Tag Archives: ethics of telecommuting/transportation

Telecommuting raises ethics

We’ve been hinting at it for years but now there’s a study that claims that telecommuters are more ethical than their in-office colleagues. I was alerted to the study by an article on the GigaOm website titled: How to make your team more ethical: Let them telecommute. One of the three key findings in the 17 August 2011 report by Ethisphere was:

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.

Although the overall study was focused on the impact of open offices on ethics, this was an interesting result. Ethisphere surveyed more than 200 companies to arrive at their conclusion. Two primary factors in this ethical superiority of home-based workers were, according to Ethisphere (I’m paraphrasing a little):

  • Lower levels of temptation as a consequence of less frequent mischief opportunities away form the office; and
  • Greater concern that any straying from the path of righteousness might end in a call to come back to the dreaded office.

That is: “If I do my job and don’t screw up I can keep on working like this, feeling more in control of my life and, wonderfully, avoid those grinding commutes!”

Sounds good to me.

The moral imperative

A recent article by Daniel Gilbert in Nature, titled Buried by bad decisions, made me rethink approaches to encouraging telework. Gilbert’s point is that humans often make bad decisions; decisions that seem sensible but aren’t because “they tend to focus on what we are getting and forget about what we are foregoing”. Gilbert continues:

For example, people are more likely to buy an item when they are asked to choose between buying or not buying it than when they are asked to choose between buying the item and keeping their money “for other purchases”. Although “not buying” and “keeping one’s money” are the same thing. . . .We will change our lives to save a child but not our light bulbs to save them all.

This description would be amusing if it were not for the fact that humanity is rushing headlong toward serious trouble because of such decision processes. Continue reading The moral imperative