- While telecommuting and flexible work are becoming more common (and praised), a new study from researchers at George Mason and Boston College found that high levels of offsite work can have “a highly negative and contagious effect on the office environment,” Quartz reported.
- In this study, broad use of telecommuting by a group of employees essentially caused a sort of cascading effect throughout their teammates. Fewer and fewer people came to the office for work, to the point where the value of coming into the office wasn’t worth it to many employees.
- The research only follows one company with 100,000 employees worldwide that “thoroughly embraces” telecommuting. However, it’s an interesting case study in the long-term effects of heavy telecommuting programs.
The study involved qualitative interviews with employees as well as a larger survey of hundreds of employees at the company “to nail down these qualitative findings with data,” Quartz reports. The strongest reason people stopped coming in? Everyone else was staying home.
“I miss having at least one day where I know I am going to come into the office and I am going to sit down with my colleagues and talk about their experiences,” one employee told the researchers.
Many of the workers cited multiple pluses to working at home, such as cutting down on commuting time and getting rid of distractions. Family demands also remained a reason that many workers opted to stay home. But a decreased value in office culture constituted a large part of why many didn’t come in.
While telecommuting continues to be touted as a great solution for many workers (and for good reason), this study presents something to consider when instituting a telecommuting policy.