Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2022;48(2):99-108    pdf full text

doi:10.5271/sjweh.3996 | Published online: 15 Nov 2021, Issue date: 01 Mar 2022

Working at home and expectations of being available: effects on perceived work environment, turnover intentions, and health

by Knardahl S, Christensen JO

Objectives The aim of this study was to determine if (i) working at home and (ii) expectations of being available to the employer in their spare time influences employees’ perceptions of their work environment and well-being, health, organizational commitment, or intention to leave.

Methods We conducted cross-sectional analyses of survey data from 7861 office workers reporting hours worked at home and 3146 reporting frequency of expectations of being available to the employer in spare time (availability expectations). Prospective analyses (two-year follow up) comprised 5258 and 2082, respectively. Dependent variables were work factors previously associated with health complaints, mental distress, positive affect, work–private life conflict, commitment, and intention to leave. Random intercept linear and logistic regressions controlled for time worked (in addition to regular hours), age, gender, and skill level.

Results "Hours working at home" was cross-sectionally associated with higher levels of demands, role ambiguity, role conflicts, decision control, empowering leadership, human resource primacy, commitment, work–private life conflict, and lower support from co-workers. "Availability expectations" was associated with higher levels of demands, role conflicts, neck pain, mental distress, thinking that work was not finished when going to bed, sleep problems, work–private life conflict, intentions to leave and with lower levels of superior support, co-worker support, fair leadership, and commitment. There were no prospective associations.

Conclusions Working at home was associated with both positive and negative factors. Specific factors pertaining to role expectations and support from co-workers pose challenges. Availability expectations was associated with potentially negative work factors and health, organizational commitment, and intentions to leave. There were no long-term effects.

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