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Abstract

Purpose The purpose of this paper is to investigate the relationships between theoretically grounded telework factors and various individual and organizational outcomes of telework (overall satisfaction with telework, perceived advantages of telework, career opportunities and self-reported productivity). Design/methodology/approach Based on a literature review, ten telework factors that may affect individual and organizational telework outcomes were identified and empirically tested using the survey data of 128 teleworkers exercising different telework intensity and representing various sectors of the economy. Findings The bundle of theoretically selected variables explained a significant part of the variance of telework outcomes. Reduced communication with co-workers, supervisor’s trust and support, suitability of the working place at home were found to be the most important telework factors impacting different telework outcomes. Higher self-reported productivity was related to reduced time in communicating with co-workers, a suitable working place at home and the possibility to take care of family members when teleworking. Practical implications This study provides insights about the management of telework in organizations by highlighting the factors that promote the satisfaction, productivity and perceived career opportunities of teleworkers. Originality/value This paper challenges the results of previous research on the factors related with telework and its outcomes. Based on the job demands-resources theory, the authors identified the factors that serve as resources in generating positive telework outcomes, and the factors increasing job demands and reducing satisfaction with telework. (https://www.emeraldinsight.com/eprint/fAfbU8WaF4ak36Xzgdrh/full)
Nakrošienė, A., Bučiūnienė, I., & Goštautaitė, B. (2019). Working from home: characteristics and
outcomes of telework. International Journal of Manpower.
Abstract
Purpose – Telework is considered as an alternative way to organize work. The purpose of this study is to
investigate the relationships between theoretically grounded telework factors and various individual and
organizational outcomes of telework (overall satisfaction with telework, perceived advantages of telework,
career opportunities, and self-reported productivity).
Design/methodology/approach Based on a literature review, ten telework factors that may affect
individual and organizational telework outcomes were identified and empirically tested using the survey
data of 128 teleworkers exercising different telework intensity and representing various sectors of the
economy.
Findings The bundle of theoretically selected variables explained a significant part of the variance of
telework outcomes. Reduced communication with co-workers, supervisor’s trust and support, suitability of
the working place at home were found to be the most important telework factors impacting different
telework outcomes. Higher self-reported productivity was related to reduced time in communicating with
co-workers, a suitable working place at home, and the possibility to take care of family members when
teleworking.
Practical implications – This study provides insights about the management of telework in organizations
by highlighting the factors that promote the satisfaction, productivity, and perceived career opportunities of
teleworkers.
Originality/value This paper challenges the results of previous research on the factors related with
telework and its outcomes. Based on the Job Demands-Resources theory, we identified the factors that
serve as resources in generating positive telework outcomes, and the factors increasing job demands and
reducing satisfaction with telework.
Keywords – Telework, satisfaction with telework, telework factors, telework outcomes.
Paper type – Research paper.
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1. Introduction
Information technology has become an integral part of the office environment,
and the physical location of a working place has been gradually losing its importance.
According to Gallup’s annual Work and Education poll, only 9% of US teleworkers
worked from home using a computer in 1995, but by 2015 this number had increased to
37% (Gallup, 2015). The average number of teleworkers in the European Union (EU)
Member States is considerably lower, amounting to 17% in 2015 and ranges from 7% in
Italy to 37% in Denmark (Eurofound, 2017). In Central and Eastern European countries,
the corresponding telework figure is lower than the EU average at 14%. The rate of
teleworking in Lithuania is 13%, and this is similar to the average of other post-soviet
countries. Despite the appropriate technological development of information
technologies in these countries, the telework adoption is slower than expected due to
organizational factors, such as lower trust of managers and people’s needs to meet
other people face-to-face (Eurofound, 2017; Vilhelmson and Thulin, 2016).
Telework is defined as work that is performed from different locations (such as
home) that enables workers to access to their labor activities by the use of information
and communication technologies (Nilles, 1997; Perez et al., 2003). It has been
considered as an alternative way of organizing work. By offering the possibility to work
anywhere and anytime, telework has attracted the attention of both academics and
practitioners. It has been seen as a win-win scenario for employees and employers,
making it possible to choose from different talents, to reduce real estate costs, to
motivate employees, and to maintain employee work–family balance (Madsen, 2003).
Previous studies have revealed a number of multifaceted implications and
advantages of teleworking for individuals, organizations, and society (Perez et al., 2003).
