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Home Working Issues

No Water Cooler

If you work at home, you have less work-related stress, but may be fearful about your ability to advance in your career, according to Tom Redman, Professor of Human Resource Management, Durham Business School, who presented his research at the British Institute of Facilities Management conference, at Keble College, Oxford in March of 2008. It seems that those who work from home are worried about missing out on networking around the water cooler. After all, the cooler is the place where one is liable to hear the office gossip that could end up making or breaking a career. If you're at home, you're going to miss out on that important kind of office talk, so how are you going to get ahead?

Less Stress

In spite of missing out on certain career opportunities, those who work from home find they have a terrific balance going on between life and work, with more time for their families. Home workers are less prone to work related stress and burnout. Only 43% of those who worked for over 20 hours per week from home reported experiencing a great deal of work related stress as opposed to 65% of those who only worked at the office.

The Redman team looked at the responses of 749 participants in both managerial and professional positions dealing with knowledge and data, for instance for firms specializing in financial services, media, and consulting. "There were worries from those we surveyed about a lack of face-time in an organization—simply because their face wasn't there to be seen. It seems at least for managerial and professional employees in knowledge-based industries that working from home is an antidote to the stresses of office-based working, but this may be at the expense of lower levels of support for career development," said Prof. Redman.

While Redman found that employers had a concern that staff working from home would have less of a commitment to office duties, it turned out that the respondents felt a near equal responsibility to their employers. When asked if they agreed or disagreed with the following statement, "I really feel as if this organization's problems are my own," 69% of the home-based workers agreed with the statement as compared to 67% of those who worked from the office.

Redman feels that based on the results of his team's work, the challenge that remains is to find a way to include home-working staff as corporate citizens and suggests that the best way to do this is via email and the internet.


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