As per a recent study, telecommuting works best in moderation. The study reveals that telecommuting can boost employee job satisfaction and productivity, but only when it’s carefully implemented with specific individual and organizational factors in mind.
A key factor in determining the success of a telework plan, for example, is the proportion of time that an employee works remotely versus in the office.
The report is authored by leading researchers in workplace psychology Tammy D. Allen (University of South Florida), Timothy D. Golden (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), and Kristen M. Shockley (City University of New York).
The report is accompanied by a commentary from Kenneth Matos (Senior Director of Research) and Ellen Galinsky (President and Co-Founder) of the Families and Work Institute.
Despite the popularity of telecommuting, public opinion about its merits tends to be one-sided. Allen, Golden, and Shockley said that this sort of comprehensive view is essential to aiding individuals, organizations and public policy-makers in shaping telecommuting practices.
According to Matos and Galinsky, the report provides a powerful blueprint for practitioners to maximize the positive impacts of telecommuting while minimizing its drawbacks and understanding the nuances of what makes their telecommuting programs succeed or fail.
In their systematic review of available scientific research, Allen and colleagues find evidence that telecommuting is indeed associated with various positive outcomes for employees, including greater job satisfaction, lower work stress, and even improved job performance.
But they also find that these positive outcomes don’t hold for all workers in all situations.
With a comprehensive plan in place, the practice is not an incidental employee benefit but rather a reflection of an organization’s core values and mission:
“Telecommuting can be part of an organization’s strategic way of doing business,” Allen, Golden, and Shockley conclude.
The study is published in Psychological Science in the Public Interest.