Scholarly article on topic 'Exploring the Effects of Factors on the Willingness of Female Employees to Telecommute in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia'

Exploring the Effects of Factors on the Willingness of Female Employees to Telecommute in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Academic research paper on "Economics and business"

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Abstract of research paper on Economics and business, author of scientific article — Abdul Azeez Kadar Hamsa, Mootaz M. Jaff, Mansor Ibrahim, Mohd Zin Mohamed, Rustam Khairi Zahari

Abstract Telecommuting is increasingly gaining attention in Malaysia as a means of both easing the worsening peak-hour traffic congestion, and retaining women in the workforce. Moreover, substantial evidence in the literature suggests that telecommuting is more suited to women who when compared to men, experience more work/non-work role conflict and more career interruptions. However, the incidence of actual telecommuting among female employees in Kuala Lumpur remains very limited. A survey of 454 women employed in the industries of financial intermediation, real estate, education and ICT in Kuala Lumpur, revealed that only 2% of the respondents were practicing telecommuters, and that more than a third (35%) of those who stated their ability to telecommute, were in fact unwilling to utilize that working arrangement if given the opportunity. The main aim of this study is to explore the factors contributing to the willingness to telecommute or the lack thereof. The significance of this study stems from the fact that a better understanding of what influences the willingness to telecommute is a prerequisite for the successful promotion of the practice, and thus reaping its well researched benefits. Job suitability, delay experienced in the morning commute, and the increased usage of Smartphone technology were found to have a positive correlation with the willingness to telework, whereas car ownership, household size, and the negative perceptions towards teleworking were found to have a negative correlation.

Academic research paper on topic "Exploring the Effects of Factors on the Willingness of Female Employees to Telecommute in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia"

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Transportation Research Procedia 17 (2016) 408 - 417

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11th Transportation Planning and Implementation Methodologies for Developing Countries, TPMDC 2014, 10-12 December 2014, Mumbai, India

Exploring the Effects of Factors on the Willingness of Female Employees to Telecommute in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Abdul Azeez Kadar Hamsaa, Mootaz M. Jaffb*, Mansor Ibrahima, Mohd Zin Mohameda,

Rustam Khairi Zaharia

aFaculty of Architecture and Environmental Design, International Islamic University Malaysia, P.O. Box 10, Kuala Lumpur, 50728, Malaysia bCentre for Foundation Studies, International Islamic University Malaysia, P.O. Box 10, Kuala Lumpur, 50728, Malaysia

Abstract

Telecommuting is increasingly gaining attention in Malaysia as a means of both easing the worsening peak-hour traffic congestion, and retaining women in the workforce. Moreover, substantial evidence in the literature suggests that telecommuting is more suited to women who when compared to men, experience more work/non-work role conflict and more career interruptions. However, the incidence of actual telecommuting among female employees in Kuala Lumpur remains very limited. A survey of 454 women employed in the industries of financial intermediation, real estate, education and ICT in Kuala Lumpur, revealed that only 2% of the respondents were practicing telecommuters, and that more than a third (35%) of those who stated their ability to telecommute, were in fact unwilling to utilize that working arrangement if given the opportunity. The main aim of this study is to explore the factors contributing to the willingness to telecommute or the lack thereof. The significance of this study stems from the fact that a better understanding of what influences the willingness to telecommute is a prerequisite for the successful promotion of the practice, and thus reaping its well researched benefits. Job suitability, delay experienced in the morning commute, and the increased usage of Smartphone technology were found to have a positive correlation with the willingness to telework, whereas car ownership, household size, and the negative perceptions towards teleworking were found to have a negative correlation.

© 2016 The Authors.Publishedby Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of the Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay Keywords: Telecommuting; willingness; female employees; Kuala Lumpur

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +6-017-6023583. E-mail address: mootaz_munjid@iium.edu.my

2352-1465 © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of the Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay doi: 10.1016/j.trpro.2016.11.082

