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Flexible Work Schedules Can Lead to Family Conflicts

Having a flexible work schedule isn’t always a good thing.

Employees who have full or partial control of when they arrive, leave and complete duties tend to report blurring of the borders between work and other parts of their lives, a study shows.

While workers with no schedule control tend to report more conflicts between job and family demands, those who have a say in their schedule are hardly free of stress, according to Scott Schieman, lead author of the study.

The workers with flexibility tend to blend their work life with their family life by performing job duties at home. This merging of key social roles can cause physical and mental stress and conflicts with their co-workers, spouses and children, according to the study, which is titled “Is There a Downside to Schedule Control for the Work-Family Interface?” and can be found online.

“They integrate these roles more, which may undermine functioning in each,” Schieman, a sociology professor at University of Toronto, told BusinessNewsDaily. "It puts a lot of extra demand and pressure on people's attention and energy.”

Still, workers with no schedule control fare worse and often report more work-family conflict.

“People who had partial or full schedule control were able to engage in work-family multitasking activities with fewer negative consequences in terms of conflict between their work and family roles,” said Schieman, whose findings were based on a survey of more than 1,200 U.S. workers.

“We observe that working at home is no longer significantly associated with work-family conflict. Overall, our findings contribute to an ongoing and complicated debate about the costs and benefits of different forms of flexibility for workers.”

To relieve stresses, Schieman said, managers who allow flexibility should openly discuss work-family issues and outline work priorities versus the other parts of their employees’ lives.

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