Why men and women choose telecommuting
Compared to other flexible work practices such as flexitime, telecommuting imports work into the home environment, with potential spillover effects. A qualitative study investigated gender differences in reasons for choice of telecommuting, and perceived advantages and disadvantages of this work practice. Focus groups of employees in a public sector department (male telecommuters, female telecommuters, male non-telecommuters, female non-telecommuters) were interviewed and audio-taped. Six months later, male and female telecommuters were re-interviewed. Content analysis developed themes, with the salience or importance of each theme represented by the percentage of comments on that theme. Lifestyle and time management were the most salient advantages, but were less salient after telecommuting, suggesting that benefits are less than predicted. The most salient disadvantage was communication issues, suggesting concerns maintaining adequate communication with clients and colleagues. Men were more concerned than women that family may interfere with work, with a comparison of results before and after telecommuting suggesting that men may over-estimate, and women under-estimate this difficulty. Women were more concerned about potential spillover of work to family, and this was particularly an issue for women choosing not to accept the telecommuting option.
Combined Abstracts of 2005 Australian Psychology Conferences