Working mothers’ mythical work/life balance

Neither flexitime nor working from home significantly lower working women’s stress levels according to a new study.

Working mothers are 18 per cent more stressed than other people according to a major study conducted by the Institute for Social and Economic Research at Essex University published in the journal Sociology. The study examined biological data taken by nurses from 6025 participants in the UK Household Longitudinal Survey and analysed 11 key indicators of chronic stress levels.

Neither working from home nor flexitime had an effect on women’s chronic stress levels. But reducing the number of hours they worked did have a positive impact.

The researchers found that the biomarkers indicating chronic stress, including hormone levels and blood pressure, were 40 per cent higher for women working full time while bringing up two children, than among women working full time with no children.  Women who were working full time and bringing up one child had 18 per cent higher levels of stress than women with no children.

“The use of reduced-hours flexible work arrangements appeared to moderate some of the association of family and work stressors. But there was little evidence that flexiplace or flexitime working arrangements were associated with lower chronic stress responses,” one of the researchers, Dr Michaela Benzeval, told the Guardian.