Want an Honest Employee? Hire a Teleworker

As if you didn’t need more reasons to implement telework, a recent study from the Ethisphere Institute and Jones Lang LaSalle suggest that employees who work from home are more honest than their office-bound counterparts.  More than 200 firms participated in the survey and 68 percent of the companies surveyed allowed employees to work from home.  Of these companies, 89 percent reported having no ethics violations during the past two years among their work-from-home employees!  (I can almost touch my own halo right now.)  Only 64 percent of the companies surveyed reported the same for their traditional, office-bound workers. 

Intuitively, this makes sense.  Certain types of misconduct, from harassment to theft, should decrease once employees are no longer working elbow to elbow with others.  Years ago when I worked in a traditional office environment, the office supply closet would mysteriously get emptied out at the beginning of the school year.  What a coincidence.  Or, when the company used to allow free sodas, juices, and bottled water in the breakroom, entire cases would go missing overnight.  Even more serious types of misconduct, such as fraud, may be more difficult for teleworkers since it often takes more than one employee to commit the crime.  Alternatively, it could be the result of teleworker selection.  Managers may be selecting their best, most trustworthy employees to work from home. Or, teleworkers may be more conscientious because they fear any reason that may drag them back into the office on a fulltime basis.

Regardless of the reason, you can add ‘teleworker trustworthiness’ or simply ‘reduced misconduct’ to the list of benefits in your telework business case.  We’ve all heard about studies that show how teleworkers are more productive, loyal, and happier, but now we get to add honest to list.  While you craft this into your value proposition to sell to senior management, I’ll be waiting for the study that shows how teleworkers are better looking and live longer than cubicle dwellers (and I hear teleworkers don’t suffer from male pattern baldness, but that may be just a rumor).    

 What are your thoughts?  Do you think teleworkers are more ethical?




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