1. Introduction

The benefits of promoting a telecommuting culture among female employees seem to be promising at the outset of the study. The benefits of telecommuting are to be gained specifically by the women workers at the personal level who generally find telecommuting more attractive due to the flexibility it offers (Mokhtarian et al., 1998, Beasley et al., 2001). In addition, telecommuting by female employees in Kuala Lumpur can potentially result in reduced overall demand for travel that is consistently reported in existing literatures (Mootaz and Abdul Azeez, 2013; Abdul Azeez et al., 2009), this benefit is of immense importance given the evidence from recently collected data by the authors which revealed that 45% of the sampled employees commuted to work as a driver in a single occupancy private vehicle, and only 16% used public transportation exclusively for their daily commute to work. Moreover, the nation as a whole stands to benefit from involving more women in telecommuting which has the potential in tapping working women who often choose to quit the labor force at times due to various reasons. According to the Human Resources Ministry, Malaysia has an untapped latent women workforce of 1.2 to 1.6 million who are unable to work due to different constraints. However, despite its acknowledged benefits, the incidence of actual telecommuting among female employees in Kuala Lumpur remains very limited. A survey of 454 respondents (employed in sectors that are theoretically more suited to the practice of telecommuting) revealed that just over 2% of female employees were actual telecommuters. On the other hand, more than a third (35%) of those who are able to telecommute would choose not to, whereas earlier research found that only 20% of a mixed-gender sample of employees would opt not to telecommute given the ability to do so (Abdul Azeez et al., 2009). Existing literature suggests that the perceptions towards telecommuting, socioeconomic, employment and travel characteristics may influence the willingness to telecommute (Haddad et al., 2009). The purpose of this paper is to explore the extent to which socioeconomic and household, employment related, and travel characteristics would influence the willingness of the female employees to telecommute in Kuala Lumpur. Furthermore, the perceptions of the respondents towards a number of the well documented advantages and disadvantages of telecommuting are also explored.

2. Literature review

This section provides a very brief literature review pertaining to the influence of factors on the willingness to adopt telecommuting. Socioeconomic factors have been reported to have a major influence on the willingness to telecommute. Factors such as the presence of small children, education, age and income have all been reported as possible determinants of the desire to telecommute (Hadda et al. 2009). Household size is also reported as an influential factor on the willingness or the desire to telecommute (Mannering and Mokhtarian, 1995; Mokhtarian and Salomon, 1996b). Another socioeconomic-related factor is the conflict between home and work duties and the extra stress that entails (Standen, 2000). This factor is of particular interest to the authors as it is of particular relevance to the female employees who are the subject of this research.

Employment characteristics are also believed to play a major role in both the ability and willingness to telecommute. It has been reported in the literature that work-related factors are most predictive of an individual's choice to telecommute (Haddad et al., 2009). The nature of one's job requirements, the percentage of time spent working face-to-face with others as well as the control they have over scheduling daily activities may all play a role in the workers' willingness to work from home. Furthermore, the reliance on ICT tools and equipments for the work tasks is also believed to influence an employee's ability and willingness to telecommute (Abdul Azeez et al., 2009).

Another set of factors believed to influence the willingness to telecommute is the travel behavior of an employee. Commute distance, delay, and mode of travel as well as car ownership are among the variables often examined for their influence on the desire to telecommute (Abdul Azeez et al., 2009; Haddad et al., 2009; Mokhtarian and Salomon, 1997). Finally, the willingness to telecommute -being more of a lifestyle choice- will certainly be influenced by the attitudes and perceptions of employees towards the range of advantages and disadvantages that are associated with the practice. The fear of an interrupted career path, loneliness while working at home and being induced to do more work; are among the potential disadvantages of telecommuting that may be of particular importance to female employees. Such disadvantages have even been reported as causes for discontinuing telecommuting by those having practiced it and experienced the flexibility it offers (Schreiber, 1999).

The following section briefly describes the data collection and analysis methods that were applied in this study.

3. Data collection and analysis

The target population is comprises of women who were employed in the financial intermediation and banking, real-estate and other related business activities, education, and telecommunication sectors. The targeted respondents were employed as managers, professionals, associate professionals or clerical workers at sampled establishments in the Kuala Lumpur city centre. The aforementioned sampling criteria that were used to select samples for this study were based on the findings of a telecommuting prevalence study in Malaysia carried out in 1998. The study identified the aforementioned industries and employment sectors as the most suitable sectors for the practice of telecommuting (Ng, 1999).

