Telecommuting Beats A Day At The Office

Yet another study is out showing the benefits of telecommuting. A group of professors from Brigham Young University tracked nearly 25,000 IBM workers around the world and found they were able to work far more hours with fewer complaints when they had some flexibility about where and when they did their work.

Telecommuters worked 57 hours per week before a quarter of them complained their jobs were impinging too much on their family and personal lives. Twenty-five percent of those stuck in the office all the time started griping about feeling all koyaanisqatsi — life out of balance — after just 38 hours.

That doesn't mean employers can squeeze more hours out of workers by letting them stay home more often, says E. Jeffrey Hill, an associate professor of family life at BYU and lead author of the study. It's about maintaining sanity for workers when many jobs are demanding much longer hours.

He says the underlying idea is that while some work is best done in an office setting, having the flexibility to choose when and where they do at least parts of their jobs allows workers to devote greater attention to tasks while they're "on," while carving out other time slots for other things.

"I did another research article in 2007 that showed when you're able to have dinner with your family, you're able to work longer hours without feeling conflict," Hill says.

"Really the key is the flexibility to choose the venue and also to choose the time chunk that you're going to be dedicating to work."

Interviewed this morning at 7 a.m. Utah time, Hill said, "I'm doing high-quality work because my family's all asleep."

The study will be published this month in the Journal of Family Psychology.

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