New research on web work and workaholism under way

Does web work promote workaholism? It’s a question we asked a few weeks ago on WebWorkerDaily, prompting plenty of strong opinions from readers, many of whom had seen their working hours slowly encroach on their family time. The post quoted a pair of experts who were concerned about the issue, but no specific academic research. Apparently, now some is in the works.

Jay Mulki, a business professor at Northeastern University, has been studying the issue, conducting surveys of telecommuters and is currently analyzing the results. In advance of the release of the research, Mulki gave a sneak peak of his developing findings to the University’s website. Based on what he says, workaholism and web work are likely to be linked. He said:

As expected, remote work and telecommuting increased productivity for the business and provided flexibility for the employee. But we’ve found people often have difficulty getting away from work, and as a result, the work-family balance may actually be getting worse. Some people can manage it, while others can’t and often experience conflicts in their work and life. In the second part of our study, we are actually looking at whether the work-life balance is real or a myth, and how managers can help employees achieve this balance.

Rather than a challenge solely for the web worker, Mulki went on to say that this was an issue for managers to tackles as well as individual team members:

Smart managers are directing their people to have the discipline to start and stop work at specific times. They are also encouraging them to set up their workspace as if they are in an office setting. There are times when all employees will put in extra time, but we’ve found that some teleworkers feel obligated to work more hours and worry they can’t disengage from work. They are feeling that the work is always there.

As the manager of a dispersed team, do you feel it is your responsibility as well as your employees to ensure they draw a firm line between work and the rest of their lives? 

Image courtesy Flickr user ryantron