Are Telecommuters Remotely Good Citizens? Unpacking Telecommuting's Effects on Performance Via I-Deals and Job Resources

Authors


  • We would like to thank Subra Tangirala, Greg Northcraft, Jayashree Ravi, members of the SPO Brownbag and LER speaker series at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and members of the ORG group at Pennsylvania State University for their helpful advice and comments on earlier versions of this paper. This research also benefitted from advice and feedback from faculty at the Indian School of Business (ISB) during Ravi Gajendran's visit as an ISB Visiting Scholar.

Abstract

Despite their widespread adoption, concerns remain that virtual work arrangements can harm employee job performance and citizenship behavior. Does telecommuting really hamper these critical dimensions of employee effectiveness? To answer this question, we develop a theoretical framework linking telecommuting to task and contextual performance via a dual set of mechanisms—reflecting proposed effects of i-deals and job resources. Further, we propose that the meaning of and outcomes from these paths depend on the social context surrounding telecommuting. We test the framework with field data from 323 employees and 143 matched supervisors across a variety of organizations. As predicted, we find that telecommuting is positively associated with task and contextual performance, directly and indirectly via perceived autonomy. These beneficial effects are contingent upon two aspects of the social context: leader-member exchange and signals of its normative appropriateness among coworkers and one's supervisor.

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