Telework & Well-being Integration: Job Satisfaction

Autonomy, flexibility and trust between employees and senior leaders are top drivers of job satisfaction that can be influenced by telework. 

January 09, 2020

This resource is intended for use by well-being practitioners, work-life and telework program managers, leaders at all levels, and other stakeholders interested in championing flexibility and shaping the future of work.

Telework is associated with increased job satisfaction.i On their telework days, employees experience more positive and less negative job-related affect. Openness to experience, social connectedness outside of work, and other individual factors moderated the relationships between telework and job-related affect.ii Autonomy, flexibility and trust between employees and senior leaders are top drivers of job satisfaction that can be influenced by telework.

ADVANTAGES

  • Maximized autonomy
  • Increased flexibility
  • Greater likelihood of feeling supported by supervisor
  • Improved trust between employees and leaders
  • Improved job performance for complex jobs

NEUTRAL IMPACT

  • Similar performance ratings as full-time office workers for less complex jobs

Autonomy

Telework can maximize autonomy, and employees with greater autonomy at work report higher levels of job satisfaction and positive effects on their overall well-being.26

Flexibility and Work-Life

Telework provides employees with the flexibility to manage personal and family responsibilities while minimizing impacts on work priorities. In a randomized controlled trial, employees with greater flexibility reported higher job satisfaction and less stress. They also felt far more empowered and supported by their boss.27 Supervisor support for flexibility can make employees feel valued and increase likelihood that they consider the organization a good place to work.

Trust Between Employees and Senior Management

Building a flexible culture that encourages telework is an opportunity for leaders to demonstrate that they trust employees, and trust between employees and senior management is a top contributor to job satisfaction.

Based on a review of 46 studies, telework is associated with improved job performance, as rated by objective and subjective measures. Furthermore, a 2018 study found individuals with complex jobs had higher job performance when teleworking more; frequent teleworkers with less complex jobs received similar performance ratings to infrequent teleworkers and full-time office workers.29

According to Deloitte’s 2018 Global Human Capital Trends survey, 70% of employees say telecommuting is highly valuable or valuable, yet only 27% of employers offer telecommuting.30

Learn More

Employer Practices for Integrating Job Satisfaction and Telework


Well-being Benefits & Tech Solutions

  • Offer and use a variety of communication channels to fit the diversity of employee preferences.

New Policies & Practices

  • Set clear criteria for telework eligibility to ensure fairness (and be open to employee feedback regarding the criteria); base telework denials on sound business reasons or performance issues.
  • Establish telework training for employees and managers.
  • Foster autonomy and self-efficacy in teleworkers; these skills are critical to success.
  • Set and communicate clear expectations and refrain from micromanagement.
  • Ensure performance ratings and promotions are based on results, and eliminate face-time bias.
  • Celebrate the success of teleworkers through emails, phone calls and/or group chats on instant messaging systems, and ensure that teleworkers are eligible for the same awards and recognition received by their office-based peers.
  • Keep a pulse on trust and morale through one-on-one communications and group meetings.
  • Encourage employees to conduct a self-assessment to determine if telework is the right flexibility for them and their job.
  • Encourage managers and senior leaders to telework to demonstrate their commitment to a flexible work culture; also, the experience of teleworking may make them more effective in managing teleworkers.

Next Steps

Add a question to the employee engagement survey about telework status, and analyze the results to identify any differences in job satisfaction, employee engagement and other organizational priorities between teleworkers and non-teleworkers.

Community Impact of Telework

Beyond boosting individual well-being, telework positively impacts communities and alleviates top global concerns by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, fossil fuel consumption, pollution, and paper and plastic waste, while at the same time decreasing the digital divide and increasing broadband access. Telework also helps the local economy through increased job opportunities and spending.

Communities see the value of telework and are acting. For example, the Make Montana Home campaign aims to build a thriving economic landscape by targeting teleworkers: “Stunning landscapes, beautiful rivers, world class flyfishing and skiing define the incomparable quality of life. Montana’s people are equally special. We invite you to learn more about moving home if you are a native, bringing your current job here as a telecommuter or to grow your existing business or start a new one here.”31

Going Deeper - A Global Look Across Countries

The trend towards telecommuting and the well-being benefits it derives have global application. However, the prevalence, approach and requirements surrounding telecommuting have variations by country. Coming soon: Going Deeper – A Global Look Across Countries, will look at the considerations across various locations.

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