Is telework effective for organizations?

Brittany Harker Martin (Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada)
Rhiannon MacDonnell (Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada)

Management Research Review

ISSN: 2040-8269

Publication date: 15 June 2012

Abstract

Purpose

Telework is an alternative work relationship with demonstrated positive benefits for individuals and society, yet it has not been implemented with enthusiasm by most organizations. This could be due to the lacking, consolidated evidence for management regarding whether or not telework is a good thing for the firm. The purpose of this paper is to integrate multidisciplinary literature that reports effects of telework on organizational outcomes with the aim of providing a clearer answer to the question: is telework effective for organizations?

Design/methodology/approach

Meta‐analytical methods were used, beginning with an interdisciplinary search for effect sizes in eight databases. Limited to scholarly journals and dissertations, results included 991 articles scanned for inclusion criteria. The independent variable is telework, measured as a dichotomous variable. Dependent variables are outcomes of interest to organizations: productivity, retention, turnover intention, commitment, and performance. In total, 22 studies were double coded and meta‐analyzed using Hunter and Schmidt's approach, followed by five exploratory moderator analyses: level of analysis, level of the employee, response rate, proportion of females, and country of the study. Significant results are discussed.

Findings

Review and meta analysis of 32 correlations from empirical studies find that there is a small but positive relationship between telework and organizational outcomes. Telework is perceived to increase productivity, secure retention, strengthen organizational commitment, and to improve performance within the organization. In other words, it is indeed beneficial for organizations. All five hypotheses are supported. H1 (productivity), rc=0.23 (k=5, n=620), (95% CI=0.13−0.33). H2 (retention), r=0.10 (k=6, n=1652), (95% CI=0.04−0.16). H3 (commitment), r=0.11 (k=8, n=3144), (95% CI=0.03−0.18); moderator analysis shows sample age is significant (F(1,4)=4.715, p<0.05, R2=0.80). H4 (performance), r=0.16 (k=10, n=2522). H5 (organizational outcomes), r=0.17 (k=19, n=5502), (95% CI=0.1−0.20).

Originality/value

To the authors' knowledge, this is the first meta‐analysis of telework research at the organizational level, providing a unique contribution to the field in filling the gap between research on effects to the individual and society. Additional contributions resulted from the moderator analyses: first, in finding that the relationship between telework and performance is moderated by whether or not the sample was one individual per firm, or many individuals from one; and second, in finding that the relationship between telework and organizational commitment is moderated by age. Thus, the paper provides unique contributions with both scholarly and practical implications.

Keywords

Citation

Brittany Harker Martin and Rhiannon MacDonnell (2012) "Is telework effective for organizations?", Management Research Review, Vol. 35 No. 7, pp. 602-616

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DOI

: https://doi.org/10.1108/01409171211238820

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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