Business & Information Systems Engineering

Document Type

Research Paper


Telework became a necessary work arrangement during the global COVID-19 pandemic. However, practical evidence even before the pandemic also suggests that telework can adversely affect teleworkers’ colleagues working in the office. Those regular office workers may experience negative emotions such as envy which, in turn, can impact work performance and turnover intention. In order to assess the adverse effects of telework on regular office workers, the study applies social comparison theory and suggests telework disparity as a new theoretical concept. From the perspective of regular office workers, perceived telework disparity is the extent to which they compare their office working situation with their colleagues’ teleworking situation and conclude that their teleworking colleagues are slightly better off than themselves. Based on social comparison theory, a model of how perceived disparity associated with telework causes negative emotions and adverse behaviors among regular office workers was developed. The data were collected in one organization with telework arrangements (N = 269). The results show that perceived telework disparity from the perspective of regular office workers increases their feelings of envy toward teleworkers and their job dissatisfaction, which is associated with higher turnover intentions and worse job performance. This study contributes to telework research by revealing a dark side of telework by conceptualizing telework disparity and its negative consequences for employees and organizations. For practice, the paper recommends making telework practices and policies as transparent as possible to realize the maximum benefits of telework.