The Rural Online Initiative program at Utah State University Extension supported this quantitative study investigating the factors explaining the process of remote work adoption by organizations in the U.S. Given the potential for remote work with respect to technological advances, shifts in traditional work arrangements, and its impact on organizational/operational efficiency, there was a need to investigate how organizational characteristics and leaders’ perceptions of remote work relate to its adoption. This study was guided by Rogers’ theory of diffusion of innovations where research objectives were to (1) determine where organizations range in the innovation-decision process of remote work adoption, (2) categorize organizations’ level of innovativeness with respect to remote work adoption over time, (3) describe how organizational characteristics relate to remote work adoption, (4) describe how the attributes of remote work relate to the likelihood of remote work adoption among organizations, and (5) describe the extent to which organizations have implemented remote work in response to COVID-19 and their favorability towards the practice.
This study followed a non-experimental design with a correlational analysis, collecting cross sectional data from a sample of 1,259 organizational leaders recruited through the use of opt-in panels. Data collection was facilitated by an online survey instrument using Qualtrics software, and principles of the Tailored Design Method were used to substantiate construct and face validity.
Results showed that the practice of remote work has been implemented by most organizations in the U.S. Findings indicated organizational leaders perceived the practice of remote work positively and international organizations were twice as likely to adopt remote work compared to those operating only domestically.
Results also demonstrated how remote work has become a widespread workplace practice that is becoming increasingly standard across organizations in the U.S. Leaders can use the results to develop formal remote work arrangements in their organizations and should consider training existing employees and leaders in the best practices of remote work operations. Findings from this study also provide the Cooperative Extension System with insights into how it should respond to the widespread adoption of remote work with relevant, research-based educational programming in their local communities