There’s a Dark Side to Working From Home


A lot of cubicle drones often have day dreams about working from home: the 2-minute commute from bed to desk, ability to attend meetings in your pajamas, access to your Chemex and perfectly set up coffee grinder.

But there may be some hidden hazards to living the fantasy of 9-to-5ers.

To explore how our now-ubiquitous digital devices are affecting the many workers who telecommute or do work remotely, the International Labour Organization recently studied employees in 15 countries, including the U.S., U.K., and Japan. The researchers found that though there are many positive aspects to working from home or offsite—like increased autonomy during working hours, better flexibility in time organization, and the oft-desired reduced commuting time—the way that the work day can spill over into your personal time can be a big negative.

“This report shows that the use of modern communication technologies facilitates a better overall work-life balance but, at the same time, also blurs the boundaries between work and personal life, depending on the place of work and the characteristics of different occupations,” said study co-author Jon Messenger of the ILO. And this “breaking of the traditional boundaries” can increase stress and other health problems for the home worker—the report found that 41% of mobile employees felt stressed, compared to only 25% of the cubicle jockeys, and a full 42% had trouble sleeping, with only 29% of office workers reporting insomnia.

The researchers cautioned that the home-and-mobile setup can generate a “tendency to lead to longer working hours [which could] create an overlap between paid work and personal life (work–home interference), and to result in work intensification.”

Our advice? Set clear boundaries with your office-dwelling bosses and make an unalterable appointment at least three times a week to do one of these high-intensity workouts to get some stress relief and build some boundaries.

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