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Working at home is more stressful

home workers are under more pressure and struggle to find balance between their home and work life.

While it tends to bring better earnings and higher job freedom, a survey conducted by the Economic and Social Research Institute found drawbacks.

Researcher Dr Helen Russell said: "The perception is that flexible working, such as working from home, will help balance work and family life. But that's not the case."

Of the 5,000 employees surveyed, those who worked from home tended to find their job more stressful than those based in the workplace, she revealed.

"This could be because there may be a lack of boundary between home and work," Dr Russell said.

"Work may spill over into family life. The employee might feel too exhausted to do anything else at home. There can be very little separation living in the same place you work, so it may be difficult to switch off."

Some 31pc of those surveyed who work at home said they were stressed, compared with just 19.5pc of people who are not involved with homeworking.

The research also found that home workers tend to work longer hours. On average they worked 38 hours a week in 2009, compared with all other employees, who worked an average of 35 hours.

Dr Russell said: "Workers who commute to the workplace may have to sit in traffic but they at least get to switch off."

However, she pointed out that there is a trade-off for home workers as they tend to earn more money and have higher levels of autonomy.

"There is less supervision and more control over which tasks they undertake, for example," Dr Russell explained.



beneficial

Despite the down sides, the research found that home working, as well as other forms of flexible working including part-time hours and job shares, had increased in Ireland from the economic boom in 2003 to the bust in 2009.

In 2009, 12pc of employees surveyed worked from home, 9pc were job-sharing and 30pc worked flexible hours.

Dr Russell said: "Higher morale and happier employees will save businesses money in terms of staff retention and is also beneficial for productivity."

The research also found that equality practices in the workplace have improved, with 84pc of employees working under a formal equality policy in 2009.

hnews@herald.ie


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