These advantages include time planning freedom (Gurstein, 2001; Morgan, 2004);
increased autonomy (Harpaz, 2002); reduced informal communication (Khalifa and
Davison, 2000); increased family and leisure time (Ammons and Markham, 2004;
Johnson et al., 2007); lower stress (Fonner and Roloff, 2010); improved productivity
(Bailey and Kurland, 2002; Fonner and Roloff, 2010; Golden and Veiga, 2008; Martinez-
Sanchez et al., 2008; Tremblay and Genin, 2007); increased job satisfaction (Gurstein,
2001; Pratt, 1999); reduced commuting time (Tremblay and Thomsin, 2012); reduced
travel and other costs (Morgan, 2004); increased employment opportunities for women
with children, students and disabled persons (Morgan, 2004); and reduced traffic
congestion and air pollution (Handy and Mokhtarian, 1996).
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Increased employee productivity when teleworking is one of the most important
arguments for organizations considering the introduction of teleworking as a work
arrangement. Teleworkers can be more productive because they can work during their
most productive time and be less distracted by co-workers (Golden and Veiga, 2008;
Martinez-Sanchez et al., 2008; Tremblay and Genin, 2007). The growing scope of
telework has, however, created its own challenges. Information technologies weaken
face-to-face communication with colleagues, which is an important source of social
interaction (Ammons and Markham, 2004; Baruch, 2001; Cooper and Kurland, 2002;
Wilson and Greenhill, 2004). Teleworkers find it difficult to be aware of organizational
values and goals (Madsen, 2003), they are less visible and feel weaker management
support (Cooper and Kurland, 2002). Consequently, this lower visibility reduces the
career opportunities of teleworkers (Khalifa and Davison, 2000).
The possibility of working from home has traditionally been considered as the
means of increasing an individual’s work–life balance, because telework provides an
opportunity to take care of family members (Ammons and Markham, 2004; Johnson et
al., 2007). In contrast, frequent interruptions from home, working longer hours or more
days per week negatively influence an individual’s work–life balance (Bailey and
Kurland, 2002; Johnson et al., 2007). Consequently, combining work and family
obligations has become one of the most important challenges for teleworkers. This might
have a negative influence on employees’ satisfaction with telework and their overall
productivity. Although previous studies have shown that teleworkers experience higher
job satisfaction (Pratt, 1999), antecedents of satisfaction have been ambiguous and
under-researched.
Literature on telework reveals that employees worry that their career prospects
can be reduced when teleworking because of reduced visibility (Khalifa and Davison,
2000; Maruyama and Tietze, 2012) or social isolation (Golden and Veiga, 2008; Madsen,
2003). However, women teleworkers indicated their ability to remain visible to managers,
co-workers and clients because of the teleworking possibility (Schreiber, 1999).
Teleworking is perceived as a major advantage for those employees, both women and
men, who do not want to put their full career on hold and who want to spend more time
with family (Madsen, 2003).
The absence of organizational theories in telework research has been
highlighted as the main difficulty “in identifying and explaining what happens when
people telework” (Bailey and Kurland, 2002, p. 394). To theoretically classify factors
related to telework as potential job resources or demands influencing telework
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outcomes, we used the Job Demands-Resources theory (Demerouti et al., 2001). Based
on previous research, we identified the following factors of telework that can influence
satisfaction with telework, self-reported productivity and career opportunities; we also
classified these factors as job demands and resources - time-planning skills (Gurstein,
2001; Morgan, 2004); need for communication with co-workers (Ammons and Markham,
2004; Baruch, 2001; Cooper and Kurland, 2002; Wilson and Greenhill, 2004); possibility
to work from home in case of sickness or feeling unwell (Ammons and Markham, 2004;
Johnson et al., 2007); supervisor’s trust (Cooper and Kurland, 2002); supervisor’s
support (Lapierre et al., 2015); possibility to save on travel expenses (Morgan, 2004);
possibility to take care of family members (Ammons and Markham, 2004; Johnson et al.,
2007); suitability of the working place (De Croon et al., 2005); possibility to access the
organization’s documents from home (Cooper and Kurland, 2002; Wiesenfeld et al.,
2001); possibility to work during the most productive time (Tremblay and Genin, 2007).
Furthermore, social-demographic characteristics, such as gender, age, number
of children, marital status, and organizational tenure have been found as important
factors related to the above-mentioned outcomes and we therefore, included them in our
analysis.
Overall, the previous studies on factors related to productivity, satisfaction with
telework, and perceived career opportunities of teleworkers have been sporadic,
inconsistent and contradictory. Our study contributes to telework research by answering
the call for theory-building efforts (Bailey and Kurland, 2002) and investigating
relationships between theoretically grounded telework factors and the diverse individual
and organizational outcomes of telework (overall satisfaction with telework, perceived
advantages of telework, career prospects, and self-reported productivity).
