Remote work, also called distance working, telework, teleworking, working from home (WFH), mobile work, remote job, and work from anywhere (WFA) is an employment arrangement in which employees do not commute to a central place of work, such as an office building, warehouse, or retail store.
Remote work is facilitated by technology such as collaborative software, local area networks, virtual private networks, conference calling, videotelephony, internet access, cloud computing, voice over IP (VoIP), mobile telecommunications technology such as a Wi-Fi-equipped laptop or tablet computers, smartphones, and desktop computers with landline phones.
Remote work can be efficient and useful for companies since it allows workers to communicate over long distances, saving significant amounts of travel time and cost. Common software used for remote work are Zoom, Cisco Webex, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Slack, and WhatsApp.
Potential benefits and drawbacks
Telecommuting has been adopted by many businesses, governments and not-for-profit organizations. Organizations may use telecommuting to reduce costs. Telecommuting employees do not require an office or cubicle, a space which needs to be rented or purchased, and incurs additional costs such as lighting and climate control. Some organizations adopt telecommuting to improve workers' quality of life, as teleworking typically reduces commuting time and time stuck in traffic congestion.
Teleworking may make it easier for workers to balance their work responsibilities with their personal life and family roles (e.g., caring for children or elderly parents). Some organizations adopt teleworking for environmental reasons, as telework can reduce traffic congestion and air pollution, with fewer cars on the roads.
Autonomy: increased freedom and fewer time restrictions
Autonomy influences experienced responsibility such that if the job provides freedom, independence, and scheduling flexibility, the individual should feel responsible for his or her work outcomes. Telework provides flexibility in scheduling and freedom because being outside the office gives the worker more choices. Teleworkers do not have to stick to office routines and can shift work to different times of day.
Sociotechnical systems theory: remote work provides freedom to decide how and when to do tasks and more responsibility
Sociotechnical systems (STS) theory explains the interaction between social and technological factors. STS examines the relationships between people, technology, and the work environment to design work in a way that enhances job satisfaction and increases productivity. Originally developed to explain the paradox of improved technology but decreased productivity.
2007 meta-analysis of advantages and disadvantages
A 2007 meta-analysis of 46 studies of telecommuting involving 12,833 employees conducted by Ravi Gajendran and David A. Harrison in the Journal of Applied Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association (APA), found that telecommuting has largely positive consequences for employees and employers. In their meta-analytic study, Gajendran and Harrison found that telecommuting had modest but beneficial effects on employees' job satisfaction, perceived autonomy, stress levels, manager-rated job performance, and (lower) work-family conflict. Telecommuting also reduces turnover intent, or the intention to quit one's job. Increased job satisfaction, decreased turnover intent and role stress related to telecommuting partly because of a decrease in work-family conflict. Additionally, the increase in autonomy from teleworking in turn increases job satisfaction.
More pressure on remote workers to show worth
Employees who telework may feel pressure to produce more output in order to be seen as valuable, and reduce the idea that they are doing less work than others. This pressure to produce output, as well as a lack of social support from limited coworker relationships and feelings of isolation, leads to lower job engagement in teleworkers.