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The benefits of working from home

With the last few dramatic weeks, odds are that your office desk has been exchanged for the kitchen table or living room sofa. We explore some results from research on the effects of working from home. As it turns out, it might actually reduce stress and improve your well-being. 

We know from decades of research that our well-being at work is heavily influenced by how much control we have over our work, and what social support our colleagues can give us. Providing employees with both proper support and a possibility to be in control of how their work is carried out is known to be important in helping them thrive. This may feel like easy work in the office - the proximity and immediacy of communication gives us a good chance to understand when someone is stressed, and allows us to step in and help where need be. However, with the acute changes going currently in our work life - do we have any idea of what will happen with our colleagues' well-being? 

Quite a lot of research has looked into the topic of remote work and well-being over the last years. Calmingly, the results seem to paint a positive picture: 

  • Control. For one, employees that work remotely tend to report higher feelings of control over their work life, which in turn has been linked to feeling more satisfied with one’s job. 
  • Balance. In general, employees that work remotely report that they experience less conflicts between their work life and family life. 
  • Mental health. Distributed employees are found to actually have better psychological health compared to those working under more classic circumstances - in other words, they seem to feel less stress and strain. 

What’s the takeaway then? With the unexpected changes that COVID-19 has brought to our daily routine, feelings of lost control and worry over how one’s team can function are both warranted and reasonable. However, interacting with your colleagues through a display can still provide good support for them - and while we may experience a loss of control in some aspects of our lives, we might actually get it back in other ways. 


References 

Aronsson, G., Hellgren, J., Isaksson, K., Johansson G., Sverke, M., & Torbiörn, I. (2012). Arbets- och organisationspsykologi: individ och organisation i samspel. (1 edition). Natur & Kultur.

Asif, F., Javed, U., & Janjua, S. Y. (2018). The job demand-control-support model and employee wellbeing: A meta-analysis of previous research. Pakistan Journal of Psychological Research, 33(1), 203–221.

Gajendran, R. S., & Harrison, D. A. (2007). The good, the bad, and the unknown about telecommuting: Meta-analysis of psychological mediators and individual consequences. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92(6), 1524–1541. 

Kröll, C., Doebler, P., & Nüesch, S. (2017). Meta-analytic evidence of the effectiveness of stress management at work. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 26(5), 677–693. 


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