Does telework hurt office dynamics? Depends whom you ask

Saturday - 10/22/2011, 2:30pm EDT

By Julia Ziegler
Federal News Radio

In the coming years, more and more federal government employees and members of the private sector are expected to telework. But how will a decrease in face-to-face, in-person contact change relationships between workers and how will it impact their ability to accomplish day-to-day tasks? According to the results of a Federal News Radio survey, it really depends whom you ask.

Teleworkers are more likely than non-teleworkers to believe that telework does not hurt office dynamics. Only 24 percent of those that telework at least one day a week said they strongly agree or somewhat agree that telework harms relationships between coworkers. But 46 percent of non-teleworkers agreed with the same statement.

837 people took Federal News Radio's online survey between Oct. 16-22, 2011. Of those that responded, 92 percent were federal employees, 6 percent were government contractors and 2 percent said they didn't fit into either category. 50 percent of respondents said they don't telework at all, 25 percent said they telework one day per week, 14 percent two days per week, and 11 percent said they telework three or more days a week.

The more someone teleworks also seems to have an effect on how close they believe they are with their coworkers. 72 percent of teleworkers believe they are just as close to their teleworking colleagues as their non-teleworking colleagues. Only 54 percent of non-teleworkers believe the same.

Teleworkers also are less likely to believe group work is more difficult when some members of the group are teleworking. Only 22 percent of those that telework three days or more per week strongly or somewhat agree that group work is negatively impacted when telework is involved. 38 percent of those that telework one or two days a week believe the same. However, 54 percent of non-teleworkers believe group work is more difficult.

While 50 percent of non-teleworkers strongly or somewhat disagree that face-to-face, in-person contact is needed to get their jobs done efficiently and quickly, the number is even higher for teleworkers. 72 percent of those that telework one or two days a week and 82 percent of those that telework three or more days a week believe that face-to-face contact with their colleagues isn't needed to get their jobs done.

Most respondents (87 percent) agree that access to the right technology helps maintain a good group dynamic while telework is in use. But the degree to which employees believe their agencies or companies have that technology in place differs based on how much someone teleworks. Only 47 percent of non-teleworkers believe their organizations have the right telework technology in place. However, 77 percent of those that telework one or two days a week and 82 percent of those that telework three or more days a week believe their agencies provide them with the right tools to help maintain a good group dynamic while teleworking.

RAW SURVEY RESULTS

Examine the results of Federal News Radio's survey through various filters.

Answers from all respondents

Answers from all teleworkers (those who telework at least 1 day a week)

Answers from those who telework 1 or 2 days a week

Answers from those who telework 3 or more days a week

Answers from non-teleworkers