The total population size for this study was 63,900 female employees, representing 24.3% of all female employees working in the Malaysian capital. Two sets of instruments (a questionnaire survey form, and a travel diary) were given out to a representative sample of female employees working in the selected employment sectors. The questionnaire survey form consists of four sections namely: occupational characteristics, attitudes and perceptions towards telecommuting, household information, and finally socio-economic characteristics. A 'place-based' travel diary, on the other hand, was distributed to the female respondents which asked for travel related information of the respondents over a five-day period. Some of the data in the travel diary include: start and end time of each trip performed, purpose of the trips, mode(s) of travel used, commute distance, and delay time experienced. Data collection was a challenging endeavor due to cultural and logistic constraints. About 600 questionnaires were distributed in stages. After a one-week period, enumerators would follow-up and collect the completed surveys from the respondents. A total of 524 questionnaires were eventually collected representing an approximately 87% response rate. However, 70 questionnaires were rejected primarily due to missing travel data. This left the authors with a total of 454 valid questionnaires.

Descriptive analysis methods were initially applied. Bivariate correlation analysis was then applied to determine the correlation between the willingness to telecommute and a range of socioeconomic, employment, travel and perceptual factors. Finally, a binary logistic regression model was used to evaluate the effects of the underlying factors on the willingness to telecommute among the female employees.

The following sections will constitute a discussion of the analysis and findings of this paper.

4. Analysis and findings

4.1. Socioeconomic and employment characteristics of the respondents:

The average age of the respondents was 32 years. More than half of the respondents (56%) were between 20 and 29 years old, whereas only 6% were between 50 and 59 years of age. All three major Malaysian ethnic groups were proportionally represented in the sample. 66.5% of the respondents were ethnic Malays, followed by 21% and 11.8% ethnic Chinese and Indians respectively. The remaining 0.7% of the respondents indicated that they were of other ethnicities. Slightly more than half (51. 1%) of the respondents were married, while 48.2% were single. A total of 195 respondents (43%) stated having children and 12.8% of all respondents stated having at least one child below six years old. About 21% of the respondents stated having at least one child between 6 and 12 years old. Almost a quarter of the respondents (23.4%) stated having at least one child between 13 and 18 years old. A high percentage of respondents (69.4%) indicated having to take care of an elderly parent or a relative. A total of 116 (26.1%) respondents were having dual responsibilities in terms of taking care of both children as well as aging parents.

The respondents were found to be highly educated with more than two thirds (67.1%) having Bachelor degrees or higher qualifications. More than a quarter (26%) of the respondents indicated that they have a Diploma, while, on the other hand, only 5.7% indicated having high school certificate.

On average, the respondents' contributions to their monthly household income constituted 30% of the total household income. Married respondents have contributed an average of 34.7% of the total monthly household income, while their single counterparts an average of 26.5%. Those figures indicate that the contribution of the average female worker was secondary to that of their male spouse, and thus making career development risks associated with telecommuting less formidable for the household.

The majority of the respondents (82.2%) stated that they performed their daily employment duties in a standard 8-9 hour day beginning at 9am and ending at 6pm. A total of 14.3% stated that they work based on a flextime arrangement with the working day starting before 9am or ending after 6pm. A further 2% (9 respondents) stated having a compressed work week whereby they work 10-12 hours per day with a day off every one or two weeks.

Clerical workers stated spending an average of 52% of their time at the office working alone, that figure was followed by Associate professionals, Professionals and managers who stated spending an average of 42%, 41% and 37% of their time, respectively. This initial finding confirms the common belief that Clerical workers are among the employment categories most suited to the practice of telecommuting. Managers were found to spend the largest percentage of time working face-to-face with others (37%). Professionals, Clerical workers and Associate professionals reported spending 35%, 26%, and 24% of their time working face-to-face with others. Respondents reported spending an overall average of 19.8% of their time working remotely. All of the above suggests the theoretical suitability of the respondents to the practice of telecommuting.

Clerical Workers Associate Professionals Professionals Managers

37 20 6

\-----

Working alone Working with others Working remotely Work-related travel

Figure 1 Percentage of weekly office hours spent on typical work-related activities by employment category.

