Telecommuting

Telecommuting arrangements allow employees to work outside of a central workplace, using technology to perform tasks and interact with others inside and outside the organization. Work may take place in the employee’s home, in telework centers, remote offices, or other locations. Telecommuting arrangements can be part-time or full-time and may be formal or informal. Telecommuting is sometimes referred to as remote work or flexible working arrangements ().

Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)

  • Increased job satisfaction

  • Improved employee performance

  • Improved work-life balance

Other Potential Beneficial Outcomes

  • Improved health outcomes

  • Reduced stress

  • Improved mental health

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is some evidence that telecommuting improves employee performance, job satisfaction (, ), and work-life balance (). However, additional evidence is needed to confirm effects.

Telecommuting can decrease stress among participating employees, increase perceived autonomy (), and may reduce turnover (, ). Telecommuting can improve relationships with supervisors, particularly for women. Overall, telecommuting does not affect relationships with coworkers (); however, high intensity telecommuting can degrade those relationships (, ), and may increase coworkers’ turnover intentions ().

Overall, telecommuting appears to reduce conflict between work and family responsibilities; the more time spent telecommuting the greater the reduction in conflict (). However, in some cases, telecommuting may increase the likelihood that work and family interfere with each other ().

Telecommuting a few days a week may decrease risk factors for poor health ().

 While telecommuters typically perceive no change in career prospects (), a China-based study suggests a decline in telecommuters’ performance-based promotions despite improvements in performance ().

Impact on Disparities

No impact on disparities likely

Implementation Examples

Between 59%-88% of employers are estimated to offer some form of telecommuting (). The United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the General Services Administration (GSA) provide extensive information to support federal agencies that implement telework programs (US OPM-Telework). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is an example of a government agency that has official policies in place outlining available options. (US FDA-Worklife).

Implementation Resources

US OPM-Telework - United States Office of Personnel Management (US OPM). Telework.gov.

US OPM-Telework solutions - United States Office of Personnel Management (US OPM). Telework Solutions.

Citations - Evidence

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

Higgins 2014* - Higgins C, Duxbury L, Julien M. The relationship between work arrangements and work-family conflict. Work. 2014;48(1):69-81.

Henke 2016* - Henke RM, Benevent R, Schulte P, et al. The effects of telecommuting intensity on employee health. American Journal of Health Promotion. 2016;30(8):604-612.

Gajendran 2007* - Gajendran RS, Harrison DA. The good, the bad, and the unknown about telecommuting: Meta-analysis of psychological mediators and individual consequences. Journal of Applied Psychology. 2007;92(6):1524-1541.

Golden 2007* - Golden T. Co-workers who telework and the impact on those in the office: Understanding the implications of virtual work for co-worker satisfaction and turnover intentions. Human Relations. 2007;60(11):1641-1667.

Bloom 2015* - Bloom N, Liang J, Roberts J, Ying ZJ. Does working from home work? Evidence from a Chinese experiment. The Quarterly Journal of Economics. 2015;130(1):165-218.

Citations - Implementation Examples

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

US FDA-Worklife - US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA). Working at FDA. Quality of worklife.

US OPM-Telework - United States Office of Personnel Management (US OPM). Telework.gov.

Allen 2015a* - Allen TD, Golden TD, Shockley KM. How effective is telecommuting? Assessing the status of our scientific findings. Psychological Science in the Public Interest. 2015;16(2):40-68.

Date Last Updated

Feb 5, 2018