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The benefits of telecommuting

Despite living in a world of constant connection through mobile phones, tablets, laptops and an ever-improving internet service, employers are still wary of telecommuting. However, a new study shows remote working actually has positive effects on employee performance.

A study by Ravi S Gajendran, a professor of business administration at the University of Illinois, says telecommuting yields positive effects for two important measures of employee performance, as well as certain benefits for the staff member.

Gajendran’s research reveals improvements in task and context-based performance among telecommuters, including their contributions toward creating a positive, cooperative and friendly work environment. According to the study, they want to be seen as “good citizens” of the company in order to justify their flexible arrangement.

“They feel compelled to go above and beyond to make their work presence more visible to make themselves known as assets,” Gajendran says. “In fact, they almost overcompensate by being extra helpful, because they know their special arrangement could easily go away. They don’t want to be ‘out of sight, out of mind’ and don’t want their co-workers to resent your situation.”

Although the positive effect was found to be modest, Gajendran believes even a small improvement in job performance is worth considering when an employee asks to work remotely. “Even if there was no effect at all and that telecommuting essentially did no harm, that in and of itself would be a finding,” he comments.

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