Working from home? One is more vulnerable to unpaid overtime, stress and insomnia

A new report from the United Nations International Labour Organization studied the impacts of working remotely.

Working outside an office may spare reduce commutation and interruptions but it also makes you more vulnerable to unpaid overtime, stress and insomnia, the UN said today.

Based on data taken from 15 countries, the ILO found that employees were more productive while outside of a conventional office but noted it also brought risks of “longer working hours, higher work intensity and work-home interference.”


A full 42 per cent of people who always work from home or from multiple locations reported suffering from insomnia, compared to 29 per cent for people who work at their employer’s site.

Overall, there were clear risks linked to “the encroachment of work into spaces and times normally reserved for personal life,” the report said.

“Two to three days working from home seems to be that sweet spot”, co-author Jon Messenger told reporters in Geneva.

In some contexts, notably including India, evidence suggested that employer’s were reluctant to let their staff work remotely because “it involves ceding an element of control” which makes “managers feel threatened”, Messenger said.

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