There’s no denying that telecommuting is now a well-entrenched strategy at many companies, both large and small. But despite its widespread acceptance, many organizations continue to struggle to get it right.
No surprise, then, that there’s been more than a few studies on the subject over the years, including one just published in Psychological Science in the Public Interest, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
The research and resulting article—titled “How Effective Is Telecommuting? Assessing the Status of Our Scientific Findings”—suggests that, like many things in life, telecommuting works best when it’s practiced to a “moderate degree.”
In their article, the researchers—Tammy D. Allen of the University of South Florida, Timothy D. Golden of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Kristen M. Shockley of City University of New York—note that telecommuting is rarely an “all-or-nothing work practice” and “the frequency with which work is done away from the central office is likely to make a difference .”
For example, the research finds that job satisfaction is highest among those who telecommute a moderate amount, compared to those who telecommute either a small amount or more extensively.
What’s more, the researchers write, “individuals who spent more time telecommuting exhibited lower job performance as a result of professional isolation than did those who spent little time telecommuting.”
They also report that autonomy plays a significant role in the success or failure of an initiative.
Workers who have more autonomy and more control over telework and when they complete their tasks, they say, seem to benefit more from telecommuting arrangements than those who don’t.
In a commentary accompanying the report, Families and Work Institute Vice President of Research Kenneth Matos and President and Co-Founder Ellen Galinsky note that the research “provides a powerful blueprint for practitioners to maximize the positive impacts of telecommuting while minimizing its drawbacks and understanding the nuances of what makes their telecommuting programs succeed or fail.”
I suppose a key word here is “nuances.”
As this latest research makes clear, employers would be well served to remember that the “devil is in the details” when it comes to crafting an effective telecommuting program.Twitter It!