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Exploratory analysis of factors influencing performance dynamics of telecommuters and traditional office workers

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3 Author(s)
Watson-Manheim, M.B. ; Dept. of Inf. & Decision Sci., Illinois Univ., Chicago, IL, USA ; Piramuthu, S. ; Narasimhan, S.

Advances in information technology are enabling the formation of new work arrangements, where employees may perform work activities at any location, at any time. This includes remote locations such as an employee's home or a satellite office. When employees work remotely, there are fewer opportunities for face-to-face (FTF) communication, and more communication occurs in non-FTF modes. Communication is a crucial component of the work process and can affect the performance of work activities. Clearly, the resources necessary to provide an effective work environment are different for traditional and remote workers. It is thus critical to identify and study the dynamics of this environment to foster effective job performance. The authors are particularly interested in the use of communication to coordinate work activities and the resulting effect on performance. We investigate the difference in use of formal, informal, and electronic coordination techniques in the remote and traditional work environments. We also investigate the influence of job characteristics and information technology (IT) factors on job performance in both work environments. The study was conducted through a survey of a large number of telecommuters and a control group of nontelecommuters in eight firms in Atlanta (USA). We use inductive learning to identify patterns of behavior present in the data. Results from the study indicate communication needs in this work environment are much more complex than previously recognized. The research indicates that the method of use of communication channels and the communication partner must be considered, in addition to the work environment of the individual to provide an atmosphere conducive to good performance. We also found that job characteristics and IT factors had differing effects on the groups which should be explored further

Published in:

Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, Part C: Applications and Reviews, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:30 ,  Issue: 2 )