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This paper aims to investigate the overall concept and the practical implications of the implementation of telework in contemporary organizations. The importance of this problem is determined by the growing demand for greater workplace flexibility in current working environments. The paper is based on the literature research, employing various academic sources on the topic. The report begins with a brief observation of the area of concern.
In order to provide a more profound context for the investigation of the current practices related to the implementation of teleworking, the paper employs the article from the 1990s which discussed the emerging concept of teleworking.
Further, the author elaborates on the contemporary academic literature on the topic. Among the most important findings of the conducted analysis, it is possible to mention the fact that the top and senior management play a crucial role in the successful implementation of teleworking practices. Also, the paper is supported by several graphs that synthesize the principal findings of the conducted analysis. Finally, the paper ends with the comprehensively developed conclusion which includes the observation of the overall scope of the paper as well as its primary findings.
It is stated with certainty that the new communication technologies have brought about various changes in multiple spheres of human activities. Moreover, the implementation of such technologies is largely recognized as a vast improvement in terms of creating a more sustainable and comprehensive environment for society functioning (Kim, 2017). New communication technologies exist both in spheres related to personal life and working environments. Due to the fact that contemporary workplaces have a tendency to become more and more diversified and flexible, it is decided that this paper should address the phenomenon of telework and its importance to the current corporate culture and the structure of workplaces.
Essentially, one of the most important goals, at which the implementation of telework is aiming, is the establishment of a proper work-life balance for the employees of a company. In contemporary working environments, top management of the majority of companies has the purpose of creating more comfortable conditions for their workers, simultaneously seeking to increase workplace productivity and efficiency.
In the context of this fact, it is apparent that the problem of the proper implementation of the telework approach is of high importance. Therefore, this paper aims to give a profound overview of the approaches that were used in the past or are being currently used in companies. Further, dwelling on the findings from the literature research, the paper will present new and recommendations for the implementation that could be employed by contemporary companies. Lastly, a comprehensive conclusion will be developed in order to synthesize the main aspects of the conducted work.
First of all, it should be observed that the implementation of telework as a tool for improving work-life balance is an integral part of workplace flexibility. The issue of searching for new approaches to scheduling the employees’ working hours was the subject matter for numerous academic studies in recent decades, and it is still an important question. Therefore, the purpose of this section is to briefly overview the history of the concept of workplace flexibility in the context of telework.
Despite the fact that the term “workplace flexibility” was not widely used in the 1990s, the research in the field of new methods and instruments for creating a more diverse and employee-friendly working environment emerged in this period (Hone, Kerrin, & Cox, 1998).
The first source on the topic to be discussed is the article by Hone et al. (1998). In this article, the authors observe that the rapid development of communication technologies allows workers to perform tasks that are traditionally office-based in various locations, including their homes and community-based centers. Accordingly, the researchers introduce the notion of “telework,” which was not coined by them, but rather it was an emerging concept that reflected the occurrence of new approaches to work scheduling enabled by the development of telecommunication technologies.
Hone et al. (1998) state that the term “telework” does not have an established, universally accepted definition due to the novelty of the term (however, currently, there still is no profound consensus on the term’s definition). The scholars offer the following definition of telework: it is “the performance of work activities, at a distant location from employing/contracting organizations that is enabled by information and telecommunication technologies” (Hone et al., 1998, p. 227). Additionally, the authors dwell on the cast literature research, as they retrieve various definitions from the contemporary academic works on the same topic.
The primary significance of the study by Hone et al. (1998) is that the researchers develop a model for evaluating and estimating the psychological impact of teleworking. This work could be considered as one of the first academic attempts to comprehensively investigate how the implementation of telework influences the productivity of employees and the level of their job satisfaction. The authors develop their model by establishing the core dimensions of teleworking (CORDiT), several dimensions of work and personal life that are influenced by teleworking, and, finally, the outcome measures.
credit includes two primary areas of concern (Exhibit 1). They are the “proportion of working time spent away from the traditional work environment” and the “extent to which telecoms and IT are used for working away from the traditional work environment” (Hone et al., 1998, p. 233). The dimensions of work could be distributed into the following groups: job/task dimensions (including the type of work and the use of IT), management/organizational dimensions (length of contract with employers, promotion and training opportunities, control over the pacing of work as well as over hours of work), and social/physical work environment dimensions (including work environment, workstation design, physical isolation, privacy, communication and social support from colleagues) (Hone et al., 1998).
