Faculty Guest Blog: Teleworking Effectively Means Understanding Its Complexities

Teleworking is an increasingly common form of work in business today.  It often involves individuals who work away from the office for a portion of their work week and collaborate using technology. Some of the most popular forms are referred to as telecommuting and virtual work. Estimates suggest this form of work is growing by upwards of 30 percent per year and is practiced world-wide.

Many benefits of teleworking have been reported, and include: enhanced productivity, increased job satisfaction, reduced exhaustion, and greater alignment between work and family demands. As a result, most large companies offer teleworking options for their employees, and the federal government has mandated that most federal jobs be considered eligible for teleworking arrangements.

To harness these benefits, individuals need to carefully consider the nature of their job and how best to carry out their job responsibilities while teleworking. For example, tasks that are complex and require focused concentration are often accomplished in relative isolation, so teleworking may offer an ideal work mode. However other tasks, such as nuanced conversations involving complex ideas or ones which are interpersonally sensitive may best be accomplished face-to-face in the office. By thoughtfully carrying out such job responsibilities with an eye towards the requirements of the task, teleworkers are able to effectively allocate their time in the office and time away teleworking, thus achieving telework’s many benefits.

Timothy Golden is an associate professor at the Rensselaer Lally School of Management.