Saturday, January 12, 2008

Current State of Telecommuters

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When they finally connected with those specifics, they will stay connected as team regardless of the distance, the technology and the project culture.

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Telecommuting not so great for those left in office

[ Reuters ]

Telecommuting may boost morale, and cut stress, but it can have the opposite effect on those left behind in the office, according to a new study.

When a number of their co-workers toil away from the office by using computers, cell phones, or other electronic equipment, those who do not telecommute are more likely to be dissatisfied with their job and leave the company, said Timothy Golden, a management professor at
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Telecommuting has been a growing trend in the United States since about 2000. About 37 percent of U.S.-based and international companies now offer flexible work arrangements, with the number of those programs growing at a rate of 11 percent per year, according to the Society of Human Resource Management.

Several studies have touted the health and morale benefits for flexible workers, but Golden's research suggests that their co-workers tend to find the workplace less enjoyable, have fewer emotional ties to co-workers, and generally feel less obligated to the organization.

"While reasons for the adverse impact on non-teleworkers are varied, it possibly is due to co-workers' 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.

He added that with a greater prevalence of telecommuters in a work unit, non-telecommuters find it less personally fulfilling to do their work.

But by ensuring greater face-to-face contact between co-workers when all employees are in the office and granting greater job autonomy, employers may be able to counter these problems, according to the study published in the journal Human Relations.

"There's little doubt that work life impacts one's role in the family. However, organizational decision makers need to take into account the broader impact of telework on others in the office," Golden said.

He studied a sample of 240 professional employees from a medium-size company.

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Story Copyright (c) 2008 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.


chessiakelley said...

Perhaps the perception of less flexibility cannot be helped, but for those that feel alienated from their fellow telecommuter co-workers and feel that they are doing more work, it seems communication will be the key. If the telecommuter is motivated, I feel very skeptical that they would work less (in fact, several end up working more in the hope to 'prove' they are not shirking)

We have the communication tools for relationships to build, but managers must educate and institute the technology. One great service I hvae been owrking for lately is called ooVoo. It is a free video messaging service that can host 6 person video conference calls (works great bc of low bandwidth), as well as IM, text, audio chat, and send video emails. It encourages communication and brainstorming with colleagues from different bases.

When I started telecommuting I was also skeptical at first, but after my managers showed me how communication was much easier online, now I am great friends with those i have never technically 'met'.

Collaboration360 Consultants said...

Chessiakelley, Thank very much for your view on telecommuting. Glad your experience has been positive. Technology is a part of the answer for a virtual project team. To collaborate effectively as a team, a strategic process is needed. Thanks again for coming by. Please visit again.