Teleworking Telecommuting's Emergence as a Term Paper

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The Herzberg two-plane model that includes an upper plane of "motivator" factors, which are those factors that lead to high job satisfaction are compared to the "hygiene" factors that are enablers of stability in any work environment. Motivator factors include achievement, recognition; work itself, responsibility, advancement, and growth, while hygiene factors include company policies, relationships with supervisors, work conditions, salary, relationship with peers, personal life, and relationships with subordinates, status, and security. These factors overall are critical for the development of a motivated and stable workforce. The implications of these factors on the job satisfaction and attitudes of telecommuters form the research foundation of this paper and also look to provide an indication of how teleworkers keep their work/life balance in equilibrium.

Method

The main objectives of this study are:

To provide further understanding of why workers choose to telecommute in the context of their work/life balance objectives.

To define the demographic segments that are emerging that have the potential to create a new definition of telecommuters and the reasons behind their choice of this specific type of work arrangement.

To provide an understanding of what aspects of telecommuting jobs contribute or detract from job satisfaction. In the past, a widespread of ad hoc scales measuring job satisfaction has been used and the psychometric properties of these ad hoc scales are largely unsubstantiated (Kinicki, Schriesheim, McKee-Ryan, & Carson, 2002).

To validate that the Internet has become equally balanced as a media source relative to television and newspaper in the context of a telecommuters' use to stay informed.

This research was designed to measure the level of satisfaction for a telecommuting population and to determine the relationship between hours spent telecommuting and a variety of job characteristics defined in the Job Diagnostic Survey. The sample consisted of telecommuters from a software company who ranged in types of occupations. There was an attempt to collect data from people that ranged from very little hours spent telecommuting to "all" of their work time telecommuting the population was asked to respond to the Job Diagnostic Survey (JDS) online over four-week period of time. The participants were asked to provide identifying information in the demographic section that would allow the researcher to match demographic characteristics to their responses across dimensions of the survey.

Participants were asked to voluntarily participate in the study. All data were collected online. The survey was the JDS as authored by Hackman and Oldham, and the five job characteristics were the primary measures for hypotheses testing (autonomy, feedback, task identity, task significance, & skill variety). The survey included 83 items and 14 demographic questions. Once the data were collected, they were cleaned and analyzed using the statistical analyses described later in the data analysis section. This section will outline the sample, instruments, research design, and data analyses methods.

Sample

The sample consisted of 153 participants. A participant was defined as an individual who was presently in a telecommuting working relationship as a full time employee with their employer, and had been with the organization for at least 12 months. Of the 153 participants, the number of hours spent telecommuting in a given week was not controlled.

The data collection was conducted online. The experimenter put the JDS online, drafted an invitation, as all participation was voluntary, and sent by the VP of HR on behalf of the experimenter. In addition to the data collected from the organization regarding the JDS, participants were asked to provide self-ratings of the importance they placed on telecommuting, their general satisfaction and a variety of other questions that were developed to provide demographic level detail. These items were captured in the demographics section of the survey.

One industry was represented: the industry is best described as software development and sales in the insurance sector. Company a will be the nominal reference throughout this document. Company a was a fast-growing organization that had been in operation for 55 years and employed 500 people. This company provided software that assisted insurance carriers in the process of validating and detecting the accuracy of insurance claims for the auto and medical sectors within the larger insurance sector.

The sample ranged occupationally from software engineers to customer service representatives whom are more "business to business" in that they are solving software and technical issues for the insurance companies rather than an individual consumer per se. There were technical writers, customer service professionals and software engineers in the sample.

The criteria were set by which the participants would be selected. First, all participants had to have been employed by the organization for at least 1 year prior to the study (this information was obtained in the demographics section by asking for "company tenure"). Second, all participants had to have worked in a telecommuting work arrangement for at least 6 months (this information was collected by the VP of HR). Job responsibilities were not a criteria for entry into the survey, rather we asked several questions in the demographic section that were meant to ascertain the tenure, level, and relative job responsibilities at a high level.

Demographic Variables

The demographic variables that will be measured include: (a) tenure, (b) job category, (d) level in company, (e) why the participant chooses to telecommute (f) gender, (g) hours worked per week, (j) hours spent telecommuting per week, (k) number of children, (l) marital status, (m) self satisfaction, (n) presence or absence of a home office, (o) distance from the workplace, (p) whether the participant has a spouse who works from home, and (q) level of education. These 14 questions were added at the end of the survey. Past literature and interesting findings from previous literature were used in selecting many of the demographic variables. For instance, Yap and Tng's (1990) research findings provide rationale for collecting demographic information specific to this study. They found that having an available work-space at home and being married rather than single were demographic characteristics related to positive attitudes towards telecommuting.

Research Instruments used for measuring Job Characteristics and Satisfaction

The Job Diagnostic Survey (JDS), developed in 1975 by Hackman and Oldham, is based on the Job Characteristics Model, a theory of how job design affects work motivation. The JDS is a diagnostic tool designed to measure the characteristics of jobs in organizations and the reaction of people to their jobs. Specifically, the JDS measures: a) objective job dimensions (including skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and feedback); b) supplementary job characteristic scales (including feedback from others and dealing with others); c) individual psychological states resulting from these dimensions (including meaningfulness of work, responsibility for work outcomes, and knowledge of results); and d) affective reactions of employees to the job and work setting (general satisfaction, internal work motivation, and satisfaction with opportunity for development and growth; Hackman & Oldham, 1975).

All five of these job characteristics contribute to "experiences," those experiences are referred to by Hackman and Oldham as "psychological states." These experiences of work, or psychological experiences, then contribute to affective outcomes like internal work motivation, quality work performance, satisfaction with the work, and/or absenteeism and turnover.

The JDS taps into overall level of motivation and satisfaction through 83 items broken down into seven sections. Sections one through six employ 7-point response scales. While section seven used 5-point response scales. The scales for each section intend to measure a specific job characteristics which include: (a) skill variety, (b) task identity, - task significance, (e) feedback from the job itself, (f) feedback from others, (g) dealing with others, and (h) autonomy.

Hackman & Oldham's (1980) use a specific scoring scheme to score their items. For each measured scale of the JDS, the items yielded a sum score for the scale. All reversed scored items were also taken into consideration by the scoring scheme.

Table 1 presents the internal consistency reliability of each of the objective and supplementary job characteristic scales and critical psychological states measured in the JDS (Hackman & Oldham, 1980). The results section of this study will report the specific internal consistency for this population. The median correlations are also included in this table, referred to as the median off-diagonal correlation. The median off-diagonal correlation is the "median correlation of the items scored on a given scale with all of the items scored on different scales of the same type of variable" (p. 164). For example, the median off-diagonal correlation for task identity (.12) is the median correlation of all items measuring task identity with all items that measure the other six job dimensions as well. One indication that there is discriminant validity of the items is the median off-diagonal correlations are smaller than the internal consistency reliabilities.

The JDS was primarily developed to use in work redesign, specifically the diagnosis of job prior to their redesign and assessing the effects of redesigning jobs on the people who do them (Hackman & Oldham, 1975). Although, Hackman and Oldham (1975) found that the diagnostic use of the JDS did not stop there and found that…[continue]

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