Telecommuting is Beneficial for Employees and Employers

November 20, 2007 ( - Psychologists who examined 20 years of research on flexible work arrangements concluded telecommuting is a win-win for employees and employers.

A ScienceDaily news release on the study, Telecommuting Has Mostly Positive Consequences For Employees And Employers, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, said the study found telecommuting results in higher employee morale and job satisfaction and lower employee stress and turnover.

Lead author Ravi S. Gajendran said in the news release, “Autonomy is a major factor in worker satisfaction and this rings true in our analysis. We found that telecommuters reported more job satisfaction, less motivation to leave the company, less stress, improved work-family balance, and higher performance ratings by supervisors.”

Gajendran and researcher David A. Harrison, PhD from Pennsylvania State University found that telecommuting has more positive than negative effects on employees and employers. Aside from more freedom in their work arrangement, the employees in their study reported that telecommuting was beneficial for managing the conflicting demands of work and family.

Telecommuters generally reported their relationships with their managers and coworkers did not suffer from telecommuting, however employees who worked away from their offices for three or more days a week said their relationships with coworkers worsened. Managers who oversaw telecommuters indicated the telecommuters’ performance was not negatively affected by telecommuting, and those who telecommuted said they did not believe their careers were likely to suffer from doing so.

Telecommuting seemed to be more beneficial to women workers. The authors found that study samples with greater proportions of women showed they received higher performance ratings from their supervisors and their career prospects improved.

“Telecommuting has a clear upside: small but favorable effects on perceived autonomy, work-family conflict, job satisfaction, performance, turnover intent and stress,” the authors wrote, according to ScienceDaily. “Contrary to expectations in both academic and practitioner literatures, telecommuting has no straightforward, damaging effects on the quality of workplace relationships or perceived career prospects.”

The findings were based on a meta-analysis of 46 studies of telecommuting involving 12,833 employees. The researchers defined telecommuting as “an alternative work arrangement in which employees perform tasks elsewhere that are normally done in a primary or central workplace, for at least some portion of their work schedule, using electronic media to interact with others inside and outside the organization.”

The typical telecommuter examined in the analysis was a manager or a professional from the information technology or sales and marketing department of a firm, and the average age of a telecommuter was 39.