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Home workers stamp on stress but fear being ‘overlooked’

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Working from home reduces stress but leads to fears about career progression.

New research, led by Durham Business School, Durham University, showed that home workers worried about missing-out on ‘water-cooler networking’ – where potential opportunities for moving up the ladder are discussed informally in the office.

The study also found, however, that working from home generally had a positive effect on an employee’s work-life balance, giving them more time with family and leading to less stress and burnout.

In addition, 43% of respondents who worked more than 20 hours per week at home reported feeling a great deal of stress because of their job, compared to 65 per cent of employees who worked solely in the office.

Tom Redman, professor of human resource management, Durham Business School, said: “There were worries from those we surveyed about a lack of face-time in an organisation – simply because their face wasn’t there to be seen.

“It seems at least for managerial and professional employees in knowledge-based industries that working from home is an antidote to the stresses of office-based working, but this may be at the expense of lower levels of support for career development.”

Redman added: “Employers were worried that staff who worked from home would not be as committed to those extra duties where employees go above and beyond the call of duty for their company.

“However we found that working from home did not undermine this behaviour and the interesting challenge for the future is to see how staff can become corporate citizens electronically.”

The responses of 749 staff in managerial or professional positions in British-based knowledge-intensive industries such as consulting, media, and financial services formed the research.

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Annie Hayes

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