Having worked from home for years, I hear many arguments both for and against telecommuting. One of the common arguments against working from home is that employees are disconnected and isolated, which leads to a lack of attachment to the workplace and ultimately a lack of productivity. Previously I could only provide anecdotal data as a rebuttal, but now I can refer to a study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM).
Results from the study were published in the June issue of Communication Monographs, a National Communication Association publication. Key findings include:
More communication does not lead to an increased level of workplace identification for teleworkers
Office workers reported higher stress levels due to in-office interruptions
Teleworkers reported increased stress levels with communications-based interruptions
Phone calls were associated with lower stress levels with both groups
It appears that more communication with the workplace is actually counterproductive for teleworkers. According to Kathryn Fonner, an assistant professor of communication at UWM and co-author of the study, “It is often assumed that teleworkers need a lot of communication and contact with the organization in order to diminish their sense of distance and to develop a sense of belonging. But we found that the more teleworkers communicated with others, the more stressed they felt due to interruptions, and this was negatively associated with their identification with the organization.” Source: Newswise
I know that I am more stressed on days where I have several phone calls or face-to-face meetings scheduled.
If you telework, do you feel less productive on days where you have more interactions with your main office?
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