4.2. Travel characteristics

4.2.1. Car ownership, modal split and commute distance

97.4% of the respondents reported owning a minimum of one car in the household. About a quarter (24.2%) reported owning just one car, while almost half (49.6%) reported owning 2 cars in their household. The modal split of the respondents was 68% private and 32% public. The use of public transportation by the potential telecommuters was higher than the 19% stated in the Land Public Transportation Master Plan for the Greater Kuala Lumpur/Klang Valley area (2013). This finding on the use of public transportation is consistent with evidence indicating the higher tendency to utilize public transportation, particularly in the case of married female employees whose household owns only one car (Wachs, 1997). Data collected for the purpose of this study proved to be consistent with the aforementioned phenomenon as only 38% of the respondents who reported owning one car in the household used it for the daily commute. Out of 32% of the respondents who were using public transportation, almost half (14% of all respondents) were driven by someone as a passenger to a train station, or utilized a park-and-ride facility. This shows that public transportation users were still dependent on private transport for at least part of their journey. Only 18% of the respondents were using public transportation exclusively, 15% of them were using trains, 2% were using both buses and trains, and only 1% were using the bus as their main mode of transport (refer to figure 2).

45% of the respondents were commuting to work daily as a driver in a single occupancy vehicle, which made it the single most common mode of travel by the respondents. Another 4% were commuting daily as a driver in a multiple occupancy vehicle; a further 16% as a passenger in a privately owned vehicle and 3% were using motorcycles. The average commute distance for all travel modes was 17.4 km. The respondents who were using private transport travelled an average distance of 19.3 km, while those using both private and public transport travelled slightly longer average distance of 21.5 km. The respondents who used public transportation exclusively travelled an average commute distance of only 11.4 km.

Figure 2 Modal split of the potential female telecommuters

4.2.2. Trip linking

On average, more than one-third (34.9%) of all trips performed by the respondents were linked trips. However, only 9.2% of those linked trips were either exclusively performed for childcare, or involved performing multiple activities that include childcare (i.e. picking-up/dropping-off from school/daycare, etc...). About 15% of the trips of the respondents were for dining. A vast majority of the linked trips were performed to achieve a combination of different purposes such as shopping, social activities and personal business. Only 1% of all linked trips were made exclusively for shopping.

4.2.3. Travel Delay

A total of 58.5% of the respondents stated that they regularly experience travel delay. Almost all (92.6%) respondents stated that the delay they experienced was caused by recurrent rush-hour traffic congestion. The average delay time experienced by the respondents was 14.6 minutes and 13.5 minutes in the morning and evening rush hours respectively (refer to table 1). The findings on delay time appear to be lower than the morning and evening delay times of 18.8 and 21.4 minutes recorded in 2004 (Abdul Azeez el at. 2009). This inconsistency could be attributed to the fact that the figures reported by Abdul Azeez (2009) were obtained from a mixed-gender sample, as men generally tend to travel longer commute distances (Wachs 1997; Pucher & Renne 2003; Pisarski 2006), and thus are more likely to experience longer delays.

The mean travel time by all modes of transport was 44 minutes. The travel time by public transportation was 1.23 times that of private vehicles. This figure, is slightly lower than the 1.5 times reported in the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD, Nov. 2013), and again, this could be likely attributed to shorter travel distances by women compared to men. The evening work-to-home trips took marginally longer for all modes. This finding seems unreasonable at first glance because of the longer delays in the morning commute, but it could be, however, justified by the fact that the majority of trip linking was performed during the evening hours and hence, the longer commute time in the evening.

Table 1 Average delay and total travel time (in minutes)

Average Delay (AM) Average Delay (PM)

14.6 13.5

Travel Mode Mean Time Median Time

Private 40.9 34.4

Public 50.5 45.3

Overall 44.0 37.3

4.3. Experiences and perceptions towards telecommuting

4.3.1. Experience working from home

A total of 382 (84.1%) respondents expressed their familiarity with the concept of telecommuting. However, more than half (52%) of the respondents indicated not having performed any work from home. 35% of the respondents had the experience of working from home only during urgent situations and not on a regular basis. The remaining 13% of the respondents stated working from home on a regular basis, of which 4% reported working from home few hours per month, 7% worked regularly from home for few hours per week, and the remaining 2% (10 respondents) indicated being actual telecommuters. Out of these 10 actual telecommuters, 7 were professionals, 2 clerical workers, and 1 manager. None of the 42 associate professionals interviewed were actual telecommuters.