2. Telework concept
Telework is a broad and complex phenomenon that lacks a commonly accepted
definition. The work done from places other than a traditional office space has been
defined as telework, telecommuting, virtual work, home-based teleworking, mobile
telework, remote work, etc. (Bailey and Kurland, 2002; Nilles, 1997). Therefore, the
absence of shared understanding of work performed outside of the conventional working
place creates difficulties to studying this phenomenon.
The concept of telework depends on different telework characteristics (Madsen,
2003). Telework or a teleworker can be defined considering (1) telework intensity (how
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often?) according to the proportion of time an employee works from a place other than a
traditional office space; (2) telework timework (when?) whether teleworking occurs
during traditional or non-traditional working hours; and (3) telework place (where?)
(Nakrosiene and Butkeviciene, 2016). It is assumed that these telework characteristics
can have an influence on different telework outcomes (Golden, 2008).
Telework intensity differs according to the amount of telework time that ranges
from full-time telework to part-time telework (Gajendran and Harrison, 2007; Perez et al.,
2003). Full-time telework occurs when a teleworker works from home or place other than
an office using telecommunication technologies all the time. Part-time telework happens
when a teleworker works partly from home, partly from the office or from a client site. Ad
hoc telework takes place when a person works from home only occasionally, e.g. only in
case of sickness or unplanned child care.
Telework timework can be categorized according to whether or not a teleworker
works during traditional or non-traditional working hours. Individuals engaged in non-
traditional telework generally telework some of the day during regular working hours, but
also spend evenings or weekends teleworking in order to cover work that was not done
during the regular working hours (Towers et al., 2006).
According to Huws (1997), work that is partly based at home and partly at the
office is defined as multi-site telework. Work that is done fully from home and where a
teleworker has a work agreement for a single employer is defined as tele-home working
or work from home. Work that is done from home or from a place other than an office
and where a person has a work agreement with multiple employers is defined as
freelance telework. Work that is done mostly on a variety of different sites, like customer
premises using telecommunication technologies, is defined as mobile telework (Huws,
1997; Martinez-Sanchez et al., 2008). Mobile teleworkers are frequently on the move,
using information and communications technology to work from anywhere and
communicating with the office as necessary from each location. Salespeople, delivery
drivers, or investment bankers are examples of mobile teleworkers (Martinez-Sanchez
et al., 2008).
Our research focuses on those teleworkers who have employment contracts with
an organization and partly or fully work from home or place other than a traditional
working place during traditional or non-traditional working hours. The research does not
cover teleworkers working independently and having no permanent labor contracts with
organizations, such as freelancers, as our analysis measures the organizational
outcomes of telework.
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3. Theoretical grounding of telework factors and their linkage with telework
outcomes
In order to evaluate the effect of different telework factors on work outcomes, we
used the Job Demands Resources theory (Demerouti et al., 2001). According to the
theory, working conditions can be divided into job demands, such as physical workload,
time pressure, recipient contract, physical environment, shift work, and job resources,
such as feedback, rewards, job control, participation, job security, supervisor’s support.
Consequently, higher job demands lead to strain and health impairment, and higher
resources lead to higher levels of performance (Parker et al., 2017). Furthermore, higher
job resources increase motivation and productivity (Demerouti et al., 2001; Schaufeli
and Taris, 2014).
Time-planning skills. Time-planning skills and time-planning autonomy have been
indicated as important telework advantages in the existing research (Gurstein, 2001;
Morgan, 2004), especially for families with young children (Ammons and Markham,
2004). Increased autonomy raises satisfaction with work itself (Harpaz, 2002), which
leads to higher employee productivity (Morgan, 2004; Pratt, 1999). On the other hand,
teleworkers work longer hours compared to non-teleworkers (Hill and Martinson, 2008).
Previous studies have shown that teleworkers’ effectiveness depends on working at
peak efficiency hours (Baruch, 2000; Martin and MacDonnell, 2012). Therefore, in order
to increase productivity while working autonomously, good time-planning skills are
considered as an important resource (Harpaz, 2002).
According to the Job Demands-Resources theory (Demerouti et al., 2001), higher
time-planning skills can be treated as an important job resource decreasing time
pressure (as one of the job demands indicators and source of strains). Consequently,
this leads to higher productivity and satisfaction with telework.
Possibility to work during the most productive time. This factor is very closely
related to work autonomy, when an employee is able to decide when the most
productive time is, when they can start and finish work. Telework makes it possible to
establish a rhythm that best suits individual preferences because teleworkers have
greater control over their work situation (Tremblay and Genin, 2007). It can be assumed
that teleworking workplace distractions are also diminished, especially if they are
working alone at home.
