Telework could cause employee exhaustion

Monday - 11/14/2011, 11:54am EST

By Julia Ziegler
Federal News Radio

Employees with high levels of work-family conflict can be negatively impacted by telework, according to a new study.

"Individuals who telework more extensively experience more constant physical reminders of the conflict between work and family due to their greater presence in the home," said study author Timothy Golden of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. "These serve as a continual irritant preventing psychological detachment and subsequent recovery, leading to higher levels of exhaustion."

This increased exhaustion can mean higher rates of absenteeism, turnover, illness and lower job performance, according to Golden.

Golden defines work-family conflict as stress that occurs when an employee's work interferes with his or her family life.

Golden's study found teleworkers with a higher level of work-family conflict suffered from more exhaustion, whereas those with less work-family stress benefited from telework. Golden found this to be true for employees who telework during traditional work hours (9 a.m. - 5 p.m.) and those who worked from home outside of those hours.

Golden said managers may need to be cognizant of their employees home lives if telework is to work as intended.

316 people from a large computer company participated in Golden's study. The results can be found in the Journal of Business and Psychology.