Additionally, the authors also incorporate the dimensions related to the personal lives of employees, which are the following: social support at home, home environment, as well as non-work demands such as home management child care, and leisure activities (Hone et al., 1998).
Finally, the outcome measures are divided into the individual, task, and organizational outcomes. Individual outcomes include such factors as the level of job satisfaction, general well-being, and motivation of an employee, eye strain, stress, musculoskeletal problems, and the feeling of isolation (Hone et al., 1998). Task outcomes include the quality and quantity of output, while organizational outcomes refer to the productivity and overhead costs (Hone et al., 1998).
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Thus, a comprehensive model is successfully developed by the researchers. However, it is also of high importance to mention that Hone et al. (1998) recognized that there is a set of various problems related to the implementation of telework. The authors particularly emphasize psychosocial factors such as social and physical isolation, lack of positive feedback, problems with self-motivation and self-management, and poor relationships with superiors and colleagues (Hone et al., 1998). The proposed model addresses this problem, but not always to the full extent.
Nevertheless, despite the fact that the CORDiT model proposed by Hone et al. (1998) was a vast improvement of the understanding of the concept of teleworking for the time when it was published, the sphere of telecommunication has changed drastically in the last two decades. Therefore, research on new approaches to the implementation of teleworking should be conducted. Then, it will be possible to provide a comprehensive and concise synthesis of the new research in this field in order to develop meaningful recommendations that could be implemented in contemporary workplaces. The following section is dedicated to this purpose.
As was identified in the previous section, numerous aspects related to the implementation of teleworking in organizations have changed significantly due to the continuous development of telecommunication technologies. Thus, it is essential to seek new approaches and opportunities for the improvement of the telework tool (Exhibit 2). The Previous Approaches section exemplified the theoretical framework that was developed for the estimation of the psychological impact of teleworking on employees. The credit model has its evident advantages as it is an elaborate and well-developed approach to investigating the effects of teleworking.
However, in the current circumstances, some of these model provisions might not be correct due to the fact that the corporate structure of modern organizations, as well as the advancement of technologies, has made immense progress since the end of the 20th century. Therefore, it is essential to focus on contemporary studies in the field in order to retrieve new efficient approaches.
First of all, it should be noted that the article by Hone et al. (1998) did not mention the concept of “workplace flexibility” at all, which could be considered as one of the primary disadvantages of the proposed model. As it is apparent from numerous recent studies, workplace flexibility became one of the most important directions of research in the context of improving organizational structure and well-being of employees.
For example, Kossek and Thompson (2016) define workplace flexibility as “a formal or informal agreement between an employer and employee to provide individual job control over flexibility in timing, location, amount, or continuity in concert with nonwork needs” (p. 255).
However, the study by Putnam, Myers, and Gailliard (2014) indicates that the research in the identified area of concern reveals “tensions and contradictions in the ways that employees, managers and organizations develop, enact and respond to these flexibility initiatives” (p. 413). Accordingly, the article by Kossek, Thompson, and Lautsch (2015) identifies three types of “traps” that can emerge while implementing the instruments of workplace flexibility (Exhibit 3). Overall, the introduction of workplace flexibility initiatives and interventions could be a highly challenging task.
Thus, it is apparent that contemporary organizations demand a more comprehensive approach to implementing interventions for the improvement of work-life balance. As the importance of the concept of workplace flexibility was identified in the previous paragraph, it is of high significance to move on to the discussion of the role of teleworking as the instrument of balancing the personal life and working schedule of contemporary workers. Teleworking is widely recognized in contemporary literature as one of the most effective, yet costly and challenging instruments for balancing work and personal life. Therefore, the question of implementation should be investigated comprehensively.
