When Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer this February banned her employees from working from home, an uproar ensued in the business community. Supporters of workplace flexibility – including telecommuting, flexible schedules, job sharing and more – suggest that it leads to increased job satisfaction and other benefits. But does it instead blur the line between business and personal lives, creating a “never-ending work week” that threatens work-life balance? A new study published in the Journal of Management Inquiry asks women business owners, who have the freedom to work when and where they choose, this very question:
We saw that when the participants took time off during ordinary work hours to attend to nonwork-related responsibilities, they felt obligated to work more prior to the break or make up the time afterward. Flexibility is only an advantage if it sometimes enables a person to sacrifice work activities to nonwork obligations; otherwise, the imbalance always favors working more. When work becomes the fulcrum around which lives are organized, family, home, leisure, and all else are subordinated.
Click here to read “Living in a Culture of Overwork: An Ethnographic Study of Flexibility” by Kristina A. Bourne and Pamela J. Forman, both of the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire. The study is forthcoming in the Journal of Management Inquiry and now available in the journal’s OnlineFirst section.