Supervisor’s support and trust. Teleworkers are faced with lower visibility and
6
lower supervisor support (Cooper and Kurland, 2002). It is assumed that the more
teleworkers work from home, the less possibility they have of gaining support from
others at work (Lapierre et al., 2015), especially from their supervisors.
Successful teleworkers are able to develop trust in their own ability and to
increase relational trust from co-workers and supervisors at an early stage (Crisp and
Jarvenpaa, 2013; Makarius and Larson, 2017). Trust is a very important aspect of
working in virtual teams (Yakovleva et al., 2010) or full-time teleworking, as the
interactions with supervisors are mainly virtual ones. Therefore, teleworkers’ active
participation, timely responses, and delivery of agreed results are all very important
factors in building trust among the co-workers and their supervisors (Henttonen and
Blomqvist, 2005). Therefore, we assume that a supervisor’s trust and support are very
important resources for teleworkers related to perceived career opportunities and
satisfaction with telework (Welchans, 1996).
Reduced time for communication with co-workers. Social isolation and lack of
communication with colleagues have been indicated as the main disadvantages of
telework (Baruch, 2001; Wilson and Greenhill, 2004). Lack of informal communication
with colleagues and deficiency of social interaction decrease the organizational
identification of teleworkers and restrict identification with the organization’s values and
goals (Ammons and Markham, 2004; Cooper and Kurland, 2002). Teleworkers may
suffer from a sense of isolation from people at work (Bailey and Kurland, 2002). Also,
reduced communication with co-workers may be treated as a job demand leading to
lower job satisfaction and perceived career opportunities due to lower visibility. In
contrast, telework decreases irrelevant interactions with colleagues, which is indicated
as one of the main advantages of telework (Baruch, 2000; Martin and MacDonnell,
2012; Khalifa and Davison, 2000) that are associated with fewer interruptions (Bailey
and Kurland, 2002). It can be assumed that reduced communication with co-workers
offers additional time resources leading to higher productivity.
Possibility to take care of family members. The possibility to work from home on a
telework basis enables individuals to combine work with the ability to deal with family-
related issues (Ammons and Markham, 2004, Johnson et al., 2007) and helps balance
work–family time. We assume that the possibility to take care of children and other
family members (such as disabled parents) is a valuable resource for teleworkers and
leads to positive work outcomes: perceived advantages of telework and satisfaction with
telework.
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Possibility to work from home in case of sickness. The possibility to work from
home in case of sickness has been mentioned as an advantage for teleworkers
(Johnson et al., 2007). Being able to work from home in case of sickness can be
considered as an alternative to workplace presenteeism, which is defined as “attending
work while ill” (Johns, 2010, p. 521). It is probable that individuals who wish to fulfill their
work obligations under any circumstances may be less stressed because of the telework
possibility. Therefore, we consider this factor as an important resource that can increase
satisfaction with telework.
Suitability of the working place at home. Since a working place traditionally
reflects the status of an employee in an organization, telework diminishes this aspect.
According to De Croon et al. (2005), a strong relationship exists between working place
and employee effectiveness and health. An inappropriate working place has a negative
influence on employee effectiveness (Bailey and Kurland, 2002), whereas a well-
arranged working place can be considered an important productivity resource. According
to Morgeson and Humphrey (2006), work ergonomics and work conditions, such as
noise, temperature, and others, influence employee job satisfaction. We consider the
suitability of the working place at home as an important resource that increases
productivity and satisfaction with telework.
Possibility to access the organization’s documents from home. Poor access to
technology and documents have been found as one of the main disadvantages of
telework (Perez, et al., 2003). Telework has been found more successful in
organizations that provide teleworkers with appropriate technology and tools (Cooper
and Kurland, 2002; Wiesenfeld et al., 2001). Therefore, access to the organization’s
resources can be considered as an important resource increasing productivity and
satisfaction with telework.
Possibility to save on travel expenses. As teleworkers have reduced commuting
time to and from home, travel expenses are also reduced (Tremblay and Genin, 2007).
This possibility to save on travel expenses can also be a factor increasing teleworkers’
satisfaction with telework. On the other hand, for families with children who drop and
collect their children to/from kindergartens or schools on their way to/from work, traveling
costs might not decrease.
Gender. Gender issues in teleworking have been ambiguous. Telework has been
valued more by women than men (Belanger, 1999; Mokhtarian, et al., 1998) as telework
helps women to take care of their household and children. Women see more
advantages to teleworking than men (Mokhtarian et al., 1998), they have been more
8
motivated by flexibility and increased autonomy when teleworking (Chapman, et al.,
1995), because telework allows them to plan their work and family time (Lim and Teo,
2000). Telework could also increase career opportunities for women (Shreiber, 1999), as
they are able to return to work from maternity leave earlier. On the other hand, men are
becoming more involved in household issues, which might reduce the existing
segregation between men and women.