Two-thirds (24) of all female managers interviewed stated "not having" spent any amount of time working from home. This finding suggests that management and supervisory responsibilities of the respondents necessitate their physical presence at the traditional workplace, and that perhaps the available telecommunication facilities are yet to allow managers to perform their duties remotely. About half of the Professionals and Clerical Workers (49.8% and 47.7% respectively) and a high percentage of Associate Professionals (64.3%) stated "not having" spent any amount of time working from home (refer to table 2). This disparity can be attributed to the fact that Associate Professionals (who mainly include technicians) are required to be present at the workplace to perform their maintenance and monitoring duties.

Table 2 Experience working from home

Experience telecommuting Managerial Professional Assoc. pro. Clerical Total

I am a telecommuter 1 (10%) [3.1%] 7 (70%) [2.6%] 0 2 (20%) [1.8%] 10 [2.2%]

Regularly, a few hours/week or month 2 [6.3%] 30 [11.2%] 4 [9.5%] 11 [10.1%] 47 [10.4%]

Only in urgent situations 5 [15.6%] 97 [36.3%] 11 [26.2%] 44 [40.4%] 157 [34.8%]

Have no experience of telecommuting 24 [75%] 133 [49.8%] 27 [64.3%] 52 [47.7%] 236 [52.4%]

Total 32 [100%] 267 [100%] 42 [100%] 109 [100%] 450* [100%]

Note: (figure) = percent in row, [figure] = percent in column

Was this time spent additional to regul ar working hours or of part of regular hours?

Frequency Percent

Yes, additional to regular working hours 167 78.0

No, part of regular working hours 22 10.3

Both of the above 25 11.7

Total 214 100.0

* Figure inconsistent with sample size due to the exclusion of cases with missing data.

The respondents who stated working from home at any capacity were further questioned on whether the time spent working at home was part of their regular working hours, or otherwise. A high percentage (78%) of those who stated having worked from home on a regular basis spent time at home in addition to their regular working hours. On the other hand a total of 22 respondents (4.8% of all respondents) stated working from home during regular office hours, i.e. they were involved in part-day telecommuting referred to in the literature as 'varied spatiotemporal working' (Haddad and Lyons, 2008). This finding confirms the higher incidence of part-day telecommuting (compared to whole-day telecommuting) as reported in the literature (Haddad et al., 2009), and that a total of 47 respondents (10.4%) were in fact actual telecommuters by definition.

4.3.2. Ability to telecommute

The nature of the work performed by the respondents was, as expected, a major hurdle to adopt telecommuting. 43% of the respondents stated that the nature of their jobs does not allow them to telecommute at all. The remaining 57% of the respondents, however, expressed their ability to telecommute in the following capacities: 25% were able

to telecommute at an infrequent rate of about 1-3 days per month; 20% 1 -2 days a week; 9% at a frequent rate of 3 -4 days a week; and finally 3% the entire working week (refer to table 3).

Table 3 Ability to telecommute by employment category

Employment Category Not at all 1-3 days/month 1-2 days/week 3-4 days/week 5 days/week Total

Managerial 11 9 11 1 0 32

Professional 123 54 55 29 8 269

Associate professional 14 8 8 9 3 42

Clerical 49 40 17 2 2 110

Total 197 111 91 41 13 453*

* Figure inconsistent with sample size due to the exclusion of one case with missing data.

The average frequency of telecommuting stated by the respondents ranged between 0.8 days per week (approximately 3.2 days per month) for those employed in the "Financial Intermediation" industry, and 1.1 days per week (approximately 4.4 days per month) for those employed in the "Telecommunication" industry. However, a wider range on average telecommuting frequency was found for the different employment categories. Surprisingly, clerical workers stated the least possible telecommuting frequency of approximately 0.6 days per week (2.4 days per month), whereas Associate Professionals stated an average frequency of approximately 1.5 days per week (6 days per month). Managers and professionals, stated about 0.8 and 0.9 days per week respectively (refer to table 4).

