Study Finds Telecommuters More Ethical

August 15, 2011 ( – In a survey of more than 200 firms, the Ethisphere Institute and Jones Lang LaSalle found employees who work from home commit less misconduct on the job than peers who head into the office each day

According to Dow Jones News, 68% of respondents indicated they allow their employees to work from home on a regular basis. Eleven percent said work-from-home employees had committed ethics violations in the past two years, but 36% reported visible ethics violations in employees who don’t work from home regularly, and 43% reported non-visible violations for this group, such as expense account fraud, bribery, or social media misuse.   

“You can see why someone working from home wouldn’t get embroiled in some of the things that lead to trouble,” said Mark Ohringer, executive vice president and global general counsel for Jones Lang LaSalle, a real-estate services firm, according to the news report. For example, the opportunity to tell offensive jokes or harass people diminishes when someone isn’t in the office, he said.   

Alex Brigham, executive director at the Ethisphere Institute, a research organization dedicated to matters of business ethics, corporate social responsibility, anticorruption and sustainability, said it may be the employee’s eagerness to maintain his or her work-from-home privilege that makes that person extra careful to comply with a company’s ethics policy.   

“In terms of the privilege of working from home, they didn’t want to put it at risk because they didn’t want to get called back into the office,” Brigham said.  

There’s also the thinking that if an employer trusts an employee to work out of sight of the manager, that employee is apt to be more conscientious about following the rules.   

“Empowering people and treating them like professionals and adults leads to better behavior. If they feel like they’re being treated well and trusted, that’s the treatment they give back to the company,” Ohringer added.