Number of children. Numerous studies have identified telework as a strategy that
allows workers to care for dependents (e.g. Hartig et al., 2007; Sullivan and Lewis,
2001). For example, teleworkers may spend time with their children in the morning and
have breakfast together, which would not be possible without telework. Having in mind
the high cost of childcare, telework arrangements are sometimes the only possibility for
some people. Respondents with children rated the family benefits of teleworking higher
than did those with no children at home (Mokhtarian, 1998). Therefore, we consider that
teleworkers with children are more satisfied with telework.
All of the above factors are summarized in Figure 1. Further, we evaluate the
results of empirical relationships between the identified telework factors and telework
outcomes.
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Figure 1 about here
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4. Research methodology
Sample and procedure. In order to empirically evaluate the impact of telework
factors on work-related outcomes, a web-based survey of 128 teleworkers (from the IT,
insurance, and telecommunication sectors in Lithuania) was performed. The largest IT,
insurance, and telecommunication companies in Lithuania that have telework programs
were contacted and asked to participate in the survey. Heads of human resource
departments of these companies forwarded an invitation to participate in the web-based
survey to their employees.
The mean age of respondents was 37.11 years (SD=10.24). The average
organizational tenure was 5.73 years (SD=6.28). Of the respondents, 56% were female;
69% of them were married/cohabiting; 49.2% had no children; 28% had one child;
18.6% had two children; and 3.4% had three children (there were 0.76 children per
respondent on average). Telework intensity among respondents was distributed as
9
follows: full-time telework – 23% and part-time telework – 77%. Of the latter
respondents, 38.9% teleworked once or several times per week; 17.7% once or
several times per month; and 20.4% – exercised ad hoc telework.
Measures. The questionnaire included ten telework factors as independent
variables measured on five-point Likert scale items developed for this study (the number
of items is indicated in brackets): time-planning skills (1); decreased time for
communication with colleagues (1); possibility to work from home in case of sickness
(1); supervisor’s trust (1); supervisor’s support (1); possibility to reduce expenses for
travel (1); possibility to take care of family members (2); suitability of the working place
at home (1); possibility to access organization documents from home (1); and possibility
to work during the most productive time (1). We also measured gender (0=female,
1=male) and the number of children as independent variables. The dependent variable
of subjective career opportunities was measured using two five-point Likert scale items.
The other three dependent variables (overall satisfaction with telework, perceived
advantages of telework, and self-reported productivity) were measured using single five-
point Likert scale items. All these items are presented and described in Table A1.
Control variables. Previous research has shown that telework was more attractive
to older people as they had fewer ambitions for career prospects (Lister and Harnish,
2011). However, younger people may also appreciate telework as they value the
freedom to plan their time and work autonomy (Heather, 2003). Furthermore, previous
research has revealed the influence of marital status on the evaluation of telework (Lim
and Teo, 2000). Therefore, in our analysis we controlled for age (in years) and marital
status (0 = single, 1 = marriage or cohabitation). We further included organizational
tenure (in years) and the type of work (0 = telework as an alternative for office work, 1 =
telework as the only option of work) as control variables as they may affect telework
outcomes.
Statistical analysis. To test the proposed relationships between telework factors
and telework outcomes, we performed descriptive and inferential statistics with SPSS
(Version 22.0).
5. Results
The results of our descriptive statistics including means, standard deviations, and
correlations are shown in Table 1. Telework factors had middle-range to high correlations
with all four telework outcomes. Altogether seven out of ten telework factors correlated
10
significantly with the overall satisfaction with telework (correlation coefficients range from
r = .17 to r = .46); nine out of ten telework factors correlated significantly with the
perceived advantages of telework (correlation coefficients range from r = .17 to r = .42);
six out of ten telework factors correlated significantly with subjective career opportunities
(correlation coefficients range from r = .20 to r = .40); and eight out of ten telework
factors correlated significantly with self-reported productivity (correlation coefficients
range from r = .22 to r = .43) (see Table 1).
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Table 1 about here
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The results of our regression analyses are presented in Table 2. In the first step,
we regressed telework outcomes on control variables (marital status, organizational
tenure, age, type of work), number of children, and gender (see Table 2). The number of
children had a negative effect on the overall satisfaction with telework (B = -.25, p < .05).
Teleworkers who do not have the possibility of working in an office were less satisfied
with telework (B = -.62, p < .05), but this effect was diminished after including the
telework factors into the regression equation (see Table 2). Older workers (B = -.04, p < .
