January 11, 2008

Telecommuting Bad for Office Morale

A recent study of 240 employees at a medium sized company shows that telecommuting has led to decreased morale and added stress for those who remain in the office.

The Society of Human Resource Management's statistics show that about 37 percent of U.S.-based and international companies offer telecommuting positions, and the number of those programs is growing at a rate of 11 percent a year. These numbers have been growing since about the year 2000, when telecommuting became a viable option for many.

Timothy Golden, a management professor at Rensselaer Polytechnics Institute, and the man who conducted this study says that the health and morale benefits for those with flexible work arrangements or those who telecommute are high. However, their co-workers left at the office are likely to be dissatisfied and leave their job because they find the workplace less enjoyable and feel less obligated to the company. They also find their work less personally fulfilling.

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

Golden thinks that those who make the organizational decisions in corporate environments should look at the broader impact of telecommuters on other employees. He thinks that employers may be able to reverse this problem by ensuring greater face-to-face contact between co-workers whenever all employees are in the office.


On the Net:

Society of Human Resource Management

Rensselaer Polytechnics Institute