If you're "Out of office", you're happier: study

By Bill Bennett, November 18 2010
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People who telecommute for most of their work are happier and more satisfied than people who spend most of their time in an office, a study has shown.

Researchers Kathryn Fonner of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Michael Roloff of Northwestern University say telecommuters avoid the distractions and stresses of a conventional workplace. This means they have less work-life conflict.

The benefits of telework are well documented, especially for accommodating family life, but the researchers say things really take off when workers spend at least three days a week away from the office.

According to workers surveyed by the researchers, alienation, which is often named as the main disadvantage faced by telecommuters, is not a problem. People who work from home may exchange information with co-workers less frequently, but both groups have similar access to work-related information.

On the other hand, teleworkers are less bothered by office politics, interruptions and constant meetings. In other words, remote working imposes fewer stresses.

Fonner said: "With lower stress and fewer distractions, employees can prevent work from seeping into their personal lives."

While employers could offer workers more opportunities to telework, this isn’t always practical, so Fonner offers advice to bosses wanting to make cubical-bound workers as happy as their remote counterparts:

  • Limit meetings and mass emails.
  • Encourage employees to disconnect from workplace communication at the end of the working day.
  • Give office workers time and spaces where they can work uninterrupted.
  • Create a central repository of information which can be accessed by anyone at any time.

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