Telework: Timesaving or Time-Consuming?

Peters, P., Wetzels, C.M.M.P., Tijdens, K.G. (2008) Telework: Timesaving or Time-Consuming? An Investigation into Actual Working Hours. The Journal of Interdisciplinary Economics, 19, 421–442. (EN).

This paper aims to clarify the relationship between telework and the actual time employees put into their jobs. One of the reported threats to teleworkers’ personal lives is that in order to finish their work, they not only use up saved commuting time, but also part of their non-working hours, even to the extent of becoming workaholics. Recent empirical analyses show that teleworkers do seem to work longer hours than non-teleworkers. Yet there is an interesting observation to be made: teleworkers are not found to work longer hours when compared with employees who are given the teleworking option but not taking it. One might hypothesise, therefore, that there might be other factors accounting for the longer working hours of teleworkers (and of “teleworkable” job-holders), rather than teleworking as such. For that reason, the effect of teleworking on working hours was controlled for job and pay system characteristics. In line with expectations, salaried work, higher wages and some fringe benefits accounted for longer hours, and telework did not. Therefore, telework may be rightly used as an HRM-tool to attract and/or retain (scarce) personnel, for it allows employees to save commuting time and, consequently, contributes to a better work-home balance.