Across the country and across the world, many people are being afforded the ability to work from home, at least on occasion. Government employees are being given more and more flexibility along with their contractor counterparts. The mobile environment provides the worker the freedom to “work from the couch” or the local cafe or from their mid-sized sedan. The work still gets accomplished and the bosses are still happy. So, why then is the Journal of Business and Psychology releasing a study about telework being “bad”?
I mention this topic specifically because I have ALWAYS had the ability to work from home. While with DCAA, I was teleworking one day a week and on a flexible schedule that gave me every other Friday off (3 days per pay period of saving me from a 1-hour-and-30-minute commute). Then, as a Director of Finance, I was issued a laptop and since we were a startup, I was given the ability to work from home on occasion also. Into my internal audit career and beyond until today where I come to you live from my home office – 5 days a week. According to the study published last week:
“Individuals who telework more extensively experience more constant physical reminders of the conflict between work and family due to their greater presence in the home,” said study author Timothy Golden of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. “These serve as a continual irritant preventing psychological detachment and subsequent recovery, leading to higher levels of exhaustion.” This increased exhaustion can mean higher rates of absenteeism, turnover, illness and lower job performance, according to Golden. He defines work-family conflict as stress that occurs when an employee’s work interferes with his or her family life.
Golden’s study found teleworkers with a higher level of work-family conflict suffered from more exhaustion, whereas those with less work-family stress benefited from telework. Golden found this to be true for employees who telework during traditional work hours (9 a.m. – 5 p.m.) and those who worked from home outside of those hours.
From what I can see, it appears the study found out that if your environment is stressful, you won’t be as productive. That seems to hold true regardless of teleworking or office-bound. Ever had one of those offices where you KNEW you could get more work done if it weren’t for that one guy (or gal) that annoyed you? Apparently, if you can avoid that environment, you will be a better worker – SURPRISE!
Sometimes, I just don’t get studies about things that we already knew that we tie a new and shiny reason on a problem that exists. If you have the chance – work from home – what a great way to spend the day.