Are teleworkers happier?

Kathryn Fonner, Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

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President Obama signed the telework bill into law on Thursday, expanding telework opportunities for federal employees.

Sponsors of the bill say telework saves costs and makes workers more productive. But can working remotely also make you happier?

A recent study published by the National Communications Association shows that employees who telework the majority of the workweek are less stressed and more satisfied with their jobs.

Working in an office has inherent distractions, such as meetings and interruptions, that create stress, said one of the study’s researchers, Kathryn Fonner, an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Telework allows employees to focus on the work and structure their day so the job is not “continually spilling” into their personal life, Fonner said in an interview with the DorobekINSIDER.

One of the common myths about telework is that employees will miss out on communications and access to data. In other words, they are “out of sight, out of mind.”

Although office-based workers get a greater quantity of information, the access to the information is the same for both office workers and teleworkers, according to the study.

“Teleworkers are experiencing less information overload,” Fonner said.

In the federal government, agencies that have embraced telework have already demonstrated the benefits of increased productivity and a boost to morale, said Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.), one of the telework bill’s sponsors.

“Where there’s that focus on results. it produces a culture that focuses on results that cuts across the whole agency,” Sarbanes said.

Fonner said some organizations are trying to recreate the benefits of telework within the office. To help workers concentrate, some offices designate a time and place for employees to work uninterrupted, Fonner said.

Read Fonner’s article on the National Communications Association website.

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