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Employee isolation and telecommuter organizational commitment

Wendy Wang (Department of Information Management Technology and Computer Science, Trident University International, Cypress, California, USA)
Leslie Albert (School of Information Systems and Technology, San Jose State University, San Jose, California, USA)
Qin Sun (Department of Marketing, David Nazarian College of Business and Economics, California State University, Northridge, California, USA)

Employee Relations

ISSN: 0142-5455

Article publication date: 21 February 2020

Issue publication date: 26 March 2020




In light of the increasing popularity of telecommuting, this study investigates how telecommuters' organizational commitment may be linked to psychological and physical isolation. Psychological isolation refers to feelings of emotional unfulfillment when one lacks meaningful connections, support, and interactions with others, while physical isolation refers to physical separation from others.


An online survey was used to collect data from 446 employees who telecommute one or more days per week.


The results of this study indicate that telecommuters' affective commitment is negatively associated with psychological isolation, whereas their continuance commitment is positively correlated with both psychological and physical isolation. These findings imply that telecommuters may remain with their employers due to perceived benefits, a desire to conserve resources such as time and emotional energy, or weakened marketability, rather than emotional connections to their colleagues or organizations.

Practical implications

Organizations wishing to retain and maximize the contributions of telecommuters should pursue measures that address collocated employees' negative assumptions toward telecommuters, preserve the benefits of remote work, and cultivate telecommuters' emotional connections (affective commitment) and felt obligation (normative commitment) to their organizations.


Through the creative integration of the need-to-belong and relational cohesion theories, this study contributes to the telecommuting and organizational commitment literature by investigating the dynamics between both psychological and physical isolation and telecommuters' organizational commitment.



Wang, W., Albert, L. and Sun, Q. (2020), "Employee isolation and telecommuter organizational commitment", Employee Relations, Vol. 42 No. 3, pp. 609-625.



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