Thanks, but no thanks: Preferences towards teleworking colleagues in public organizations

Valentina Mele*, Nicola Bellé, Maria Cucciniello

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Over the last decades, one of the most significant changes in the workplaces of government agencies around the world has been the introduction of telework. The relatively scant public administration research on this innovation and on its semantic or substantive variations such as telecommuting, home-work, remote work, and smart work has examined its effects on teleworkers and only recently on non-teleworkers. However, scholars have overlooked the relational dynamics triggered by telework. This is the focus of our study. We start by connecting telework with specific features of public bureaucracies, such as control, modularity, and the separation of professional and personal life. Next, we explore through a mixed-methods design a relational dynamic overlooked by previous studies, that is, the preferences of non-teleworkers towards teleworking colleagues and the motives behind them. Results from a discrete choice experiment with over 1,000 non-teleworking public employees revealed a remarkably strong preference toward non-teleworkers. A qualitative follow-up based on semi-structured interviews found the workplace collective as the locus of the tensions caused by telework and illuminated critical issues perceived by non-teleworkers, ensuring a more fine-grained understanding of the impacts of flexible work arrangements on the functioning of public organizations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)790-805
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of public administration research and theory
Issue number4
Early online date29 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021


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