Employees with most control take jobs home

Wed Dec 10, 2008 4:06pm EST
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By Ellen Wulfhorst

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Employees with high levels of job autonomy and control over their work schedules are more likely to bring work home with them, triggering conflict within their families, according to research released on Wednesday.

Workers with the most autonomy tend to work at home or communicate with their workplace outside of normal hours, many times a day, said the study by University of Toronto sociology professor Scott Schieman and doctoral candidate Paul Glavin.

The study, which used data from more than 2,600 U.S. workers, was published in the November issue of the journal Social Problems. The research showed that flexible work situations, including the ability to set one's own schedule, can have unwelcome consequences, said Schieman.

"It's basically trying to get at how work intrudes into non-working life, and what we found was that schedule control and job autonomy both are associated with more of that," he said. "It gets at this idea that you are available 24/7."

With more work being done at home, flexible work schedules and job autonomy raise levels of work-family conflict, the study indicated.

"They have this downside in that they blur the borders between work and family life," Schieman said. "And it's not an even playing field because work is the greedy institution that can always enter."

Most of the blurring of work and family can be traced to innovations in technology, he added.

"The old style is you punch in at 9 and punch out at 5, and the borders around work are really fixed and rigid," he said. "Now, because of communication technology, work has you any time it wants."

(Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst; editing by Todd Eastham)

<p>A Google employee works on a laptop in front of a mural of the New York City skyline, at the New York City company office March 10, 2008. REUTERS/Erin Siegal</p>