The Grass is Always Greener

NetworkWorld has an article by Ann Bednarz discussing a recent study by a management professor in the Lally School of Management & Technology at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y.,Teleworkers Can Damage Main Office Work Environment.

The study looked at 240 professional employees in a mid-sized company and found that the more teleworkers there were, the unhappier those who are left in the office tend to be. Here’s what Golden said,

“While reasons for the adverse impact on non-teleworker’s satisfaction are varied, it potentially could be due to coworker’s perceptions that they have decreased flexibility and a higher workload, and the ensuing greater frustration that comes with coordinating in an environment with more extensive co-worker telework.”

“In addition, it may be that with a greater prevalence of teleworkers in a work unit, non-teleworkers may find it less personally fulfilling to conduct their work due to the increased obstacles to building and maintaining effective and rewarding co-worker relationships.”

To which I say, amidst a rolling of the eyes and a crossing of the arms, “Pshaw!” Unhappy workers are unhappy workers. Those employees who feel that teleworkers might not be pulling their share of the company load would feel that way even if those co-workers were typing away in the cubicle right next to theirs.

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Telecommuters have some great flexibility but it comes at a price. Those working inside the office with more structured hours have less flexibility but get a lot of face time and socialization while at work (not to mention they often have an edge when it comes to promotions).

Teleworkers who want to remain teleworkers often work much harder to ‘prove’ they are a worthwhile asset to a company and assure everyone that they are hard-working and trustworthy. Telecommuters are judged more on their work output than their attendance. Office folks don’t have those hurdles. Sometimes it’s enough for them to just show up at the office and appear busy.


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One comment

  1. There is another interesting study recently done – “The Good, the Bad, and the Unknown About Telecommuting – Meta-Analysis of Psychological Mediators and Individual Consequences” written by Ravi S. Gajendran and David A. Harrison from Pennsylvania State University. It was published late last year in the Journal of Applied Psychology. It is well written and brings several other observations to the discussion.

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