Telecommuters Cause Bad Morale? Perhaps That Is Indicative Of A Bigger Problem

from the that's-why-it's-called- dept

With increased home connectivity and gas prices on the rise, telecommuting has grown in popularity. But, a recent study warns that organizations with high numbers of telecommuters can damage traditional workers' job satisfaction. The study, published by RPI management professor, Timothy Golden, found a correlation between the number of teleworkers in the office and lower job satisfaction in non-teleworkers. Perhaps a better explanation would be that the non-teleworkers feel like they're being treated unfairly. Although studies have shown that telecommuters are happier and less stressed, the happiness actually comes not from the telecommuting itself, but from the higher flexibility and autonomy afforded by telecommuting policies. By not chaining workers to a desk for 8 hours a day (which has also been shown to stifle productivity), employees are afforded the flexibility they need to mold their job around their busy lives, and not the other way around. Golden does realizes this fact in his report, so instead of making the telecommuters feel "special," he recommends that telecommuting be approached at an organizational level rather than a case-by-case basis. Whether or not your desk sits in your house, at the office, or both, it is not the location of the desk that is important, but rather the flexibility to choose when and where you sit.

Filed Under: telecommuting

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  1. identicon
    Cynic, 14 Jan 2008 @ 7:16pm

    I do agree that there are benefits to both working situations, plus the also common situation of working in the office PLUS at home.

    However (in my current job at least) I do not believe there is any doubt that the telecommuters place an extra burden on those in the office, and I am *not* saying this is the fault of the telecommuters. For instance, our cubical phones are not able to conference an arbitrary number of in house and external calls, and only certain conference rooms have polycoms, and they are often unavailable. If an office is used (also better phones) one must close the door to avoid disturbing the floor, but then everyone thinks you're in a private manager meeting instead of just a coordination session. Large files and some applications don't go across VPN well, causing office workers to use different approaches for sharing information than if everyone were present. The telecommuters don't hear overhead pages or announcements, nor are they aware if the entire building has just evacuated because of an unannounced fire drill. Any one of these things may sound rare, but add them up and on a daily basis I find there is always a need to reschedule, adapt, do extra communication, etc. It's really the employer not properly *preparing* for the telecommuting, but you know how employers are always willing to step up to the plate and accept responsibility for screw ups, right?

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