The Thin Line Between Work and Home

The Thin Line Between Work and Home

The Thin Line Between Work and Home

The boundaries between work and home have been of great interest to researchers and practitioners for some years and if anything is becoming an increasingly pertinent issue.

As work and home can be thought of as incompatible – success and commitment to work often leads to diminished participation at home, researchers aimed to consider the conflicts that may arise:

Using a strain-based approach as well as literature on spillover–crossover and displaced aggression, we hypothesized that daily level of family–work conflict (FWC) would increase daily interpersonal conflicts with colleagues at work, which in turn would increase conflicts with the partner at home.

The researchers collected data from employees of 25 different organisations throughout 2012.

Participants were asked to maintain a diary over the research period:

Specifically, daily interpersonal conflicts at work and daily FWC were measured at the end of the workday (in the afternoon), whereas daily interpersonal conflicts at home were reported before going to bed (in the evening). Responses of couples were linked by means of anonymous codes provided by the participants.

Once the researchers from the University of East Anglia, Norwich collated all of the data they found several themes:

Our first finding suggests that daily interpersonal conflicts at work may arise as a result of daily family-work-conflict

That is to say that individuals may have difficulty attending to work issues because family interferences have made the employee irritable:

Reacting negatively towards colleagues instead of using more adaptive strategies such as seeking social support or being assertive. That is, the employee gets into arguments with others because he/she is irritated.

The research team found this could become a vicious circle with those irritable due to family interferences rating that colleagues had been unpleasant:

This may be because there is a reciprocal negative reaction.

The strain derived from conflicts with colleagues is transferred to the home domain (spillover) and affects also the employee’s partner (crossover). The authors gave the following advice:

Organizations may help employees manage their workload and work commitments to reduce FWC, which is a trigger of interpersonal conflicts with colleagues in the workplace.