Telecommuting does more good than harm to businesses, according to a group of psychologists that examined 20 years' worth of studies on flexible work arrangements.
The team conducted a meta-analysis of 46 studies on telecommuting, which together surveyed 12,833 participants.
"Our results show that telecommuting has an overall beneficial effect because the arrangement provides employees with more control over how they do their work," said lead author Ravi S Gajendran.
The principle findings were that telecommuting resulted in higher morale and job satisfaction, and lower employee stress and turnover.
"We found that telecommuters reported more job satisfaction, less motivation to leave the company, less stress, improved work-family balance, and higher performance ratings by supervisors."
According to the researchers, the benefits arose both from working unsupervised and having the ability to manage their home and family lives while working.
The researchers were surprised that telecommuting was detrimental in only a few specific circumstances: employees who worked away from their offices for three or more days a week reported a worsening of relationships with coworkers.
"Telecommuting has a clear upside: small but favourable effects on perceived autonomy, work-family conflict, job satisfaction, performance, turnover intent and stress," the authors said. "Contrary to expectations in both academic and practitioner literatures, telecommuting has no straightforward, damaging effects on the quality of workplace relationships or perceived career prospects."