Working Remotely Alleviates More Stress Than It Creates

Employees who spend most of their working week as telecommuters have greater job satisfaction than people who are primarily office workers, according to a study from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM).

Kathryn Fonner and Michael compared the advantages and disadvantages of the two work arrangements and found the main benefit of teleworking for at least three days a week to be decreased work-life conflict. While poor workplace communication is often cited as the biggest disadvantage of telework, respondents reported this as being of minimal importance and, although they exchanged information with others less frequently than office-based workers, they reported similar timely access to important work-related information.

According to Kathryn Fother the results of the study suggest multiple reasons why high job satisfaction and teleworking are linked. Specifically, remote working tends to shield employees from distracting and stressful aspects of the workplace, including office politics, interruptions, endless meetings and information overload.

"Our findings emphasize the advantages of restricted face-to-face interaction, and also highlight the need for organizations to identify and address the problematic and unsatisfying issues inherent in collocated work environments," said Fonner. "With lower stress and fewer distractions, employees can prevent work from seeping into their personal lives."
Kathryn Fonner added that, as well as introducing teleworking, organizations can consider a number of other strategies to increase job satisfaction including:
  • Limiting meetings and mass emails
  • Streamlining communication by creating an accessible repository of information
  • Designating times and spaces for office-based employees to work uninterrupted
  • 'Creating a supportive climate where employees can register concerns without fear of retaliation'
  • Encouraging employees to disconnect themselves from work communication when their day is finished
The study is reported in the November 2010 issue of the Journal of Applied Communication Research

Previous Article - Who Telecommutes?

Rising gas prices have resulted in many professionals considering telecommuting as an economical work option, but spending too much time working from home can mean saying goodbye to the corner office.
Surveys developed in 2006 by OfficeTeam, a leading staffing service specializing in placement of administrative professionals, were conducted by an independent research firm and include responses from 100 senior executives in Canada and 150 in the USA.

They found 32 per cent of Canadian respondents and 43 per cent of US respondents said telecommuting is best suited for staff-level employees, compared with 28 per cent and 18 per cent respectively who felt telecommuting is most beneficial for managers. In addition, more than half of Canadian respondents and more than two-thirds of US respondents said senior executives at their firms rarely or never telecommute.

When asked, 'At which level do you think telecommuting programs are most beneficial?' participants responded:
Administrative support
Don't know/no answer
Canada (%)
USA (%)

When asked, 'Overall, how frequently do senior executives at your firm telecommute?' participants responded:
Very frequently
Somewhat frequently
Don't know/no answer
Canada (%)
USA (%)
According to Diane Domeyer, executive director of OfficeTeam, it is often easier for staff-level employees to telecommute because their work can be performed autonomously. However, even those people who work from home need to spend time in the office.

Diane Domeyer added: "Effective management requires plenty of 'face time' with employees. Supervisors should have an open-door policy, and that means being available to staff who need guidance with projects. Employees who work from home must ensure that being out of sight doesn't also mean being out of mind for promotions, team projects and plum assignments."

HRM Guide provided this article


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