Vitality

Working From Home Is Most Effective In Moderation: Here's How To Discuss It With Your Boss, According To Psychology

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Working from home can be beneficial to both employee and employer, but only if done in moderation and with specific implementation in mind. Pixabay, public domain

It’s the 21st century and work policies are continuously changing to improve employees’ quality of life and work-life balance. Whether that means free membership to a gym or work-from-home options, more and more employees are given benefits to boost their morale, productivity, and dedication to the company.

Working from home, or telecommuting, has always remained debatable, however. While some employers fear their workers will be less productive at home, recent research shows the opposite: that working from home made employees more likely to go above and beyond and help other employees; they were also happier with their jobs. One new study, completed by a collaborating team of researchers, finds that working from home is most effective when it’s done in moderation — and when it’s carefully implemented to keep both the interests of the company and employee in mind.

“Our intent is to provide a balanced picture of what we know and do not know based on the scientific findings,” the authors wrote. “This sort of comprehensive view is essential to aiding individuals, organizations, and public policy-makers in shaping telecommuting practices.” They wanted to provide a “blueprint” of sorts to aid employers in “minimizing its drawbacks and understanding the nuances of what makes their telecommuting programs succeed or fail.”

The researchers reviewed past studies on the efficacy of telecommuting, and they found it was overall beneficial to both employees and the workplace: Working from home was associated with more job satisfaction, less stress, and even better job performance. But it’s at its most effective state when it’s done to a “moderate degree,” the authors stated, as “[f]ace-to-face time may be particularly important at the start of new projects.”

Of course, many factors must go into consideration. If you’re looking to discuss working from home with your boss, make sure you first consider your schedule — will you be able to complete the same amount of work at home as you do in the office, fitting perfectly in your regular schedule? If your job entails more face-to-face interactions with customers, other employees, or in meetings, working from home once a week may be more effective than doing it every day — compared to someone who never interacts with other people in the office. It also depends a lot on your level of comfort when it comes to focusing; some people concentrate better in the office, and if that’s the case, telecommuting in moderation is key.

“Implementing an effective telecommuting plan can help organizations recruit top talent and create a more diverse work force,” the authors note. “And it can also give organizations an advantage in emergency situations, allowing employees to work when public transportation or power outages would otherwise prevent commuting. Telecommuting can be part of an organization’s strategic way of doing business.”

Source: Allen T, Golden T, Shockley K. How Effective Is Telecommuting? Assessing the Status of Our Scientific Findings. Psychological Science in the Public Interest. 2015.

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