Research suggests that employees that telecommute tend to have higher job satisfaction relative to their office-based counterparts. This is likely a result of the flexibility that telecommuting affords employees, but new research shows that these benefits have unintended consequences that employees and employers should be mindful of. Specifically, the research shows that remote employees may also have a harder time separating work from their personal lives and can become socially isolated. Since telecommuters work from home, professional and personal lives overlap, making it more difficult for employees to “turn off” and detach from work.
The researchers found that telecommuters are more likely to worry about job problems than office workers and often work longer hours with nearly 40% of telecommuters saying they often work extra time to get the job done, compared with 24% of office employees. Employers should understand how telecommuters may find it difficult to draw boundaries between their work and personal lives. To combat the inability to turn off, employers should recommend telecommuters to have set boundaries like specific hours when they work, when they have their cell phone on, or when they will answer e-mails. However, rather than have the employees set these boundaries, employers should proactively have managers work with employees to set them together.
Employers should also help telecommuters fight isolation. This can be done by incorporating video conferencing, periodic in-person office visits, and through digital engagement programs that all employees can participate in and benefit from. Team-based wellness challenges are a great example of digital engagement programs that can help fight isolation amongst a remote workforce.
To end on a positive note in regard to telecommuting, check out the stats below from the study.
- Seven out of 10 remote workers said they would not move to another company for higher pay, compared with six out of 10 brick-and-mortar employees
- Telecommuters also were likelier than office workers to report their jobs as more pleasurable and stimulating, and they were significantly more enthusiastic about their jobs