Table 4 Ability to telecommute (no. of days) by employment category and industry

Managers Professionals Assoc. professionals Clerical workers

Ability to telecommute (days/week) 0.8 0.9 1.5 0.6

Ability to telecommute (days/month) 3.2 3.6 6 2.4

Finance Real Estate Education Telecomm,

Ability to telecommute (days/week) 0.8 0.9 0.7 1.1

Ability to telecommute (days/month) 3.2 3.6 2.8 4.4

4.3.3. Willingness to telecommute

The ability to telecommute does not necessarily always translate into the willingness to do so, and the findings of this study on this subject were no different. Approximately 35% of those who stated their ability to telecommute were unwilling to work from home. There were no major differences in the willingness to telecommute among Managers, Professionals, and Associate Professionals. The findings showed that 66.7% of Managers, 66.4% of Professionals and 71.4% of Associate Professionals were willing to telecommute. On the other hand, only 57.4% of all Clerical Workers expressed their willingness to telecommute. The willingness to telecommute among the respondents who were employed in the different industries was 56.3% in Education, 61.7% in Telecommunication, 64.4% in Finance, and 73.2% in Real Estate, (refer to table 5).

Table 5 Willingness to telecommute by employment category and industry (n=256, respondents able to telecommute)

Managers Professionals Assoc. professionals Clerical workers

Willing to telecommute 14 (66.7%) 97 (66.4%) 20 (71.4%) 35 (57.4%)

Finance Real estate Education Telecom.

Willing to telecommute 65 (64.4%) 41 (73.2%) 27 (56.3%) 29 (61.7%)

Note: (figure) = percent of total number of respondents able to telecommute in the respective employment categories and industries.

4.4. Bivariate correlations

A bivariate correlation analysis was performed in order to identify the underlying relationships between the willingness to telecommute, and socioeconomic, household, employment, travel, and perceptual characteristics of the respondents. A total of 32 variables were included in the analysis, however, only nine were found to have a statistically significant relationship with respondents' willingness to telecommute. The "amount of time spent working face-to-face with others", the "number of cars owned" by the respondents' households, and the "number of family members" had a negative correlation with the willingness to telecommute. None of the variables which are gender specific such as the "presence of small children" and "taking care of an elderly parent or relative" had a significant correlation with the willingness to telecommute. Whereas three of the major perceptual constraints of telecommuting namely the "fear of isolation" while working at home, the "reduced face-to-face interactions with others", and "losing the chance for promotion", were found to be negatively correlated with the willingness to telecommute, indicating that the higher a respondent perceives the potential constraint, the less likely she were to telecommute (Refer to table 6).

On the other hand, only three variables were found to encourage respondents towards practicing telecommuting. Firstly, a respondent's ability to telecommute given the nature of her job scope (rated on a five-point scale ranging from 'about 1-3 days a month' to '5 days a week'), indicating that the more a respondent was able to telecommute, the more likely she was willing to do so. This finding supports existing literatures that work-related factors are the most predictive of an individual's choice to telecommute (Haddad et al., 2009). The delay time experienced during morning rush-hour was also found to have a statistically significant correlation with the willingness to telecommute. This is considered an important finding indicating that the travel stress experienced particularly during the morning rush-hour influences the willingness to telecommute. Finally, Smartphone usage by the respondents (measured on a three-point scale of 'never', 'infrequently' and 'frequently') also had a statistically significant positive correlation with the willingness to telecommute (Refer to table 5). This finding indicates that the widespread Smartphone technology has the potential to increase the inclination towards the adoption of telecommuting as a viable working arrangement. The finding also represents some evidence suggesting that Smart phones are replacing the role of Personal Computers which were found to have a positive correlation with the willingness to telecommute in the 90's (Abdul Azeez et al., 2009), but not so according to data collected for the purpose of this study.

Table 6 Summary of the bivariate correlation analysis (n=256, respondents able to telecommute)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

1. Willingness to telecommute

2. Working face-to-face with others (hrs/week) -.134*

3. Smartphone usage .259** .113

4. Ability to telecommute .285** -.241** -.068

5. Feeling isolated working at home -.399** .073 -.184** -.135*

6. Losing chance for promotion -.257** -.026 - 199** -.073 .186**

7. Reduced face-to-face interaction with others -.320** .209** -.386** -.166* .255** .521**

8. Delay AM .186** -.081 .426** .011 -.150* -.195** -.256**

9. No. of cars owned by household -.123* .162** -.275** -.122 .017 .040 .272** -.275**

10. Household size -.141* .001 -.130* -.044 .056 -.102 -.046 -.124 .313**

*. Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed). **. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).

