Why Are Telecommuters Happier?


Spend all day in your PJs, crank the music and check Facebook as often as you want. Apparently working from home is really as awesome as it sounds, for both you and your employer. A recent study found that workers who telecommuted to work were both more productive and less stressed than their office-bound coworkers. They also had a higher overall satisfaction with their job than those who physically came into the office.

It was previously thought that interpersonal connections with coworkers brought satisfaction. But though strong relationships in the office are important, they can also be distracting. Telecommuters had fewer interruptions from coworkers, didn’t have to worry about office politics as much and weren’t forced to sit through long, drawn-out meetings, so the telecommuters were able to really focus on work.

According to recent surveys more people work at home than you might think.

-- 2.8 million people primarily work from home or 2 percent of the workforce
-- Twenty to 30 million work from home at least one day a week
-- Only 21 percent of people who were asked were not interested in working from home at all

Of course, you need to be careful when working from home. It’s easy to fall into the trap of being a hermit, so definitely make time to go to networking events. You won’t meet as many people working from home. Plus, in this unstable economy it’s really important to continue to grow your professional contact list.

Working from home isn’t for everyone. If you are prone to procrastinating, working from home may not be for you. Some people need the structure and discipline of a 9-to-5 office job to help them stay motivated and on task. However, if working from home seems appealing, try it out. Ask to work from home one or two days a week. You and your employer may be happier for it.


Studies have shown that people who work from home, also known as telecommuters, are more satisfied with their jobs than those who go to work in offices. In a recent study, researchers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, wanted to examine the extent of job satisfaction in telecommuters and the main factors that influenced it. “Results reveal that high-intensity telecommuters are more satisfied than office-based employees and achieve significant benefits from their work arrangement, with work-life conflict most influential toward job satisfaction.”

One of the most important factors that affects satisfaction at work is the feeling of connection with co-workers at the actual workplace. Better relationships prove to be very beneficial and add to the satisfaction of the worker. Those who work from home do not have such communication with co-workers and their superiors; hence it was thought that they would be less satisfied than those who work at offices. But the present study proves that there are many disadvantages associated with face-to-face interaction, which were never thought of before. The stress produced because of unnecessary meetings, loss of independence and office politics leads to unhappiness.

-- In the study, 192 volunteers, out of whom 89 were telecommuters and 103 were office-based workers, were included.
-- All of them were given a questionnaire in which they were asked to grade “work-life conflict” (i.e. extent to which their work disturbs their personal life), stress from meetings and interruptions, degree of organizational politics affecting their work satisfaction and disturbance due to casual conversations with their co-workers.
-- Finally, they were asked to grade their job satisfaction after taking into account all the above factors.

-- Incidences of personal life being affected by problems in work were very few in telecommuters.
-- Institutional politics were high in offices that included abuse of power and favoritism. This resulted in discontent in those who worked in offices.
-- Disturbances due to casual meetings and the subsequent frustration were also very much reduced in those who worked from home.
-- Overall, job satisfaction was high with telecommuters compared to office-based workers.

In the present study, the data that was collected for analysis was provided by volunteers. Reliability of this data is questionable. Because of flexibility of work arrangement, there is a chance that telecommuters would exaggerate the benefit of working from home. It is also noteworthy that most of the telecommuters were the people who earlier worked in offices on a full-time base. This would certainly influence their satisfaction level in present work.

Telecommuting is beneficial to both the organization and the workers who are working in it. Less stress in telecommuting increases the efficiency of workers and also gives them more satisfaction. This study proves that personal interaction, rather than being beneficial, can actually create a sense of overload on workers and reduce their performance. The study also gives some good strategies for the organizations where teleworking is not possible. “Collaborative teams could be encouraged to limit the number of scheduled meetings, and to only involve team members who are vital to the meeting objectives. Physical boundaries within the organization may also be useful, such as ‘quiet offices’ where employees can work when they need to focus without distraction.”

For More Information:
Why Teleworkers Are More Satisfied with Their Jobs Than Office-Based Workers
Publication Journal: Journal of Applied Communication Research, October 2010
By Kathryn L. Fonner; Michael E. Roloff; University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Northwestern University, Milwaukee, WI

*FYI Living Lab Reports Are Summaries of the Original Research.