Working from home sounds great – but be aware of the downside. In this episode of The Psych Files I talk about what factors influence your job satisfaction and motivation when you work from home. I also discuss the interesting concept of “emotional labor” – what is it like when you know your boss is watching you and judging whether you are “acting happy” to customers? What’s the cost to you of acting in a way that is contrary to how you actually feel?
Impact on Job Satisfaction and Motivation
Equity Theory and Social Comparison: problems arise when we try to compare ourselves to other workers: it’s no longer easy to see what your co-workers are doing. It’s not easy for your boss either.
- we can’t see when they come in to work, and we can’t see when they leave
- can’t see what they’re doing as we used to when we passed by a co-workers office
- can’t see how many breaks our co-workers are taking
It is common, when we make comparisons to our co-workers, for us to underestimate how hard they work and overestimate how hard we work. The chances for perceptions of inequity increase, and along with it job dissatisfaction.
Managers of remote workers need to make an extra effort to make sure not only that work is distributed fairly, but also that their employees’ perceptions of their co-workers are accurate.
Surface acting is when front line service employees, the ones who interact directly with customers, have to appear cheerful and happy even when they’re not feeling it. This kind of faking is hard work sociologists call it “emotional labor” and research shows that’s often experienced as stressful. It’s psychologically and even physically draining; it can lead to lowered motivation and engagement with work, and ultimately to job burnout. – Annie Murphy Paul
…let me suggest that companies take another tack. Train workers well, so that they satisfy their customers with good service. Offer them congenial working conditions, so that they’re glad to be at work.Â Allow them more personal control over how they do their jobs (research shows this can buffer the stress imposed by surface acting). And provide them with opportunities to develop genuinely warm relationships with managers, coworkers, and customers so that employees have something real to smile about… – Annie Murphy Paul