Is Being at Work Less Stressful than Being at Home?

-*Has the workplace replaced home as a preferred haven?

Sarah Damaske

Sarah Damaske

Both men and women showed fewer physiological signs of stress and reported feeling happier at work than at home, according to Penn State’s Sarah Damaske, Joshua M. Smyth, and Matthew J. Zawadzki.
However, their estimates of workplace were inconsistent with their actual physical stress levels.
This suggests that people report more stress at work than their bodies “register.”

Arlie Hochschild

Arlie Hochschild

Damaske’s team analyzed objective and subjective indicators of stress among more than 120 employed men and women and found support and counterpoints to Arlie Russell Hochschild’s 1997 Time Bind hypothesis, developed at University of California Berkeley.

 A 2013 Pew Research Social and Demographic Trends Report found that 56% of working moms and 50% of working dads say they find it very or somewhat difficult to balance work and family responsibilities, due in large part to a mismatch between available time to fulfill responsibilities at home and work:  More than 40% of working mothers of children under age 18 and 34%-50% of working fathers of minor children said they “always feel rushed.”

Joshua M. Smythe

Joshua M. Smythe

Participants in Team Damaske’s study showed lower physiological indicators of stress at work, measured by blood levels of stress hormone cortisol levels, and this effect was particularly significant for people with lower incomes or no children at home.

However, these same participants reported greater subjective feelings of stress on workdays than on non-work days.

Matthew Zawadzki

Matthew Zawadzki

Women reported greater stress and less happiness at home, perhaps due to the increasingly blurred boundaries between work and home, with work demands continuing at home with email, conference calls, and text messages, suggested Damaske’s team.

In addition, workplace concierge service, prepared meals, onsite health care and gym services may increase workplace attraction.
Further, emotional attachments at work may be somewhat less intense than at home, so it may be easier to “detach” from work relationships.

Jason Schnittker

Jason Schnittker

People who work have better mental and physical health than their non-working peers, according to research by Damaske, University of Pennsylvania’s Jason Schnittker, as well as Mark Tausig and Adrianne Frech of University of Akron, all in separate studies.

Mark Tausig

Mark Tausig

These findings point to the value of continued workplace participation, particularly in Results Only Work Environments (ROWE), which encourage flexibility in the time and location of work while delivering agreed results.

Adrianne Frech

Adrianne Frech

Online collaboration tools like teleconferences with video capabilities and document sharing, computer-based soft phones, and work email integration with personal mobile devices are programs that enable employees to manage personal responsibilities through telecommuting, paid sick days, paternity and maternity leaves.

Cali Ressler-Jody Thompson

Cali Ressler-Jody Thompson

These programs can increase employee productivity and retention while reducing employee stress at the junction between work and home, noted Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson, who evaluated the financial and organizational impact of ROWE.

-*How to you reduce stress in the transition from home to work to home?

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