By Ahmed Mohamed

Government legislation enacted during COVID-19 constricted business to work remotely and students to learn from home. Such widespread restrictions on human activity stimulated an increase in scholarly research in the social sciences. Research productivity increased by 35% in the United States within 10 weeks of the start of COVID-19 lockdowns (Cui, Ding, and Zhu, 2020).  

Still, little is being done to understand why regular engagement in physical activities declined for some and continued for others. We ground this qualitative research on conservation of resources theory (especially personal resources: cognitive, physical and affective) to determine whether previous experience in teleworking and personal and organizational resources might have motivated people to continue to engage in physical activities while working from home. Indeed, the unprecedented conditions of COVID-19 require people to utilize their personal resources as efficiently as possible to satisfy job and physical and mental health demands. Our research answer two questions. 

First, does physical activity pre-pandemic provide non-experienced telecommuters with more resources and better work performance during pandemic? The second question asks, what specific factors motivate them to engage in physical activities during the pandemic? We interviewed 20 faculty and staff at York University in Canada. Participants who perceived physical activity as an intrinsic value before the pandemic practised physical activity during the pandemic, maintained their personal resources and coped with the pandemic demands. However, participants who are intrinsically motivated to practice physical activity, because of its known benefits from pre-pandemic experience, were less engaged in physical activities and lost personal resources due to family and work demands experienced during the pandemic.  

We conclude that physical activity is indirectly predicting work performance through the mediation role of personal resources. We recommend extending this study to cover gender, financial stability and culture in two contrasting contexts, during and post-COVID-19. 

Ahmed Mohamedis a Queen’s University business graduate, holding a Master of International Business degree with over 10 years of international experience in the business industry. Throughout his career, Mohamed helped multinational corporations in client servicing, sales, marketing and human resources. Mohamed is passionate about academic research, assisting professors and the research community in various research areas related to human resource management. Additionally, presenting research topics at different conferences and finding solutions to industry challenges is where Mohamed sees himself growing and developing. Currently, Mohamed is a third-year PhD candidate in Human Resource Management at York University. 


Cui, R., Ding, H., & Zhu, F. (2020). Gender inequality in research productivity during the COVID-19 pandemic. arXiv preprint arXiv:2006.10194.