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Job Flexibility: Harder Than It Sounds

work from home

Work From Home Isn't Easy

As a freelance writer, I realize how lucky I am that I am able to work from home and can set my own schedule. But there’s a downside too.

For one, I never get to leave work behind at the office. For another, since I have no set schedule, I am often overwhelmed with options — do I return e-mails or play with the kids? All those options can stress a person out!

My kids often complain that I’m always working. I try to explain that by working at home, I get to see them more often. But then I fret that during the time we spend together at home, my attention is often divided. In particularly difficult moments, I wonder if we’d all be happier if I was working outside the home during set hours (but then I remember how good I’ve got it!).

LiveScience recently reported about new research that confirmed what I experience every day. “People who have more schedule control at work tend to report more blurring of the boundaries between work and the other parts of their lives, especially family-related roles,” according to LiveScience.

Researchers from the University of Toronto measured work flexibility and its impact on work-family balance by surveying more than 1,2000 American workers.

“Most people probably would identify schedule control as a good thing—an indicator of flexibility that helps them balance their work and home lives,” University of Toronto professor Scott Schieman, who authored the study, along with PhD student Marisa Young. “We wondered about the potential stress of schedule control for the work-family interface.”

The authors found that people who have more control over their work schedule are more likely to work at home and multi-task. People who blur the lines between work and family also tend to report higher levels of “work-family conflict,” which can be quite stressful (as I know!)

Their study examined people who have more flexible schedules in work-outside-the-home jobs, not work-at-home jobs like mine. I’m curious what they’d find if they studied the schedules of freelance writer/moms.

Do you have flexible hours at work? If so, does it reduce stress or cause you stress?

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Photo: iStockphoto.com/FotoShoot

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