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Combining your home and work life can be better for role performance say researchers

May 03, 2016

London, UK (May 04, 2016). Leaving work at the office and home at the door may not always be the best strategy for employee well-being and performance, finds a new study published in the journal Human Relations by SAGE in partnership with The Tavistock Institute.

Traditionally it has been thought that in order to maintain concentration and high performance, employees needed to have a strict separation between home and work. However, new research suggests that in fact integration across both domains reduces the impact of moving between home and work roles while also preserving employees' ability to be effective in their jobs.

"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", argue the researchers.

They outline how individuals with integrated boundaries across home and work are likely to develop methods that help them transition between these domains more efficiently and with less mental effort. Their study finds that employees who use flexible working arrangements, such as "flextime" and "flexplace", experienced less disruption to job performance during times when home interruptions spilled over into the workplace.

To help reduce the number of cognitive role transitions an employee experiences throughout the day when work-life integration policies are not feasible, they suggest methods such as goal setting, which involves creating plans that specify 'what, when and how' incomplete tasks will be accomplished. Creating these plans may help prevent mental distractions from unfinished tasks that are not relevant at work. They conclude:

"Overall, our findings suggest that integration, rather than segmentation, may be a better long-term boundary management strategy for minimizing resource depletion and maintaining higher levels of job performance during inevitable work-family role transitions."
-end-
For an embargoed copy of the article, "Out of Sight, Out of Mind? How and When Cognitive Role Transition Episodes", by Brandon Smit, Patrick Maloney, Carl Maertz and Tamara Montag-Smit and published in Human Relations, please contact mollie.broad@sagepub.co.uk (UK) or tiffany.medina@sagepub.com (US).

Sara Miller McCune founded SAGE Publishing in 1965 to support the dissemination of usable knowledge and educate a global community. SAGE is a leading international provider of innovative, high-quality content publishing more than 900 journals and over 800 new books each year, spanning a wide range of subject areas. A growing selection of library products includes archives, data, case studies and video. SAGE remains majority owned by our founder and after her lifetime will become owned by a charitable trust that secures the company's continued independence. Principal offices are located in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC and Melbourne. http://www.sagepublishing.com

The Tavistock Institute of Human Relations (TIHR) applies social science to contemporary issues and problems. It was established as a not for profit organization with charitable purpose in 1947, and that same year founded Human Relations with the Research Center for Group Dynamics at MIT. The Institute is engaged with evaluation and action research, organisational development and change consultancy, executive coaching and professional development, all in service of supporting sustainable change and ongoing learning. http://www.tavinstitute.org/

Human Relations is an international peer reviewed journal, which publishes the highest quality original research to advance our understanding of social relationships at and around work. Human Relations encourages strong empirical contributions that develop and extend theory as well as more conceptual papers that integrate, critique and expand existing theory. Human Relations also welcomes critical reviews that genuinely advance our understanding of the connections between management, organizations and interdisciplinary social sciences and critical essays that address contemporary scholarly issues and debates within the journal's scope. http://hum.sagepub.com/

SAGE

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