001) perceived less advantages of telework. Women also tended to perceive less
advantages of telework, although the regression coefficient failed to reach significance
(B = .32, p = .101) and became significant only after including the telework factors into
the regression equation.
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Table 2 about here
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In the second step, the telework factors were included in the regression equation.
The results showed that the independent variables of our research explained a
significant part of the variance on telework outcomes, i.e. overall satisfaction with
telework (R2 = .48, p < .001), perceived advantages of telework (R2 = .52, p < .001),
subjective career opportunities (R2 = .35, p < .001), and self-reported productivity (R2 = .
43, p < .001). Additionally, the telework factors had a significant impact on telework
outcomes compared to the socio-demographic and control variables.
The overall satisfaction with telework was predicted by the possibility of working
from home in case of sickness (B = .15, p < .05), supervisor’s trust (B = .31, p < .01),
11
and the suitability of the working place at home (B = .20, p < .01). The perceived
advantages of telework were predicted by decreased time for communication with co-
workers (B = .20, p < .01), suitability of the working place at home (B = .15, p < .05), and
the possibility to work during the most productive time (B = .18, p < .05). Subjective
career opportunities were predicted by the suitability of a working place at home (B = .
23, p < .05) and supervisor’s support (B = .21, p < .05). Finally, self-reported productivity
was explained by decreased time for communication with co-workers ( B = .22, p < .01),
the possibility to take care of family members (B = .18, p < .05), and the suitability of a
working place at home (B = .27, p < .01).
In general, our results reveal that the suitability of the working place at home and
decreased time for communication with co-workers are the most important telework
factors impacting different telework outcomes. However, contrary to our initial
expectations, time-planning skills, reduced travel expenses and possibility to access
work documents from home had no significant effect on telework outcomes.
6. Discussion, conclusions and implications for practice and society
Previous research has shown that teleworkers are often more satisfied (e.g.,
Pratt, 1999) and more productive (e.g., Baruch, 2000; Golden and Veiga, 2008) than
traditional workers. However, they can also face lower career prospects because of a
lower visibility when teleworking (e.g., Khalifa and Davison, 2000; Maruyama and Tietze,
2012). Nevertheless, the factors affecting these telework outcomes remained
ambiguous. The aim of our study was to detect factors related to individual telework
outcomes such as satisfaction with telework, perceived career opportunities, and
perceived advantages of telework as well as organizational outcome i.e. employees’
perceived productivity.
Our study contributes to the existing telework research in several ways. First,
using the Job Demands-Resources model (Demerouti et al., 2001), we identified the
theoretically grounded factors that may be seen as important resources of telework.
Thus, we advanced “theory-building and links to existing organizational theories” in
telework research (Bailey and Kurland, 2002, p. 383).
The second important contribution of our research is the identification of the ten
telework factors from the existing literature: time-planning skills; possibility to work
during the most productive time; reduced time for communication with co-workers;
possibility to work from home in case of sickness; supervisor’s trust; supervisor’s
12
support; possibility to save on travel expenses; possibility to take care of family
members; suitability of the working place at home; and possibility to access the
organization’s documents from home. The analysis of empirical data suggested that a
combination of the above-mentioned factors explains a significant part of the variance in
telework outcomes. Therefore, these factors should be taken into consideration in future
telework studies and practical telework implementation in organizations.
Third, our findings indicate that the suitability of the working place at home
strengthens all measured outcomes of telework (overall satisfaction with telework,
perceived advantages of telework, career opportunities, and increases self-reported
productivity). Therefore, this study supports the results of prior research about the
importance of the working place for teleworkers’ efficiency (De Croon et al., 2005) and
proves that the establishment of a working place at home should be understood as an
important issue in the telework arrangement.
The results of this research empirically prove the theoretical propositions of
Makarius and Larson (2017) on the significance of the supervisor’s role in the
establishment of telework in organizations. Supervisor trust was found to be an
important antecedent of the overall satisfaction with telework, and supervisor support
was clearly related to perceived career opportunities. This article sheds light on the
debate about limited relationships of teleworkers with their co-workers. Our findings
show that reduced time for communication with co-workers increases the productivity of
teleworkers and can be seen as a contra argument to the social isolation of teleworkers,
which is often emphasized as one of the disadvantages of telework (Baruch, 2001;
Wilson and Greenhill, 2004).
The possibility of accessing work documents from home had no significant effect
on telework outcomes. Given technological advancement in organizations, access to
work documents may be considered as a hygiene factor, but not as an additional
resource. Therefore, it does not increase favorable work outcomes.
