An unanswered question regarding telework is how differences in workplace distraction levels influence the effect of the extent of telework on productivity. Drawing from research and theory on cognitive overload and distraction conflict, we developed a quasi-field experiment to test the influence of so-called 'distraction gains' (indicating lower distraction levels at home compared to the office work environment) on the telework-productivity relationship. The results of our study (N=141) show that distraction gains will increase the positive effect of telework on productivity for knowledge workers (i.e. those with high levels of task complexity, novelty and nonroutineness). A subgroup characterized by low knowledge work did not show any relationship between telework and productivity. This study provides much needed longitudinal research findings on the relationship between telework and productivity, and may serve as a basis for future studies on the importance of situational factors regarding telework.

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Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Erasmus University

van der Meulen, N., van Baalen, P., & van Heck, E. (2012). Please, do not disturb. telework, distractions, and the productivity of the knowledge worker. Retrieved from