Most of the news this week is about the supercommittee and Thanksgiving recipes, so it took some digging to find a topic for today’s post. However, when I finally uncovered one, I wanted to bury it deep where no one ever would unearth it again.

That’s because it was an article that detailed study findings published in the Journal of Business and Psychology that shows telework could do more harm than good to parents and others seeking work-family balance.

“A teleworker may feel conflict more because you’re being constantly reminded of your home role: whether it’s what you need to do as a parent or household chores,” study leader Timothy Golden, associate professor at at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, told “And that can make exhaustion worse.”

As I read Golden’s comments, I fought the urge to scream, “Shut up! SHUT UP! You’re ruining EVERYTHING!

I wanted to send Golden information on how teleworkers are happier, healthier, better balanced.  Mostly though, I just wanted to yell at him.

Then I read the fine print in his research. It’s based on a survey of 316 workers at one company that allowed telework. Golden had participants rate from 1 to 5 their levels of exhaustion, as well as how strongly they agreed with:
“My work keeps me from my family activities more than I would like.”
“Due to pressures at work, sometimes when I am at home I am too stressed to do the things I enjoy.”
“The time I spend on family responsibilities often interferes with my work responsibilities.”
“Because I am often stressed from family responsibilities, I have a hard time concentrating on my work.”

Apparently, teleworkers were more exhausted and most likely to feel conflicted about work and family responsibilities. Well, duh! That’s not the fault of telework, Professor Golden; that’s just called parenting.

And maybe the workers in the study are more exhausted and conflicted because their employer doesn’t have a culture that truly supports telework, rather than just giving it lip service.

“Telework, if it’s done well, can be very beneficial,” Golden eventually said. Well, way to bury the lead, professor! Here’s to hoping those employees in your survey can find a way to do it well. Meantime, I’m pleased as punch with telework and am sure I’m not alone.

What do you think? Do you think Golden’s research suggests there’s an inherent problem with telework? Or, are the study results limited to the one company examined? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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