Mineta Transportation Institute Issues a Report on Telecommuting Intensity and Differences between Telecommuters and Non-Telecommuters

Data can be valuable for companies seeking to expand or initiate telecommuting programs.
October 7, 2010
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San José, CA

The Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) has released its newest research report, Facilitating Telecommuting: Exploring the Role of Telecommuting Intensity and Differences Between Telecommuters and Non-Telecommuters. In this study, the authors sought to better understand factors that help and hinder employees’ telecommuting adoption. Telecommuting – working away from the conventional workplace – has not experienced the growth projections predicted by some earlier experts. Nancy Da Silva, PhD and Meghna Virick, PhD were principal investigators for the report.

Academic research on telecommuting in the management and psychology fields is relatively undeveloped, despite a great deal of popular press about the benefits and disadvantages of working from home. The researchers delved into attitudes and behaviors of employees who telecommute and those who do not, and they examined supervisor attitudes and HR practices in organizations related to telecommuting.

“The sample for this project consisted of individuals working in a variety of organizations in Silicon Valley,” said Dr. Da Silva. “For each organization, we tried to obtain survey responses from a telecommuter, a nontelecommuter and their supervisor, with all three working in the same department.”

The authors found that telecommuters were more committed to the organization and were more satisfied with life in general than nontelecommuters. They found no differences between the two groups on how satisfied they were in their jobs and whether they were more likely to leave the organization.

They also found telecommuters to be more satisfied with their jobs when they engaged in moderate telecommuting as opposed to extreme levels of telecommuting (i.e., very high or very low). Telecommuters were also less likely to leave the organization when telecommuting was moderate.

The authors examined several other differences and similarities between the two groups, such as attitudes about HR practices, work disruptions, commute distances, and other factors. Interestingly, more than 50 percent of telecommuting supervisors believed that employees must be high performers to telecommute.

This study, which was conducted across multiple organizations, strongly suggests that moderate amounts of telecommuting may be the best strategy for companies seeking to introduce large scale telecommuting. However, factors such as individual personalities must be taken into account.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Nancy Da Silva, Ph.D., Mineta Transportation Institute research associate, is an associate professor in the Department of Organization and Management in the College of Business at San José State University. She received her Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from the University of Houston in 2000.

Meghna Virick, Ph.D., Mineta Transportation Institute research associate, is an associate professor in the Department of Organization and Management in the College of Business at San José State University. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2002.

ABOUT THE MINETA TRANSPORTATION INSTITUTE

The Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) was established by Congress in 1991 as part of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) and was reauthorized under TEA-21 and again under SAFETEA-LU. The institute is funded by Congress through the US Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Research and Innovative Technology Administration, by the California Legislature through the Department of Transportation (Caltrans), and by other public and private grants and donations, including grants from the US Department of Homeland Security. DOT selected MTI as a National Center of Excellence following competitions in 2002 and 2006. The internationally respected members of the MTI Board of Trustees represent all major surface transportation modes. MTI’s focus on policy and management resulted from the Board’s assessment of the transportation industry’s unmet needs. That led directly to choosing the San José State University College of Business as the Institute’s home. MTI conducts research, education, and information and technology transfer, focusing on multimodal surface transportation policy and management issues.