While there might be a number of advantages to working from home, putting in fewer hours than your peers is not one of them, new research shows.
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A University of Texas at Austin study found that telecommuters work between five and seven more hours each week than those who work exclusively in an office. The research discovered that those who work from home are significantly less likely to work a standard 40-hour schedule and are more prone to working overtime.
The research, based on data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 panel and the U.S. Census Bureau's Current Population Survey, shows that telecommuting causes work to seep into an employee's home life. The study points to a 2008 Pew Networked Workers survey that revealed employees use technology, especially email, to perform work tasks even when sick or on vacation.
"Careful monitoring of this blurred boundary between work and home time and the erosion of 'normal working hours' in many professions can help us understand the expansion of work hours overall among salaried workers," said Jennifer Glass, the study's co-author and a University of Texas professor.
Despite popular belief, parents trying to balance work and family needs aren't the employees most likely to work from home. The research found that parents with dependent children are no more likely to work from home than the population as a whole. It's employees with authority and status, who have more control of their work schedules, that are most likely to have the option to work remotely.
Based on the study, the researchers concluded that telecommuting is not very helpful in reducing work-family conflicts and instead appears to have allowed employers to impose longer workweeks.
The study, co-authored by University of Iowa associate professor Mary Noonan, was recently published in the Monthly Labor Review journal.