Homeworking eases stress levels but leads to fear of being overlooked

Working from home reduces stress in office workers, but leads to fears about career progression, according to research.

A survey of 749 staff in managerial or professional positions conducted by Durham Business School showed that homeworkers worried about missing-out on ‘water-cooler networking’ – where potential opportunities for moving up the ladder are discussed informally in the office.

Despite these concerns, the study also found that working from home generally had a positive effect on an employee’s work-life balance, giving them more time with the family and leading to less stress and less chance of burnout.

Four in 10 respondents who worked more than 20 hours per week at home reported feeling a great deal of stress because of their job compared with 65% of employees who worked solely in the office.

Tom Redman, professor of HR management, said there were concerns from respondents about a lack of face-time in an organisation.

“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,” he said.

Nick Dines, head of communications at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “With advances in technology homeworking is now a realistic option for many people. Where it is possible for companies to do so, managers should consider the option for their employees as part of a sensible flexible working programme.”

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