In my conversations with HR and Operations leaders they have said that the anecdotal evidence suggests that telecommuting reduces ethics violations and over all HR issues. Now a study by Ethisphere seems to confirm that. Ethisphere Institute is a leading international think-tank dedicated to the creation, advancement and sharing of best practices in business ethics, corporate social responsibility, anti-corruption and sustainability.
Ethisphere’s study, completed in mid August, focused on the impact of “open workspace” and telecommuting on improving ethical behavior. The study does an excellent job quantifying the impact that “open workspaces” and telecommuting have on ethical behavior.
When the Ethisphere study asked whether employees who work from home regularly had committed an ethics violation during the past two years, 89 percent of respondents said ‘no’. One of the reasons cited for this result was “work from home strategies can remove the temptation of misconduct given the employee is generally more removed from common misconduct opportunities…” .
“Open workspace” can also be a key component of an over all work from home strategy. Providing open, transparent nesting areas for employees can a more efficient, less costly real estate solution than traditional corporate office spaces. The study had some interesting data on the impact of “open workspace” on ethics:
- The vast majority of those surveyed (81 percent) believe that open office plans, which cause staff to be more visible to one another, generally promote improved ethical behavior when compared to having individual offices.
- The statistics indicate that implementing open workspace environments appears to be making an impact, as the majority of respondents (64 percent) have not had any visible ethical violations within the past two years.
- Sixty-eight percent of responding companies allow their employees to work from home on a regular basis. Of those, 89 percent reported having no ethics violations during the past two years among their work-from-home employees.
Why does this matter? The study really doesn’t make that clear. So I thought I’d attempt to look into this myself. I did find an article on Enzine Articles that provided some insight to the cost of ethics violations on business and the public. According to the article titled “….Business Ethics are Worse than Ever” the National Fraud center found that “…in 1970 economic crime cost the nation $5 billion, not but a decade later cost $20 billion, and $100 billion in 1990. It was estimated that in 2006 the calculated cost was up to 1.3 trillion. ” The Enzine article also said that a 2002 study from the National Report to the Nation “…. informed private citizens that cases of fraud by themselves had ended up costing over $600 billion”.
You can read both articles by clicking on the links below. As always I hope you find them informative. If you have any information on the impact of work at home on ethics please share.