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Study shows telecommuting is making us work more

Folks, we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again.

Put yourself on a schedule, the same way your boss does at a real-world office, and make sure you take breaks and walk away from your computer at the end of the day.

In fact, we wrote about burnout just last week in Avoid the Traps of Telecommuting.

And now a study, published in Monthly Labor Review, reveals that we’re letting telework seep into our home life

“As a strategy of resistance to longer work hours at the office,” the report says, “telecommuting appears to be somewhat successful in relocating those hours but not eliminating them. A less sanguine interpretation is that the ability of employees to work at home may actually allow employers to raise expectations for work availability during evenings and weekends and foster longer workdays and workweeks.”

Yikes! That can’t be good.

The report recommends further investigation of whether employees increase their work hours after initiation of telecommuting. And it fingers technological advancements that keep us connected to whomever wherever and whenever.

“Since telecommuting is intrinsically linked to information technologies that facilitate 24/7 communication between clients, coworkers, and supervisors, telecommuting can potentially increase the penetration of work tasks into home time,” the report says.

“Bolstering this interpretation, the 2008 Pew Networked Workers survey reports that the majority of wired workers report telecommuting technology has increased their overall work hours and that workers use technology, especially email, to perform work tasks even when sick or on vacation.”

Look … we need to take breaks, whether they’re 15-minute jaunts to the coffee shop, breaking away at the end of the day or taking a one- or two-week vacation.

And going dark when we do.

The breaks refresh, relax and recharge us. They benefit our productivity, our focus and our creativity.

CNN Money had a great slideshow in October, describing five ways to take a break.  I’m not all over the last slide on doing something outrageous. I’m no thrill-seeker but I do head out into the back roads with my dog and my camera to take pictures of old barns and abandoned farm houses.

How do you take breaks? And how do you force yourself to take them?

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