in a global pandemic,” says Rosy Musumeci, assistant professor at the Department of Cultures, Politics and Society at the University of Turin and another author of the paper.

The results suggest the need to account for people’s tasks and responsibilities when developing policies. And the authors stress the need to adapt policies to the context of the organisation, especially when the goal is defining action plans to promote well-being and gender equality in the workplace.

By Anna Holm

Ghislieri C, Sanseverino D, Addabbo T, Bochicchio V, Musumeci R, Picardi I, Tomio P, Guidetti G & Converso D, The Show Must Go On: A Snapshot of Italian Academic Working Life during Mandatory Work from Home through the Results of a National Survey, Social Sciences, 2022: 11(3); 111. DOI: 10.3390/socsci11030111

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Last modified: 2023-08-25