As you read this very post, you may be sitting at home, one of the small but growing percentage of individuals around the world who work from home. Or perhaps you some work from home and other days you go to the office. Whatever the arrangement, is it a well known trend with a mix of benefits and long term questions, as more businesses and workers invest in the concept of what is sometimes called telework. Frequently updated research looks into aspects such as cost/benefit and productivity. Another area of importance is naturally the level satisfaction individuals get from working from home vs working at the office or doing a bit of both. Which is the most satisfying and why? That is the question Dan Wheatley of Nottingham Trent University took on in his recent article “Good to be home? Time-use and satisfaction levels among home-based teleworkers.”
I’ll skip past the teasing and get right to the results – from among these three groups, home workers report the highest amount of satisfaction with their work-life balance. But that result also comes with several caveats that may be familiar to you work at home parents, beginning with the blurring of work and leisure time. Many people who work at home are reported to actually work longer hours, though perhaps they don’t mind as much as compared to working longer hours from the office. According to the Wheatley article this is also a significant difference in the work at home experience for women and men. Women are said to suffer from greater pressure in balancing work and household activities, whereas men are said to contribute significantly less when it comes to housework. A sad (and hopefully not completely accurate) picture that seems to say many of those old-fashioned gender stereotypes where men don’t do housework still prevail. Still, when it comes to paid work, both men and women who work at home report a greater satisfaction over their in-office or part-time-in-office counterparts.
Is working from home the future? For many early adopters, it is very much the present. But yes, there are the side-effects that in many ways comes with being the first few generations of teleworkers. In the future, with the help of research as well as learning from past mistakes, good strategies for keeping the work-leisure balance in tact will be better understood. You can bet that 50 years from now people will laugh when they read about debates as to weather or not working from home is a good and healthy thing to do.
Photo: citrixonline / flickr
Reference: Wheatley, D. (2012). Good to be home? Time-use and satisfaction levels among home-based teleworkers New Technology, Work and Employment, 27 (3), 224-241 DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-005X.2012.00289.x