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Telecommuting isn't for everyone, experts say

Telecommuting isn't for everyone, experts say

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SALT LAKE CITY -- With unemployment staying relatively high, many people are considering telecommuting. But some therapists say it's not the best option for everyone.

On paper, working online from home sounds like a great idea, and for many people it works out just fine. But a recent report in the Journal of Business and Psychology says the more hours someone telecommutes from home, the more risk there is for burnout. Aspen Counseling Services Therapist Joe Allred says it happens when work seems to overtake home life.

In large part, they can't get away from their work. Those that work away from home have the convenience of leaving it.

–Joe Allred

"They're not decreasing in their level of stress. It's actually an increase because, in large part, they can't get away from their work," he said. "Those that work away from home have that convenience of leaving it."

He added, "In many circumstances, it can be detrimental to the individual as well as the family." Quitting the online job isn't always a viable option. Parents may need to work from home so they can also take care of their kids. But Allred says there are ways to make telecommuting more bearable.

Signs of depression include...
  • Feelings of sadness or unhappiness
  • Irritability or frustration, even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Changes in appetite
  • Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
  • Fatigue, tiredness
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Crying spells for no apparent reason
  • Unexplained physical problems

"That may be creating a completely different room and dedicating that [as] your place of employment, whatever it is that you're doing, and having that be off limits to every member of the family, including yourself when you're not working," Allred said.

People who are prone to sadness or depression need to pay extra attention to how they feel while they work from home. Allred says too many people downplay the stress they feel until it becomes a serious problem.

"Our culture is to [tell ourselves], ‘Forget about it. It'll go away. It'll pass. Let it go,'" he pointed out.

He says the spouses of telecommuters need to look for signs of depression, and help get their loved ones out of the house as much as possible. So, "date nights" are a must.


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Paul Nelson


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