Stress of working from home may be bad for your health

British Psychological Society Conference
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Working from home exposes employees to higher levels of stress and emotional difficulty than their colleagues in the office, a study has found.

Working from home exposes employees to higher levels of stress and emotional difficulty than their colleagues in the office, a study has found.

Research among journalists has revealed that far from offering a panacea of extra free time to be spent with family and friends, so-called "teleworking'' often results in isolation and increased working hours.

The conference was told that reliance on technology such as computers, faxes and the internet increased working pressures, along with a lack of understanding from their bosses at company headquarters.

Even when they fall ill, home workers feel obliged to work on because their office-based colleagues see them as shirking responsibilities, according to the report by university researchers in Lancaster and Manchester.

The findings will come as a blow to ministers after the Government published a report last month urging employers to encourage staff to undertake flexible working, including working from home.

In the last two years, teleworking has boomed in Britain with 250,000 people opting to work from home in the last 12 months alone.

Dr Sandi Mann, of the University of Central Lancashire, who carried out the study with colleagues at University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, said: "Many who embrace teleworking do so in the belief that the reduction in commuting time, more flexible lifestyle and freedom from office interruptions will produce a healthier working environment. Our work shows this might not be the case. People who work from home feel isolated. They miss out on the emotional support and camaraderie you get at the office. They also experience a lot of guilt."

The report, based on the responses of 74 journalists on a broadsheet and tabloid newspaper split evenly between office-based and home-working, found a series of ills affecting teleworkers.

They were more likely to experience negative emotions of loneliness, irritability, resentment and frustration, as well as mental problems such as loss of concentration, insomnia and anxiety.

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