Reaney (2012) claims that one in five workers around the globe telecommute frequently and nearly 10 percent work from home every day. According to research conducted in … employers have found that having their employees work from home is not only financially beneficial but also a more efficient way of working. Reasearch also showed that in the past 8 years there has been 35 percent growth of telecommuters. Due to this recent growth I find it highly important to look into whether telecommuting leads to an increase in productivity. After in-depth analysis of this topic I found that this is not the case. Although telecommuting has increased by 35% in the past few years, research clearly shows that the effects of telecommuting generally cause a decrease in worker productivity. Employers should take the many influencing factors such as gender, the type of task, the necessary resources employees personality, into consideration when implementing telecommuting. According to the sterile experiment conducted by Dutcher (2012) with a piece-rate pay scheme, dull tasks out of the workplace reduced the productivity of the worker by 6-10 percent. So there is a negative effect on productivity when the task is dull. However the productivity of creative tasks is increased by 11-20 percent. Therefore telecommuting does has a positive effect on the productivity when the task is creative, but negative when an task is dull. Belanger (1999) studied the productivity of telecommuting according to gender, he found that on average more females in a company telecommute than males. Therefore he concluded that on average females’ productivity outside the office is relatively higher than the productivity of males. Belanger (1999) concludes that productivity of telecommuting is only higher than the productivity of employees in the office when the assigned task is creative and the employee is female. However the suitability of an employee for being a telecommuter should also be taken into consideration. According to Adams (2011) analysis, a manager should look at relevant characteristics of an employee and his/her work ethics. Employees who are approved for telecommuting have earned trust from their managers and were therefore specifically selected. We can conclude that not all employees are suitable for being a telecommuter. The employer should also take employees’ personality into consideration. Another factor that is considered to have a negative effect on productivity is the fact that working from home also means not having all of the necessary resources to successfully complete tasks. Consequently time is lost obtaining these resources, which results in less time spent working productively. Furthermore cooperating and consulting with co-workers is not possible at home, which makes it more difficult for the worker to complete a task when facing a problem. Time will be lost trying to solve the problem all on his own and this will lead to stress and job dissatisfaction. The workplace also has to adjust a great deal to telecommuters, such as extra managerial supervision and extra support from colleagues. These adjustments in turn cause a decline in productivity. However working from home saves employees travel time, which should result in working more hours and thus being more productive. Telecommuters can also work around their appointments, by having flexible working hours. White (2009) suggests that when you begin telecommuting, you should not fall into the trap of letting people pull you away from what you need to accomplish during the time you have set aside to work. You will likely have to spend some time explaining your new role to the people in your life, making it clear that when you are working from home, you must focus on accomplishing work related tasks. Furthermore a lot of people are regularly distracted by social media, for example Facebook and twitter. Considering that nowadays there are many entertainment activities, which can be done at home. Without supervision of a boss or a manager the productivity of a telecommuter can decrease.
The findings show that telecommuting does not always increase the productivity of employees. Several factors should be taken into consideration when implementing telecommuting. Belanger (1991) found that men’s productivity outside the office is relatively lower than at the office. Employer should therefore take factors such as personality of the employee into greater consideration than women when assigning an employee to telecommuting. A telecommuter should be highly dependent, professional, trustworthy and disciplined. Moreover the employer should be able to divide the kind of task in dull task or creative task because research by Dutcher have shown that dull tasks decrease productivity, while creative tasks increase the productivity of the telecommuter with 11-20 percent. Creative tasks need more resources in general to fulfil them. By not having all of the necessary resources at home, more time will be lost obtaining these resources, which results in less productive working. Therefore the employer should only assign tasks to the telecommuter when all necessary resources can be obtained at home. When not taking all these factors into consideration, the productivity of the telecommuter will be negative affected. These are some of the internal factors that the employer should take into consideration when implementing telecommuting.
Adams, S 2011, ‘Telecommuting can boost productivity and job performance’, Journal of Business and Psychology, Vol. 58, no. 1, pp. 34.
Belanger, 1999, 'An Experimental Study of Social and Psychological Aspects of Teleworking', Industrial Management and Data Systems, pp 214-218. (ABI/INFORM database)
Dutcher, E 2012, ‘The effects of telecommuting on productivity: An experimental examination. The role of dull and creative tasks’ Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, vol. 84, no. 1, pp. 355-363.
Reaney, P 2012, 'Analyzing the Effects of Telecommuting Practices of Professional Staff on the cultural Strength of an Organization', ProQuest UMI Dissertations Publishing, Vol 70, (JSTOR Database)
White, A 2009, 'Telecommuting's Impact on Corporate Culture and Individual Workers', S.A.M. Advanced Management Journal, Vol 64, pp 4-10, (ABI/NFORM Database)