Better work-life balance '˜improves job performance'

A better balance of home and work life can improve job performance, suggests new research.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 4th May 2016, 4:41 pm
Updated Wednesday, 4th May 2016, 9:00 pm

The traditional view is that employees need a strict separation between home and work, in order to maintain concentration and high performance.

This can include ignoring work emails at home, and not taking personal calls in the office.

But new research suggests more flexible working arrangements could help employees to improve their performance at work.

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And it could also improve well-being, researchers argue in the journal Human Relations.

Doctor Brandon Smit said: “In the long run, it may be better to allow employees’ minds to wander and take occasional phone calls from home rather than set up policies that establish strict and inflexible boundaries, which could discourage the development of functional ways to juggle both.”

The researchers outlined how people with flexible working arrangements are likely to develop ways to move between home and work more efficiently, and with less stress.

Their study finds that workers who use these policies - such as “flextime” and “flexplace” - experienced less disruption to job performance during times when home interruptions spilled over into the workplace.

However, the researchers said they recognise flexible working policies are not always available.

To help reduce the amount of mental effort an employee uses moving between home and work, they suggest methods such as setting goals. This involves creating plans that specify how and when incomplete tasks will be finished.

Creating these plans may help stop people being distracted by unfinished tasks that are not relevant at work.

Dr Smit added: “Overall, our findings suggest that integration, rather than segmentation, may be a better long-term boundary management strategy for minimising resource depletion and maintaining higher levels of job performance during inevitable work-family role transitions.”

The study was published by Sage in partnership with The Tavistock Institute.