working remotely
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Fancy working remotely? It could make you more stressed

22 Feb 2017

How much do you wish you were working from home right now? Well, it might not be as good as you think.

Employees who are cooped up in the office all day, or getting drenched daily during the commute to work, might dream of working remotely.

You probably spent this morning stuck in traffic dreaming about how much nicer it would be if you didn’t have to drive anywhere to do your work.

Future Human

While there are plenty of benefits to working from home, and working remotely is becoming more common, it’s not all rosy in the garden.

More stress, less sleep

A new study from the United Nations International Labour Organisation showed that working remotely can lead to more stress and insomnia than going to the office.

Based on 15 countries, the study found that employees who worked outside of the office were more productive than their office-bound counterparts.

However, those who were working remotely were more likely to work longer hours, work more intensely and struggle to achieve a work-life balance.

The remote workers were separated into those who worked from home, mobile workers constantly working from different locations and those who split their time between the office and another site.

In all three groups, employees reported higher levels of stress and more instances of insomnia than their office-based colleagues.

41pc of highly mobile employees said they felt some level of stress, much higher than the 25pc of office workers. Furthermore, 42pc of people who work from home or other locations reported suffering from insomnia, 13pc more than those who worked on site.

Work-life balance has become a hot topic, with much discussion around giving employees more flexible hours or allowing them to work from home.

But with a lack of face-to-face time with colleagues, a feeling of obligation that keeps remote employees working longer and the inevitability of work life bleeding into home life, it would appear that the grass is not always greener.

Finding the sweet spot

Co-author of the study Jon Messenger said letting staff work remotely some of the time as opposed to all of the time is the best solution.

“Two to three days working from home seems to be that sweet spot”, he said.

This will become more important for the future of work as more employees cut down on office time.

Performance management consultancy company Gallup released a survey last week that showed more American employees are working away from the office, and those employees are working for longer.

In 2012, Gallup’s data showed that 39pc of employees were working remotely in some capacity. In 2016, that number grew to 43pc.

Additionally, almost a third of those who spent between 80pc and 100pc of their time working remotely spent more time working in 2016, compared to less than a quarter in 2013.

With more employees and companies gravitating towards working remotely, employers and employees need to find a balance to ensure that the seemingly relaxed work attitude doesn’t stress employees out more in the long run.

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Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the deputy editor of Silicon Republic in 2020, having worked as the careers editor until June 2019. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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