Telecommuting: The Affects and Effects on Non-Telecommuters

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Virginia Tech

Telecommuting is a significant workplace innovation that allows an increasing portion of the work force to work from home or work at a location remote from the central workplace at least one-day a week. Previous studies (Bélanger, 1999; Pinsonneault & Boisvert, 2001; Potter, 2003) have outlined that the reasons for the growth of this phenomenon are found in its perceived benefits for both the telecommuter and their employer: improved productivity, organizational loyalty and belonging, job satisfaction, savings of office space, increased flexibility, improved employee morale and employee retention and attraction.

Telecommuting literature has provided models and theories about telecommuting concentrating mainly on the telecommuter's experiences and perspective. However, the ramifications of this practice have a broad range of potential impacts not only on the telecommuter, but also other parties in the work unit. Despite the tremendous growth in telecommuting, relatively few empirical studies (Duxbury & Neufield, 1999; Golden, 2007; Watson-Fritz, Narasimhan, and Rhee, 1998) have directly examined the creeping affect and effect of the telecommuting challenges on others in the work unit. Few studies (Bailey & Kurland, 2002; Cooper & Kurland, 2002; Golden, 2007; McCloskey & Igbaria, 2003) have investigated it from the non-telecommuters' perspective and how it affects their work outcomes and their attitudes More importantly, no earlier studies were found that had ever investigated the effects of the telecommuting arrangement on the non-telecommuter from the organizational justice perspective, and how this affects the non-telecommuter's job satisfaction. This study empirically examined the affects and effects of telecommuting on non-telecommuters, and within that context, examined the extent to which organizational justice perspectives affected job satisfaction. Major findings of the study revealed that : (a) the accessibility of the telecommuter is key, even if they are working offsite, (b) job type/position plays an important role in the selection process or in some non-telecommuters' decision to opt out of telecommuting, (c) there was lack of awareness of a formal telecommuting policy or understanding of how the policy was applied, (d) selection procedures can be biased and unfair, and (e) some non-telecommuters experienced envy and jealousy, frustration, resentment, anxiety, unfairness and anger towards telecommuting colleagues.

The results of the study also revealed that interpersonal/interactional, and distributive justice both explained the statistically significant variance in non-telecommuters' job satisfaction. However, interpersonal/interactional justice (which focuses on the quality of interpersonal treatment individuals receive) explained a stronger statistically significant variance in the job satisfaction of non-telecommuters.

telecommuting, distributive justice, procedural justice, job satisfaction, interpersonal/interactional justice