Does More Telecommuting Equal More Office Unrest?
There’s was an article in Ars Technica referenced on Slashdot about how as more people in a given office work, it has a negative impact on those not telecomuting. Most of the studies on telecommuting focus on the person telecommuting, not on how it might afffect the other people in the office. The major points from the study are that in-office workers:
- took less satisfaction in their jobs;
- felt less of a relationship and obligation to their company as the number of telecommuters grew;
- felt they had fewer and weaker relationships;
- felt they had more work due to the difficulties telecommuting creates when finishing projects or building strong working relationships.
In a large, multinational corporation like Nokia, even for people who aren’t telecommuting, but working in an office several timezones away, it can feel a lot like dealing with telecommuters. A lot of the same challenges are there, whether they are a few miles or a few thousand miles away. In that kind of environment, telecommuting is almost easier.
It is important to occasionally have some facetime with those people in either different offices or who telecommute. Even if you don’t have a spceific “agenda” in mind, just being around to build up those interpersonal relationships makes it much easier to work together despite the distance. Regular trips to the office has been a large part of why I have been so successful in my job despite being 700 miles away from the office.
So does large-scale telecommuting equal more office unrest? I don’t think so–provided the time is put in on a regular basis to build the team’s trust and interpersonal relationships. Because even though we go to work to work, we’re all social beings at the end of the day. Social currency can go a long way towards working through difficult issues or times.