Workers with existing “conflict” between their work and home roles tended to end the day much more tired than those who made sure there was a clear separation of the two.

Working from home might be touted as the solution for those seeking ‘work-life balance’, but a study indicates it leaves many exhasted trying to juggle both at the same time. An American academic, Professor Timothy Golden, said the experience often proved counter-productive, with home-workers caught between the demands of the office and the demands of family life.


He studied 316 so-called “tele-workers”, employed by a large computer company, and asked them a series of questions about the stresses of their working day, and whether they impinged on life outside work too.

Among the questions he asked were whether family responsibilities interfered with work responsibilities, and if the stress of those family commitments made it difficult to concentrate on the job at hand.

He also asked how much work impinged on familiy activities, both due to the volume of work and the stress of it.

He looked both at those who worked “traditional” office hours and those who were able to set their own hours – often meaning, for example, they work late into the evening to enable them to look after children in the day.

Prof Golden, of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, found those with existing “conflict” between their work and home roles tended to end the day much more tired than those who made sure there was a clear separation of the two.

He said: “Whereas individuals may adopt telework as a means to enhance their quality of life and reduce exhaustion, those with low levels of conflict between work and family seem able to benefit more from telework than are those individuals who have high levels of conflict between their work and home.”

Whether participants worked “traditional” or “non-traditional” hours made little difference: “These results occurred for individuals who teleworked during either regular work hours or during the evenings and weekends.”

Professor Golden’s study is published online in the Journal of Business and Psychology.

Teleworking is on the increase in Britain, thanks to the widespread availability of broadband internet connections.

Part of the reason for the rise is that companies want to give their employees more flexibility over their working days.

There are also growing numbers of self-employed people with their own small offices, located in spare rooms or garden sheds.

Mandy Garner, editor of, said home-workers had to be carefult to avoid “burn-out”.

She said: “It’s a big issue. When you are working from home, others including your family tend to think that you are available to do all the domestic chores.

“I think what you have to do to avoid complete burn-out is to be vey firm about working hours, and have a clear demarcation between work time and home time.

“It’s also good to have a separate area where you work, and a separate phone line if you can afford it.”

Sheds were very popular because they enabled physical separation between the two, and an outside space that was harder for partners and children to bridge.

She added some people went to extraordinary lengths to ensure they were ready for a day of home-working.

“Some people do things like get dressed for work, and then walk around the block and back again, to mentally prepare themselves for the working day,” she said.

But Ms Garner, who herself works from home, admitted: “I don’t always follow my own advice.”

Photo credit: How To

Via Telegraph