Employees who telework one to three days per week – so-called ‘hybrid teleworkers’ - are more productive than workers who do little or no telework, according to a new study jointly undertaken between the Institute for a Broadband Enabled Society (IBES) and AUT University's Work Research Institute in New Zealand.
The research, which surveyed more than 1,800 employees and almost 100 HR and senior managers in 50 businesses and organisations across New Zealand and Australia, found that teleworkers believe their flexible work arrangements allow them to be more productive and to perform better at work, while managers found teleworkers to deliver better work outcomes and suffer less from absenteeism.
Teleworking is now accepted as mainstream with ‘hybrid teleworking’ the most popular model.
In 2012, Dr Rachelle Bosua from the Department of Computing and Information Systems and IBES, led a first study that explored Telework, Productivity and Wellbeing. This study reported a positive link between the ability to telework, wellbeing and teleworker productivity.
“Over the past year, this initial study has been deepened in collaboration with AUT University’s Work Research Institute in the form of the first Trans-Tasman Telework Survey,” said Dr Bosua.
“Our findings indicate a positive relationship between the ability to telework and well-being which in turn contributed to more productive workers. “
Dr Rachelle Bosua says work patterns and places of work are changing dramatically as a result of increased adoption of digital technologies.
“In addition, work and family life is getting more blended and entwined. These elements pose unique challenges to successfully manage a new era of flexible workers and measure outputs. Our study confirms that flexible work is a way for managers to invest in the wellbeing of their workers increasing productivity, job satisfaction, and retaining talented workers”.
These research findings along with the leadership and management of telework will be discussed at the Telework Congress being hosted at the University of Melbourne on Tuesday 19 November 2013. For further information and to register visit: teleworkcongress.com.au
Key findings include:
- 89% report teleworking one or more hours per week with the mean number of telework hours standing at 13 hours per an average 40 hour work week.
- The majority of employees are either low-intensity teleworkers (less than eight hours per week teleworking: 35%) or hybrid teleworkers (1-3 days per week: 38%).
- Just 16% telework more than 3 days per week. The majority of employees (85%) telework from home with 77% having an office or permanent workstation available at their employer’s workplace, suggesting many organisations may have opportunities to reduce real estate costs through mobile offices/flexible work spaces or workstation sharing
- The cost of technology and equipment to support telework is usually borne by the organisation with 64% having the technology to telework provided by their employer.
Teleworkers are more productive and satisfied with their job:
- 71% of employees agree that teleworking has a favourable influence on their overall attitude toward the job, suggesting telework opportunities are important for retaining employees.
- Productivity was rated significantly higher on a range of measures by hybrid teleworkers, with ratings up to 12% higher for teleworkers, suggesting a meaningful difference in output.
- 73% say using teleworking technologies fits well with the way they like to work.
- 58% agree they get more of their priority activities completed when they telework and only 4% agree teleworking makes it difficult to communicate and collaborate with colleagues. The key enablers of successful telework are trust, good management and the right technology, but organisations could provide teleworkers with more support and structure
- 70% agree that their manager trusts them to be productive and focused on work outcomes while teleworking.
- Nearly half of teleworkers (47%) say their employer or manager is aware they telework but there is no formal telework policy or agreement in place and less than 50% have received telework-related training across areas such as management of teleworkers, providing a safe and healthy work environment in alignment with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OH&S), and the effective use of technology to stay connected with colleagues and work systems with the appropriate levels of security.
Authors: Professor Tim Bentley, NZ Work Research Institute, AUT University; Dr Laurie McLeod, NZ Work Research Institute, AUT University; Dr Rachelle Bosua, Dr Marianne Gloet, University of Melbourne; Professor Stephen Teo, NZ Work Research Institute, AUT University; Professor Erling Rasmussen, NZ Work Research Institute, AUT University; Professor Felix Tan, Department of Information Systems, AUT University.