Here's one reason people might turn down flexible work: they want to protect their relationship

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The Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre in Western Australia has just released a detailed study on the benefits of working from home.

To do that the researchers examined how working patterns affected relationships within the family.

Generally, they found working from home is a good idea and makes everyone happy.

However, measuring the satisfaction of the family the researchers discovered some interesting facts about the relationship between men and women.

The statistical modelling revealed:

  • The level of satisfaction with a relationship, from the point of view of both women and men, falls off with each year they have been together. This levels out after being together for 25 years.
  • Satisfaction with how housework is shared also falls off with the longer the relationship has been going.
  • Both men and women are more satisfied with the relationships when they are legally married rather than living as de factos. They are also more satisfied with the current relationship if they have themselves have been previously married.
  • Children, particularly pre-school aged children, have a large negative effect. Men and women are less satisfied with the relationship when children are living at home. Women feel that they shoulder a disproportionate share of chores and childcare when there are children at home.
  • Men and women are most satisfied with the relationships when their partner works and they do not work at all. The researchers were surprised that this finding which also held true for men. When it comes to how fairly housework is shared, people are most happy when they work full-time and their partner works part-time.
  • These findings offer support for the view that growth in dual income families has contributed to a rising trend in work-family conflict.
  • Prosperity and your partner being in good health are very good for marital harmony.

Mike Dockery, associate professor and a principal lead research fellow, says: “We can now confidently say that, on balance, working from home helps family functioning.”

However, he says not everyone is cut out for working from home.

“Each family is different when it comes to finding the balance between work and family that works best for them,” he says. “This may explain why more Australians are not taking up the option to work from home.”

The proportion of employees working from home in Australia has been stagnant at around 17% for more than a decade despite better communications and systems for working remotely.

The study examined data from the families of over 10,000 employees in Australia.

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