A UN Study Shows That Telecommuting Can Increase Stress Levels

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Working from home has its perks. Telecommuters report that their remote arrangement makes them happier, more productive, and less prone to taking breaks and sick days—plus it cuts down on commuting time. However, a new study suggests that these isolated workers experience increased stress levels, Fox Business reports.

The United Nations International Labour Organization surveyed workers from 15 countries (including the U.S.) to see how telecommuting affects those who’ve adopted the lifestyle. They looked at various types of remote employees, including regular, home-based ones; people who occasionally work outside the office; and highly mobile workers who work from multiple locations, including their homes.

The UN noted several upsides to working remotely (such as those previously mentioned), but they also noted that all three categories of telecommuter reported feeling more stressed than their office-bound counterparts. For example, 41 percent of highly mobile employees said they felt some level of stress, compared to only 25 percent of office workers. (The 25 percent stat may seem low to American workers, 44 percent of whom said in 2016 that job stress affects their health.)

Telecommuters may experience additional stress because they log longer hours; after all, working remotely often leads to increased availability. Also, when you can work from anywhere, at any time, it’s often hard to know when to stop—and when you don’t need to commute every day, it’s easier to squeeze in two extra hours of work. Workers can take steps to ensure that work doesn't blur with their personal lives, but it's also important for employers to respect remote employees' downtime.

When it comes to telecommuting (as for many things), a little goes a long way: People who worked from home “occasionally” reported positive health gains. A balance between remote and in-office work may help employees reap the best of both worlds, Jon Messenger, the report’s co-author, concluded. "Two to three days working from home seems to be that sweet spot,” he said, according to the AFP.

[h/t Fox Business]