Primarily, it is decided to focus on the research by Mayo, Gomez-Mejia, Firfiray, Berrone, and Villena (2016) as the authors focus on the implementation of home telework in the context of “the importance of work-family balance as a key determinant in explaining the adoption of social practices oriented toward internal stakeholders” (p. 609). Particularly, the authors investigate the role of the beliefs of the organization’s top management about the implementation of teleworking practices in their companies. The study is based on a sample of 2,388 top executive officers from various organizations.
The participants reported about their senior managers’ beliefs about work-life balance in their organizations by completing the survey, which asked “how much key decision-makers were convinced of the value to employees of supportive family-friendly HR practices, modeled how to balance work and family life, and felt a personal commitment to implement family-friendly practices” (Mayo et al., 2016, p. 609). Additionally, the survey particularly investigated the implementation of telework as one of the most widely recognized instruments for balancing personal life and work.
Based on the regression analysis of the findings obtained from the participants’ answers, Mayo et al. (2016) developed several conclusions. The primary purpose of the study was to find out to which extent the beliefs of senior management about work-life balancing practices improve or aggravate the implementation of these practices. Accordingly, the main finding of the article is directly related to this purpose.
According to the analysis of the answers to the survey, Mayo et al. (2016) found that the implementation of teleworking is the most efficient in organizations where the top and senior management has a strong favoring belief about the importance of work-life balance. Also, the authors note that this finding is irrespective of the firm context, namely industry, geographical dispersion, and size (Mayo et al., 2016).
What is even more important for this paper, the researchers found that “managerial beliefs augment the positive effect of instrumental factors on the provision of home telework” (Mayo et al., 2016, p. 609). Thus, it is possible to state with certainty that the most important aspect of the implementation of teleworking as the work-life balancing instrument is the strong support from the top and senior management.
It could be restated that the vast improvement of telecommunication technologies is directly connected with the well-being of employees, their level of job satisfaction, and overall productivity and efficiency. This paper investigated the role of telework as the instrument for balancing the personal life and working schedule of employees. It is evident from the conducted research that the concept of teleworking emerged in the 1990s, but it is still in the process of continuous development.
In the final section of the paper, the contemporary views of various scholars were considered in order to understand the current state of the research in this area of concern. Accordingly, it has been found out that the role of top and senior management in the integration of teleworking practices in the contemporary organizations has an immense impact on the overall success of the implementation.
Hone, K. S., Kerrin, M., & Cox, T. (1998). CORDiT: A multi-dimensional model for evaluating the psychological impact of teleworking. European Psychologist, 3(3), 227-237.
Kim, S.-N. (2017). Is telecommuting sustainable? An alternative approach to estimating the impact of home-based telecommuting on household travel. International Journal of Sustainable Transportation, 11(2), 72-85.
Kossek, E. E., & Thompson, R. J. (2016). Workplace flexibility: Integrating employer and employee perspectives to close the research-practice implementation gap. In T. D. Allen & L. T. Eby (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of work and family (pp. 255-270). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Kossek, E. E., Thompson, R. J., & Lautsch, B. A. (2015). Balanced workplace flexibility: Avoiding the traps. California Management Review, 57(4), 5-25.
Mayo, M., Gomez-Mejia, L., Firfiray, S., Berrone, P., & Villena, V. H. (2016). Leader beliefs and CSR for employees: The case of telework provision. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 37(5), 609-634.
Putnam, L. L., Myers, K. K., & Gailliard, B. M. (2014). Examining the tensions in workplace flexibility and exploring options for new directions. Human Relations, 67(4), 413-440.
|Possible disadvantages of the workplace flexibility implementation|
|Altering work-life dynamics||Fairness (inequality and stigma)||The culture of unbalanced flexibility|
|Difficulties in communication between telework users and other employees||The potentially negative perception of teleworking by the rest of the employees||The overall aggravation of the corporate culture related to the perception of the telework practice as not useful|
Exhibit 3. Possible disadvantages of the workplace flexibility implementation.