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Working from home may lead to burnout or exhaustion, especially if a person has issues balancing the demands of a job with a family, according to an analysis in the Journal of Business Psychology.
Although the idea of "teleworking" may conjure up images of sitting in your pajamas with coffee in hand, research suggests it's a difficult balancing act for people struggling to meet the demands of a job and family.
The study's author, Timothy Golden, adds that telework isn't just working from home during traditional hours; it's also plugging away at tasks during the evening and weekends, too. In a way, non-traditional telework puts people in a place where their personal time may be overrun by their jobs.
By surveying 316 people who worked traditional hours for a large computer company, Golden asked participants to answer whether they agree with certain statements, including "Due to all the pressures at work, sometimes when I am home I am too stressed to do the things I enjoy" and "Because I am often stressed from family responsibilities, I have a hard time concentrating on my work."
Most respondents were male, and 88 percent had children. He also measured peoples' levels of work exhaustion.
He found that respondents with higher time and strain-based conflicts between work and family also showed higher rates of exhaustion from teleworking. Previous studies showed that these types of conflict were physically and emotionally draining, which affect people's abilities to cope with feeling overwhelmed. As a result, people experience burnout and do not perform their jobs as well — or they may even be calling in sick more often.
Golden thinks managers should look more closely at their telework programs to ensure employees' work environments aren't negatively affecting their mental health. Telework programs can be beneficial if done right, though.
Many people reap the benefits of not commuting as well as having a space for work they feel comfortable in, Golden writes. Overall, it's key to keep work and family separate from each other.