Study: Telecommuting increases stress for working parents

Telecommuting has gained traction with companies that have decided that cost savings for both employers and employees outweighs whatever questions may linger about the productivity or availability of telecommuting employees.

Telecommuting study

Telecommuters who are also parents may suffer higher burnout rates, a study says.

But, even as telecommuting becomes more popular the questions and reassessments linger. The latest blow to the trend comes from the Lally School of Management and Technology at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, which conducted a study whose results suggest telecommuting actually increase stress levels for working parents. The study was highlighted in the Journal of Business and Psychology.

The study, which surveyed only 316 employees at a single company, concluded that telecommuting employees who are also working parents appear to suffer a higher risk of burnout because job and family are located in the same place, and you can't really get through the workday without being reminded of your role at home.

This all sounds pretty obvious. An experienced telecommuter might tell you that you absolutely have to establish a dedicated office space in your home if you want to be productive--not the couch in the living room, but a room with no TV where you can actually go and close the door for at least a few hours at a time.

The other thing, which the study points out, is that some working parents may choose telecommuting because they think it can help them cut back on day care costs for their children. That seems like a recipe for disaster, and it's hard to believe that any employee would still be making that assumpton, and that any employer would still be foolish enough to let it happen.

Other questions that have surfaced recently about telecommuting: Does it make you more visible to the layoff ax, and less likely to earn a promotion? Is telecommuting better for your health?

Maybe it's time for a massive global study--not focused on just a few hundred employees at one firm--that looks into all of these questions.

For more:
- check out this GigaOM post
- see this IT World post about visibility
- read this Daily Mail report on commuter health

Related articles:
Telecommuting has yet to catch on with mid-market firms
Teleworking has been a hot topic the last few years