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Dr. Paola Belingheri reflects on Working from Home

Reflections on Working from Home

By Paola Belingheri

 

During this period, may of us find ourselves suddenly working from home, possibly together with other family members, including children. While this experience takes some getting used to and brings several challenges, it may also be an opportunity to experiment more flexible working hours and more quality time for oneself or with others.

Finally it may also be a prelude, once this period is over, to firms increasingly accepting teleworking (also called telecommuting) and flexible working options for their employees who wish to spend less time physically at the office.

What does research say about tele-working? What are the advantages and disadvantages of this form of work? And what are the best tips to be effective in a tele-working situation?

Here is a round-up of some interesting sources:

Research has shown that especially for women, tele-working is a tool that is increasingly adopted to allow achieving work-life balance with the goal of minimising the conflicts between these two aspects through flexible working hours.

Often, tele-working comes about because of informal arrangements, usually verbal agreements between the employee and the supervisor that occasionally enable them to work from home. More formal arrangements, which are less common, foresee regular hours or days per week devoted to working from home.

Regarding job satisfaction, research shows that women (and men) who have access to informal or formal tele-working arrangements report a higher level of job satisfaction than those who don’t. Formal arrangements, usually involving more hours at home, are those that bring about the highest amount of job satisfaction.

On the flip side of the coin, working from home is reportedly less efficient than working from an office setting, due to home work intruding on office work. As teleworking “overtime” often isn’t recognised and much less paid, overall the hourly wages result lower the more percentage of working time is spent in teleworking. Moreover, from a social point of view, teleworking can be lonely and less motivating, as well as causing lower self-esteem, as interaction with and feedback from colleagues is more sparce.

An external factor influencing the success of teleworking is the employer’s culture and values. A company culture that is “supportive of employees’ family and personal situations, and promotes fliexibility, tolerance and support for family needs and obligations” (Van der Lippe & Lippenyi, 2008), which implies that employees’ value and dedication isn’t measured based on the hours they can be seen working at the company’s premises, will result in a higher motivation and success of employees on teleworking.

Many articles abound with tips on how to successfully telework. The most-cited tips include:

1) Develop support networks with colleagues;

2) Set personal targets for the completion of work;

3) Make appointments to socialise with friends or relatives (in this case online);

4) Create a dedicated space for working, preferably physically separate from where you relax. If this isn’t possible, use props such as headphones to signal that you are in working mode;

5) Develop daily and/or weekly work timetables or schedules;

Do you want to share your teleworking experiences and tips with your fellow WIA-E members? Please write to research@wia-europe.org and we will publish them on the website.

References

Crosbie, T., & Moore, J. (2004). Work‚Äďlife balance and working from home. Social Policy and Society, 3(3), 223-233.
Dockery, A. M., & Bawa, S. (2014). Is working from home good work or bad work? Evidence from Australian employees. Australian Journal of Labour Economics, 17(2), 163.

Troup, C., & Rose, J. (2012). Working from home: Do formal or informal telework arrangements provide better work‚Äďfamily outcomes?. Community, Work & Family, 15(4), 471-486.

Van der Lippe, T., & Lipp√©nyi, Z. (2018). Beyond formal access: Organizational context, working from home, and work‚Äďfamily conflict of men and women in European workplaces. Social Indicators Research, 1-20.

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