60-Second Science

Telecommuters Work Longer Hours Than Office-Goers

Census stats show that people who work at home at least some of the time put in more hours each week than those who stay at the office. Karen Hopkin reports

When I say “telecommuting,” do you picture yourself easing into the workday in a pair of fuzzy slippers? Well, so does your boss. But the reality is, you’re both dreaming. Because a new study shows that folks who work at home at least some of the time put in more hours than those who stay at the office. That’s according to work published in the journal Monthly Labor Review. [Mary C. Noonan and Jennifer L. Glass, The hard truth about telecommuting]

Telecommuting for a portion of the workweek certain has its appeal. Avoiding the time and cost involved in commuting and presumably having a more flexible schedule and a better work-life balance are all potential pluses. But are employees really able to take advantage of such work-at-home perks?

Researchers took advantage of labor information from census bureau surveys and were surprised by what they found. First off, the proportion of people who work remotely remained unchanged from the mid-’90s to the mid-2000s the most recent data available. Second, those who do telecommute are more likely to work overtime, an additional 5 to 7 hours on top of the standard 40.

Which means that people who work from the comfort of home are not slackers in slippers. They’re more likely tech-savvy self-starters—who don’t know when to stop.

—Karen Hopkin

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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