May 11, 2018

The Roundup: Agile work, the dark side to work friendships, and research easing “working mom guilt”

This week, separate research finds that employees like the human touch of the office, but it’s important to be mindful that work friendships aren’t without their dark sides. Plus, a new study finds kids of working moms have more equal views on gender roles.

Danielle Ng-See-Quan

Dani is the Managing Editor, Content Marketing at Ceridian.

Employees actually love working in the office

According to Randstad Workmonitor’s quarterly survey, while many U.S. workers say they like having the option of being able to work remotely or from home, more than half (62%) still prefer to work in the office.

Another interesting finding from the survey is that that number goes up for younger workers: 65% of workers ages 18 to 24 said they prefer working in a traditional office environment. According to Randstad, this challenges the perception that millennial and Gen Z workers prefer digital interactions, or working outside of traditional workplaces.

The survey highlights the importance of employers continuously keeping the pulse on their employees’ engagement levels, and what they feel they need to be productive. The survey found that 80% of workers say they like “agile work,” that is, the ability to work from anywhere, at any time. It also highlights a point we touched on in a previous Roundup: while employers and employees alike are embracing technology as part of the changing world of work, they don’t want to lose the human touch.

Work friends without benefits

Speaking of the human touch, there are many documented advantages to being friends with colleagues at work, such as increased engagement, more creativity and innovation, and positive culture-building.

However, work friendships aren’t all sunshine and rainbows, as a new paper, “Friends Without Benefits: Understanding the Dark Sides of Workplace Friendship” from Wharton management professor Nancy Rothbard explores.

A caveat from Quartz, which reported on the paper’s findings: “the authors do not seek to disparage or discourage connections around the office … Still, there are reasons you can’t go about lunching and dishing at work with abandon, the way you might with non-work connections.”

In summary, Rothbard’s paper explains the core differences between work relationships and friendships, and that friends and colleagues need different things from each other. As per Quartz, “One problem, says Rothbard, is that when you’re deeply involved in a workplace friendship, it can be emotionally taxing and distracting to handle at the office, especially when interpersonal conflict arises.”

The paper also notes that workplace friendships can create cliques, or lead to poorer group decisions. Or worse, if you make friends with people who are similar to you, you might end up competing for work and assignments.

The takeaway, from Quartz: “Pay attention to how you’re choosing and nurturing [workplace friendships], and as usual, take care to navigate your workplace with consciousness.”

And just in time for Mother’s Day…

An April study published in the journal Work, Employment and Society finds that adult daughters who had working mothers are more likely to have careers and earn more than their peers who didn’t have working moms. And adult sons of working moms spend more time helping with household chores and caring for their children.

According to Time, which reported on the study:

“There’s a lot of talk about why women work,” says Kathleen McGinn, the study’s author and a professor at Harvard Business School. “A lot of those questions presume that, somehow, it’s detrimental to their families. That’s a whole bunch of ‘mother guilt’ based on almost no findings.”

As well:

People tend to have “more egalitarian” views on gender roles if they had working mothers, McGinn’s team found. That doesn’t mean stay-at-home moms are damaging their children’s futures. McGinn stresses there isn’t one “right” way to raise a child and that neither option is inherently detrimental. But as more moms enter the workforce, some wrestling with the guilt of leaving their child at home, her research is a tiny fist-bump to moms in the struggle.

Related: Transforming the workplace: Five ways to support women in leadership

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