November 2018

IZA DP No. 11993: Does Telework Stress Employees Out? A Study on Working at Home and Subjective Well-Being for Wage/Salary Workers

Using data from the 2010, 2012, and 2013 American Time Use Survey Well-Being Modules, this paper examines how subjective well-being (SWB) varies between working at home and working in the workplace among wage/salary workers. Both OLS and individual fixed-effects models are employed for estimation, and the results are largely consistent. In general, we find that working at home is associated with a lower level of net affect and a higher probability of having unpleasant feelings relative to working in the workplace. We further decompose homeworking into telework and bringing work home and find that the effect of SWB varies by types of homeworking. In comparison with working in the workplace, telework increases stress in both samples of weekdays and weekends/holidays, and it also reduces net affect and increases unpleasantness in the sample of weekends/holidays. In contrast, bringing work home on weekdays results in a lower level of net affect due to less happiness received. The only positive effect of homeworking we discover is that telework reduces tiredness on weekdays. As to the existence of gender difference in the effect of homeworking, our OLS results show that working at home is associated with positive affections for males but negative affections for females. However, fixed-effects models suggest that both males and females feel more stressed when teleworking, indicating the existence of individual heterogeneity.