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Is Working From Home All It's Cracked Up To Be?

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Is Working From Home All It's Cracked Up To Be?

With the growing trend of work-from-home and remote workers, this study examines the way that remote working affects well-being.

· Agile Zone ·
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Working from home has seldom been more popular, with a number of studies highlighting its potential for boosting not only our health and well-being but also our productivity. It's tempting to believe that the debate has largely been run, and no further discussion is needed, but a recent study from Baylor University suggests we should not get too carried away.

The study examines the impact remote work has on the wellbeing of employees, before recommending a number of strategies to help managers better manage remote work opportunities that benefit both employer and employee alike.

"Any organization, regardless of the extent to which people work remotely, needs to consider the well-being of their employees as they implement more flexible working practices," the authors say.

Remote Workers

The researchers quizzed several hundred working adults to determine things such as their level of autonomy, physical and mental stress levels, and emotional stability.

The analysis found that autonomy was crucial to the well-being of remote workers, with those who were the most emotionally stable and most able to function with this level of autonomy best suited to such work. When high levels of job autonomy were paired with low emotional stability, however, stress tended to result.

The authors believe their work is important in confounding the perception that autonomy is a gift that benefits all of us, and they hope that this added nuance will help managers better allocate remote work to those best suited for it.

"This lower need for autonomy may explain why less emotionally stable employees don't do as well when working remotely, even when they have autonomy," they explain.

Smarter Management

In addition, the team came up with a number of practical recommendations for managers to make use of this new knowledge. As you might expect, the core of the advice revolved around understanding the personality of each employee, and using this to determine whether they are well suited to remote working.

"I would suggest managers look at employee behaviors, rather than for personality traits, per se," the authors say. "For example, if someone does not handle stress well in the office, they are not likely to handle it well at home either. If someone gets overwhelmed easily, or reacts in big ways to requests or issues in the office, they are likely less well positioned to work remotely and handle that responsibility and stress."

Suffice to say, it's not always possible to ensure that the most emotionally stable are those who work remotely, so if this isn't the case, the authors advocate devoting extra time and attention to ensure that these people have support in building strong relationships with colleagues to avoid excessive stress.

It might also be sensible to provide specific training and equipment to support those working remotely. For instance, advice on clearly separating work and family spaces or procedural and performance related expectations, whilst also ensuring regular face-to-face contact with both colleagues and managers.

Remote working can be hugely beneficial, but it's increasingly clear that it's not the case in every situation, and certainly not a case of handing it out willy-nilly and hoping for the best. This study provides a valuable degree of insight into who copes best with it, and who needs additional support. Hopefully, it's a message that managers take on board.

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Topics:
stress ,productivity ,future of work ,remote work ,agile

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