Employers that fear that allowing employees to work from home will isolate them from the rest of the office can rest easy.
According to new research, remote workers indicated that any kind of increased communication with co-workers did not translate to a greater feeling of identification with the organization. Instead, remote workers stated that the benefits of communication were minimal and had no bearing on workers' sense of closeness within an organization.
"It is often assumed that teleworkers need a lot of communication and contact with the organization in order to diminish their sense of distance and to develop a sense of belonging," Kathryn Fonner, assistant professor of communication at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and co-author of the research, said. "But we found that the more teleworkers communicated with others, the more stressed they felt due to interruptions, and this was negatively associated with their identification with the organization."
Fonner added: "When teleworkers feel they are constantly interrupted, this may decrease the value of organizational membership for them and diminish their attachment to the organization."
Remote workers were not the only ones stressed by these interruptions. The research found that while remote workers were stressed by face-to-face communication, email, instant messaging and videoconferencing, office-based workers experienced stress related to face-to-face and email communications. Office workers, however, experienced more stress due to these interruptions, the research found.
According to Fonner, this indicates that organizations must start doing a better job to help all workers respond to stresses they associate with work-related communications.
"Teleworkers should strategically manage their connectivity in order to balance the benefits and drawbacks of communicating with others, while organizations should focus on streamlining communication," said Fonner. "This may include limiting mass emails, diminishing the number of weekly meetings, creating information stores and fostering an environment where employees can schedule uninterrupted time to work."
This research was co-authored by Michael Roloff, a professor of communication studies at Northwestern University, and published in June issue of Communication Monographs, which is published by the National Communication Association.
Reach BusinessNewsDaily staff writer David Mielach at Dmielach@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @D_M89.