How does telework influence the manager-employee relationship ?


International Journal of Human Resources Development and Management

octobre 2004, vol. 4, n°4, pp.358-374

Départements : Comptabilité et Contrôle de Gestion

Companies are sometimes reluctant to implement telework in their teams because managers may lose control over their teleworking employees. The question we try to answer in this paper is: Does telework have an impact on the manager-employee relationship and, if so, what sort of impact is it? We first propose a literature review on this theme. We then restitute the empirical results of a case study realised in a salespeople team of home-based teleworkers. Through the analysis of e-mails, in-depth interviews, and direct observation, we show that: telework reduces formal communication between employees and their direct manager while it develops interpretation bias. It facilitates communication between distant hierarchical levels, reducing the importance of professional and social status. Telework increases employees' autonomy towards their manager. One of the only ways for the manager to evaluate teleworkers is to devote their accountability to results. Overall, telework reduces the importance of the manager in the employee's professional concerns