The New York Times reported on a new study by Professor Kevin Rockmann and Micheal G. Pratt that suggests that people who choose to work in the office where off-site work is freely allowed end up feeling lonely and disconnected.
The study followed people who chose to come into the office because they wanted social interaction but found themselves lacking in chances to encounter their co-workers in the hallways, at lunch, or in the break room. In an interview, Rochmann said, “The office essentially became this isolated wasteland.”
Telecommuting has become a workplace trend of considerable popularity in recent years — it’s easy for companies to offer it as a tempting perk. Workers are able to eliminate commutes and personally tailor their schedules.
Companies are able to save money on office space and employ talented individuals remotely. According to the American Management Associate, companies that implemented telework programs also saw a 63% reduction in workers unscheduled absences.
But this new study suggests that the people remaining in-office deserve some more consideration. According to the findings, the decision to work from home was contagious. Basically, people started working from home because other people were working from home. A manager in the study was quoted as saying, “In some ways, teamwork no longer existed.”
Consistent team interaction is stressed as being particularly important in the study. Physical interactions build a “level of depth and trust that is simply not available with other methods, partly because people are better able to pick up on nonverbal behaviors,” said Rockmann.
The study, which was conducted through George Mason University and Boston College, surveyed Fortune 100 companies in Silicon Valley. Professor Rockmann asserts that his study is not a condemnation of telecommuting but a warning that the whole team needs to be considered when deciding how to implement the work-life balance that telecommuting introduces.