Let me go to the office! An investigation into the side effects of working from home on work-life balance

Rocco Palumbo (Department of Management and Law, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Publication date: 7 October 2020

Abstract

Purpose

The disruptions brought by COVID-19 pandemic compelled a large part of public sector employees to remotely work from home. Home-based teleworking ensured the continuity of the provision of public services, reducing disruptions brought by the pandemic. However, little is known about the implications of telecommuting from home on the ability of remote employees to manage the work-life interplay. The article adopts a retrospective approach, investigating data provided by the sixth European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) to shed lights into this timely topic.

Design/methodology/approach

An empirical, quantitative research design was crafted. On the one hand, the direct effects of telecommuting from home on work-life balance were investigated. On the other hand, work engagement and perceived work-related fatigue were included in the empirical analysis as mediating variables which intervene in the relationship between telecommuting from home and work-life balance.

Findings

Home-based telecommuting negatively affected the work-life balance of public servants. Employees who remotely worked from home suffered from increased work-to-life and life-to-work conflicts. Telecommuting from home triggered greater work-related fatigue, which worsened the perceived work-life balance. Work engagement positively mediated the negative effects of working from home on work-life balance.

Practical implications

Telecommuting from home has side effects on the ability of remote workers to handle the interplay between work-related commitments and daily life activities. This comes from the overlapping between private life and work, which leads to greater contamination of personal concerns and work duties. Work engagement lessens the perceptions of work-life unbalance. The increased work-related fatigue triggered by remote working may produce a physical and emotional exhaustion of home-based teleworkers.

Originality/value

The article investigates the side effects of remotely working from home on work-life balance, stressing the mediating role of work engagement and work-related fatigue.

Keywords

Citation

Palumbo, R. (2020), "Let me go to the office! An investigation into the side effects of working from home on work-life balance", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 33 No. 6/7, pp. 771-790. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPSM-06-2020-0150

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Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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