It is worth mentioning our empirical findings concerning the demographic
characteristics of teleworkers. We found that older workers and women perceived less
advantages of telework. Our findings on women’s attitudes toward telework challenge
the predominant public discourse and the results of previous studies that women value
telework more than men do (Belanger, 1999; Mokhtarian et al., 1998). This probably
demonstrates changing gender lifestyles in the current social environment, where men
are increasingly involved in the delivery of family responsibilities. Our findings on
significant age-related differences in perceived telework advantages are consistent with
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the results of previous studies that younger employees appreciate telework, considering
it as a source of freedom to plan time and work autonomy (Earle, 2003). The negative
effect of the number of children on the overall satisfaction with telework is another
interesting finding of our study because it challenges the results of previous research
where telework has been acknowledged as a significant opportunity for employees with
children (Hartig et al., 2007; Sullivan and Lewis, 2001). We interpret this finding in the
following way: an increasing number of children can make it more difficult to manage
work–family issues at home, thus leading to decreases in telework satisfaction.
Another important finding of our research is that the possibility to work when a
person is sick increases teleworkers’ satisfaction with telework. Therefore, our results
imply that telework may be a suitable solution for organizations to the challenge of
presenteeism, which is related to more productivity loss than absenteeism (Johns,
2010). Thus, for employees seeking to fulfill their work obligations even if they are sick
and who wish to survive in a competitive work environment, telework makes this
possible. At the individual level, the possibility to telework may reduce depression and
related psychological problems strongly correlating with presenteeism (Conti and Burton,
1994).
7. Limitations and directions for future research
This research has a few limitations that should be considered in future research.
Although our research applied a cross-sectional study design, conclusions about
causality could be tested using a longitudinal study design, which would allow the long-
term effects of telework to be investigated. Also, because we used the single item scales
developed for this research, it is important to mention measurement issues as a
limitation. It is recommended that multi-item scales be used to measure telework factors
in future research. Finally, we limited the scope of our research to individuals employed
in organizations based on an employment contract. Future studies may consider more
diverse organizational settings of telework for data collection to validate the findings of
this research.
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Appendix
Table A 1. Study items measuring telework factors and telework outcomes
Telework factors: Items
Time planning skills I am not able to plan my time when working from home (Re)
Reduced time for communication with co-
workers
I like that I spend less time for communication with colleagues when working from
home
Possibility to work from home in case of
sickness
I work from home when I feel sick
Supervisor’s trust I think my employer trusts me a lot when providing the opportunity to work from
home
Possibility to save expenses for travel I work from home to save travel expenses
Possibility to take care of family
members
When working from home I am able to take care of my child
When working from home I am able to nurse my family members
Suitability of a working place at home The work place at home is suitable for work
Possibility to access work documents
from home
When working from home I do not have access to company documents
Supervisor's support When working from home I lack the support of my supervisor (Re)
Possibility to work during most productive
time
When working from home I am able to work during the most productive time
Telework outcomes:
Overall satisfaction Overall, I am satisfied with the opportunity to work from home
Perceived advantages I do not see any advantages of teleworking (Re)
Subj. career opportunities When I work from home my supervisor sees me rarely and my career
opportunities decrease (Re)
Subj. career opportunities When I work from home my career opportunities decrease as I do not develop
professionally
Self-reported productivity I am more productive when working from home
20
Figure 1. Organizing framework of telework factors and telework outcomes
Telework factors
Time planning skills
