Preliminary Lessons About Negotiating from Home

Covid19 has forced many companies to tell people to work from home.  We at Mobus Creative Negotiating are watching closely what serious researchers find about the impact this is having on our business behavior.  So far, not a lot of good evidence, but a lot of people are looking at the question.

What we do know is not very encouraging. Alexandre Mas and Amanda Pallais of Princeton University’s Industrial Relations Section, in one of the most in-depth studies (Alternative Work Arrangements), conclude: “While flexibility in work schedule and location have often been touted as a means of achieving work-life balance, we do not find evidence that these practices lead to reductions in job stress or family life interruptions. In fact, the opposite is generally true. Workers who report more flexibility tend to also have worse outcomes in these dimensions, as well as higher shares of long work days and late night work.” They also find that more educated workers have more flexibility but also longer hours, with more days of overtime work but a lower probability of their employer requiring overtime work.

And a word of warning: while there is much research on “alternative work arrangements,” that phrase turns out to cover two very different phenomenon.    As Tim Taylor writes ( Are Alternative Work Arrangements a Positive Option?), “If I’m the worker, and I have flexibility to telecommute some days or to vary my hours in the context of an ongoing employment relationship, that sounds good to me. But if I’m the worker, and the employer is telling me that my time schedule is shifting on a weekly or even a daily basis, or that I am required to work from home some days, that’s much less attractive to me.”And, as he puts it, the associated question is: do “workers choose these jobs, perhaps because they like the flexibility? Or do workers end up in alternative job arrangements when they would have preferred a more traditional ongoing job relationship, but were unable to find one?”

Keep posted for more updates on what research shows about how best to negotiate from home.