Is there a unique psychology of remote working? Or is it just the same as everyday office work, just in a different location? We’ve taken a look at the current evidence to find out.
You hear a lot of claims about the psychology of remote working. It sounds like sense when someone tells you that people’s relationships with their colleagues or supervisor will always suffer because of remote working, as they spend less time around each other. Sometimes people use general principles of psychology, along with a few cherry-picked studies, to make big claims about the effects of remote working. But common-sense arguments or plausible sounding claims are not real data. They are simply a way of promoting or criticizing remote working without much substance. But there is accurate information out there. So, what is the real evidence about the psychological effects of remote working?
Check out our visualisation to find out:
You might think that a subject as contentious and potentially disruptive as remote working would have attracted a lot of studies – and you would be right. But the quality of these studies is another issue entirely.
There are a number of vested interests in remote working, from those with a commercial interest all the way through to those who are simply big proponents of the idea. Such interests do not necessary result in a bad study, but they can bias those that are poorly designed. There are other issues that can arise too: Small sample sizes, especially when the technology was relatively new, and difficult to measure outcomes like productivity.
Luckily, meta-analyses can overcome this, by looking at a number of good studies at once. A great meta-analysis of every study on remote working up until 2007 was published in the peer-review Journal of Applied Psychology in the same year. In total they originally looked at 212 studies, getting rid of 166 that were missing data. The final analysis, from the remaining 46 studies, looked at nearly 13,000 remote workers.
And what exactly did they find about the working habits and psychology of remote workers? Download our latest visualization to find out.
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