Teleworkers can damage main office work environment

Telecommuting may harm workers left behind in the office, says Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute professor

Much has been made of the impact of teleworking on the careers of those who work outside traditional office environments. But what about the impact on those left behind in the office?

A new study by a management professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, looks at that issue and finds that high numbers of telecommuters in an office can damage traditional workers' job satisfaction and increase the likelihood that they'll leave a company.

Timothy Golden, associate professor in the Lally School of Management & Technology at Rensselaer, studied 240 professional employees from a midsize company. He found the greater the number of teleworkers in an office, the less others in the office are apt to be satisfied with their jobs and remain with the company. In addition, non-teleworkers may have weaker emotional ties to coworkers and generally feel less obligated to the organization.

"While reasons for the adverse impact on non-teleworker's satisfaction are varied, it potentially could be due to coworker's perceptions that they have decreased flexibility and a higher workload, and the ensuing greater frustration that comes with coordinating in an environment with more extensive co-worker telework," Golden said in a statement.

"In addition, it may be that with a greater prevalence of teleworkers in a work unit, non-teleworkers may find it less personally fulfilling to conduct their work due to the increased obstacles to building and maintaining effective and rewarding co-worker relationships."

For managers who want to mitigate some of the damage, Golden's research suggests a few options, including trying to ensure greater face-to-face contact between coworkers when employees are in the office, and giving employees greater job autonomy.

He also recommends companies "take into account the broader impact of telework on others in the office, particularly within team-based work environments, and exercise caution when implementing or expanding this work mode based purely on individual desires to telework."

Industry research, meanwhile, continues to show telework adoption is on the rise. A recent survey of HR managers by outsourcing provider Yoh found that 81% of companies have remote-work policies in place and 67% of respondents said they expect telecommuting will increase in the next two years.

Golden's findings were published in a recent issue of the journal Human Relations.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ann Bednarz

Network World
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?