Possibility to work during the most productive time
Supervisor’s trust
Supervisor’s support
Reduced time for communication with co-workers
Possibility to take care of family members
Possibility to work from home in case of sickness
Suitability of a working place at home
Possibility to access organization documents from home
Possibility to save expenses for travel
Telework outcomes
Overall satisfaction with telework
Perceived advantages of telework
Subjective career opportunities
Self-reported productivity
Table 1. Means, standard deviations and correlations of the study variables
Variables Mea
n
SD 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
1 Marital status .69 .46
2 Organizational tenure 5.73 6.28 .18
3 Age 37.1
1
10.24 .17 .62
4 Type of work .14 .35 .10 .31 .27
5 Number of children .76 .88 .37 .14 .28 -.11
6 Gender .44 .50 .05 -.10 -.13 -.11 -.10
7 Time planning skills 4.16 1.13 -.10 -.09 -.10 -.27 .05 .17
8 Reduced time for
communication with
co-workers
3.15 1.30 .03 .06 .04 -.02 .03 -.07 .21
9 Work when sick 3.82 1.40 -.01 -.43 -.49 -.30 .00 .10 .12 .15
1
0
Supervisor’s trust 4.46 .88 -.04 -.09 -.02 -.15 .07 -.14 .30 .13 .25
11 Expenses for travel 2.37 1.50 -.14 .08 -.04 .18 -.27 -.03 -.02 .17 .10 .05
1
2
Possibility to take care 3.23 1.18 .03 -.08 -.09 -.18 .12 -.17 .09 .30 .24 .21 .01
1
3
Working place at
home
3.68 1.22 -.07 -.03 -.04 -.08 .05 .05 .31 .23 .17 .41 .22 .02
1
4
Work documents 4.05 1.27 -.16 -.35 -.31 -.11 -.13 .22 .20 -.07 .24 .12 .03 -.14 .17
1
5
Supervisor's support 3.94 1.18 -.12 -.26 -.10 -.04 .03 .10 .16 .09 .19 .21 .09 .00 .25 .39
1
6
Most productive time 3.83 1.12 -.11 -.11 -.07 -.18 .05 -.13 .21 .39 .24 .35 .23 .33 .40 -.07 .10
1
7
Overall satisfaction 4.52 .92 -.04 -.29 -.24 -.26 -.21 .08 .26 .02 .38 .46 .01 .05 .40 .34 .19 .17
1
8
Perceived advantages
of telework
4.41 1.04 -.03 -.21 -.39 -.19 -.01 .19 .31 .38 .29 .31 .15 .24 .42 .17 .23 .42 .34
1
9
Subj. career
opportunities
3.61 1.10 -.13 -.05 -.10 -.02 -.05 .17 .28 .02 .09 .29 .20 -.01 .40 .33 .37 .06 .35 .24
2
0
Self-reported
productivity
3.51 1.17 -.07 .07 .07 .00 .00 -.02 .27 .44 .06 .29 .27 .27 .47 .06 .22 .41 .23 .53 .30
Note. Correlation coefficients in bold are significant at p<.05; N=109-118, pairwise deletion.
Gender (0=female, 1=male), marital status (0=single, 1=marriage or cohabitation), type of work (0=telework as an alternative for office work, 1=telework as the only option of work)
Table 2. Results of hierarchical regression analyses predicting telework outcomes
Note. Regression coefficients in bold are significant at p<.05; N=109-118, pairwise deletion. Work when sick=Possibility to work from home in case of sickness; Work documents=Possibility to access
organization documents from home; Most productive time=Possibility to work during most productive time; Expenses for travel=Possibility to decrease expenses for travel; Possibility to take
care=Possibility to take care of family members; Working place at home=Suitability of a working place at home;
Gender (0=female, 1=male), marital status (0=single, 1=marriage or cohabitation), type of work (0=telework as an alternative for office work, 1=telework as the only option of work)
Dependent variables (telework outcomes)
Overall satisfaction Perceived advantages Subj. career opportunities Self-reported productivity
Variables Entry
B
Sig. Final B Sig. Entry
B
Sig. Final B Sig. Entry
B
Sig. Final B Sig. Entry
B
Sig. Final B Sig.
Social-demographical variables:
Marital status .22 .272 .11 .091 -.05 .835 .08 .655 -.36 .162 -.13 .573 -.22 .420 -.04 .864
Organizational tenure -.03 .090 -.20 .387 .01 .500 .02 .384 .01 .792 .02 .344 .01 .636 .01 .557
Age .00 .980 .00 .398 -.04 .000 -.05 .000 -.01 .485 -.01 .455 .01 .707 .01 .655
Type of work -.62 .019 -.24 .110 -.20 .494 .00 .989 .10 .764 .08 .786 -.08 .829 .13 .683
Number of children -.25 .022 -.24 .001 .14 .250 .09 .400 .05 .704 .01 .931 .00 .983 -.06 .654
Gender .00 .998 .00 .697 .32 .101 .44 .010 .39 .075 .25 .226 -.01 .956 .07 .722
Telework factors:
Time planning skills .05 .505 .03 .673 .11 .250 .08 .432
Reduced time for communication with co-
workers
-.05 .441 .20 .005 -.06 .468 .22 .010
Work when sick .15 .027 -.08 .233 -.06 .482 -.09 .313
Supervisor’s trust .31 .002 .16 .120 .20 .128 .07 .575
Expenses for travel -.06 .276 .02 .767 .10 .155 .08 .248
Possibility to take care -.01 .891 .08 .305 .06 .518 .18 .045
Working place at home .20 .005 .15 .050 .23 .016 .27 .005
Work documents .12 .072 .02 .829 .13 .147 .05 .612
Supervisor's support -.02 .749 .07 .351 .21 .025 .11 .235
Most productive time -.03 .671 .18 .042 -.11 .300 .14 .202
.17 .48 .19 .52 .05 .35 .01 .43
F3.39 .004 5.37 .000 4.05 .001 6.11 .000 .97 .452 3.10 .000 .24 .963 4.40 .000
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