4.5. Binary logistic regression model

A binary logistic regression model was computed in order to evaluate the effects of the aforementioned 9 variables on the willingness to telecommute among female employees in Kuala Lumpur. Minor data imputation was carried out in order to maximize the number of cases entered in the computation of the model; however, only 199 cases were included.

Table (5) shows the results of the logistic regression analysis. The model has a significant overall chi-square value (x2= 57.255, p<001), as well as high pseudo R2 values. Additionally, the model has a classification accuracy rate of 75.9%, a figure that is substantially larger than the proportional by-chance accuracy rate of 66.9%. The coefficients of all individual variables had the expected signs; however, only two variables namely respondents' "ability to telecommute" given their job requirements, and the "fear of isolation while working at home" had a statistically significant contribution to the predictive power of the model (refer to table 7).

The model reasserted the persistence of barriers that are both practical and psychological in nature. While new advancements in Smartphone technology seem to provide an incentive or perhaps a means for telecommuting to take place increasingly, the traditional psychological and work-related barriers still persist today as they did in previous decades and are thus preventing the increase in the adoption of telecommuting. It is important to mention here that there is limited evidence suggesting that the fear of isolation may be unfounded. All of the ten practicing telecommuters in the sample rated this constraint as 'not important at all' despite the fact that they experienced working from home firsthand for an average of 3.1 days per week, it is therefore believed that the effects of this constraint could be mitigated through increased awareness about telecommuting. On the other hand, the other two perceptual barriers (losing the chance for promotion and the reduced face-to-face interaction with others) were highly rated by the practicing telecommuters in the sample.

Table 7 Results of the binary logistic regression model (n=199*)

Dependant variable: Willingness to telecommute (willing vs. unwilling)

Independent variables Coefficient ß SE Wald p-Value Exp(B)

Constant 1.792 1.953 .841 .359 5.999

Ability to telecommute considering job requirements 1.162 .499 5.428 .020 3.196

Working face-to-face with others (hrs/week) -.044 .171 .067 .795 .957

Usage of Smartphone .252 .233 1.167 .280 1.286

Delay AM (minutes) .010 .024 .163 .686 1.010

No. of cars available in the household -.013 .223 .003 .955 .987

Household size (no. of family members) -.201 .115 3.042 .081 .818

Feeling isolated while working at home -.471 .105 20.032 .000 .624

Losing chance for promotion -.152 .129 1.396 .237 .859

The reduced face-to-face interaction with others -.283 .275 1.057 .304 .754

-2Log likelihood 204.331

Model Chi-square 57.255 .000

Cox & Snell R Square .250

Nagelkerk R Square .342

Hosmer Lemeshow Test .926

* Figure inconsistent with sample size due to the exclusion of cases with missing data.

5. Conclusion

This paper provided a descriptive analysis of the socioeconomic, employment and travel characteristics of 454 female employees in Kuala Lumpur. The respondents' perceptions towards telecommuting were also discussed. The

correlation between some of the socio-economic, travel and employment characteristics and respondents' willingness to telecommute was initially examined by applying bivariate analysis. The findings showed that nine variables had a statistically significant correlation with the willingness to telecommute. However, none of these variables were gender specific. A binary logistic regression model was used to evaluate the effects of explanatory variables on the willingness of the female employees to telecommute. The coefficients of all explanatory variables had the expected signs; however, only two variables namely respondents' "ability to telecommute" given their job requirements, and the "fear of isolation while working at home" had a statistically significant contribution to the predictive power of the model. The model showed that the presence of psychological and practical barriers was preventing the wider propagation of telecommuting. It is important to note that the willingness to telecommute does not necessarily reflect the actual adoption of telecommuting. Nevertheless, it provides a clear understanding on the extent to which female employees expressed their willingness to telecommute if given the option by their employers. This paper highlighted a substantial propensity to telecommute by the female employees, but the realization of their willingness to telecommute into actual telecommuting remains to be seen.

Acknowledgements

The findings of this paper are part of an ongoing research project on the travel implications of telecommuting by female employees in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The authors are indebted to the Ministry of Education, Malaysia for funding this research project under the Exploratory Research Grant Scheme (ERGS).

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