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Purpose & Goals: The purpose of this study was to explore and understand employee perceptions of remote work as a potential option for normal operations, based on experiences from the COVID-19 pandemic. The goals were to obtain feedback from library faculty and staff about remote work and telecommuting in order to develop a guideline, and to measure satisfaction with the hybrid work environment several months after the guideline was implemented.
Design & Methodology: Two web-based surveys were sent to all library faculty and staff, one in April 2021 and the other in March 2022. The first survey included multiple-choice and free-text responses regarding how often employees wanted to work remotely; what tasks they believed could be done productively from home; what equipment they needed at home; and what challenges they believed the library faced with employees working remotely. This feedback was used to develop a remote work and telecommuting guideline that was implemented in July 2021. The second survey assessed employees’ experience with telecommuting or remote work since the guideline was implemented, including questions about schedules, satisfaction, equity, what worked better than expected, and continuing challenges. Both surveys were declared minimal risk by our institutional IRB.
Findings: The second survey showed satisfaction with the hybrid work environment, including a high degree of satisfaction with how telecommuting schedules were implemented and allocated within library units. The average amount of time employees spent working from home closely mirrored how much time they responded that they wanted to spend in the first survey. Significant challenges to implementing a hybrid work environment identified in the first survey had been resolved, while other challenges had arisen or continued in the months since the guideline was implemented and the library had resumed normal operations.
Practical Implications & Value: Librarians responsible for assessment within their libraries should look for assessment and research opportunities related to the administrative operations of their organizations. When integrated at the beginning of a major operational change, these studies can provide valuable data that help inform needed adjustments after the change has been implemented and, longitudinally, as operations are continually evaluated. While libraries’ administrative operations can vary greatly, sharing these studies can provide useful insight to other organizations looking to implement similar changes.
Association of Research Libraries Assessment Conference
remote work, telecommuting, hybrid work environment, assessment, library operations, change management
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Bowler-Hill, Sally. "The Importance of Library Assessment in HR: A Case Study of Transitioning to a Hybrid Work Environment after the COVID-19 Pandemic." (2022). https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/hslic-posters-presentations/108