The fast growing trend across Europe and North America towards working from home raises questions for both workers and managers as to how such employees can be best managed and whether they will work as hard as their office based colleagues?
Recent research concerning job performance of employees working from home by Nick van der Meulen of Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) suggests it not to be driven by managerial or peer control as previously thought. Instead his study of data from 1450 work at home employees from four separate organisations showed job performance to be driven by employee self-regulation and decision-making freedom.
The study involved obtaining data from employees and managers regarding the relationship and frequency of communication between them, the extent to which the employee worked from home, job performance, manager trust and peer monitoring.
Commenting on how best to control teleworking employees Nick van der Meulen said “the boundaries of the office structure have changed and with it management has had to shift its approach”. He went on to explain that in order to get the most from employees managers should trust and allow them the freedom to decide how best to do their jobs. Any failure to do so would be severely detrimental to job performance and fail to prevent negative work behaviours.
He further detailed how managers should communicate with employees several times a week to support them and maintain a trusting relationship which would facilitate the provision of employee autonomy.
The study also highlighted the need to avoid some managerial practices, including monitoring work using ICTs, the setting of short to medium term targets and unfair treatment, with such practices stifling opportunistic behaviour and adversely impacting upon healthy working relationships with employees.