Telecommuting, professional isolation, and employee development in public and private organizations

Cecily D. Cooper, Nancy B. Kurland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

224 Scopus citations


This study employs a grounded theory methodology to compare the impact telecommuting has on public and private employees' perceptions of professional isolation, It relied on 93 semi-structured interviews with telecommuters, non-telecommuters, and their respective supervisors in two high technology firms and two city governments. These organizations had active telecommuting programmes and a strong interest in making telecommuting a successful work option, providing an opportunity to investigate the challenges of telecommuting that existed even within friendly environments. The interviews demonstrated that professional isolation of telecommuters is inextricably linked to employee development activities (inter-personal networking, informal learning, and mentoring). The extent to which telecommuters experience professional isolation depends upon the extent to which these activities are valued in the workplace and the degree to which telecommuters miss these opportunities. Public respondents appeared to value these informal developmental activities less than private employees. Therefore, we stipulate that telecommuting is less likely to hinder the professional development of public sector employees than that of employees in the private sector.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)511-532
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Organizational Behavior
Issue numberSPEC. ISS.
StatePublished - Jun 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Psychology(all)
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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