Are employees who work from home more ethical?

A study suggests they’re less likely to harass co-workers or steal from the till.

If you feel surrounded at work by dishonest sneaks and letches who’ve got their paws all over you, it may be because the more ethical people are working from home.

Then again, if you’re a telecommuter who feels morally superior about that, bear in mind that you do work alone. We don’t wish to presume, but you probably aren’t harassing your cat with those smutty jokes you used to tell in the office.

A new study cited by MarketWatch holds that employees who work from home commit less misconduct on the job than peers who head into the office every day.

In a survey of 200 firms by the Ethisphere Institute and Jones Lang LaSalle, only 11 percent said work-from-home employees had committed ethics violations in the past two years.

But 36 percent reported “visible ethics violations” by employees who don’t work from home regularly, and 43 percent reported non-visible violations for this group, such as expense account fraud or bribery, MarketWatch reports.

Those of us who usually work from home would like to think this is because of our high ethical standards, and our cat, who doesn’t understand our jokes anyway, would agree.

But it turns out we are nothing special. We’re just isolated.

“You can see why someone working from home wouldn’t get embroiled in some of the things that lead to trouble,” Mark Ohringer, executive vice president and global general counsel for Jones Lang LaSalle, was quoted as saying.

When a worker isn’t in the office, the opportunity to tell inappropriate jokes or harass people diminishes (much to our annoyance).

Other misconduct includes theft, expense-report abuse and misusing social media, other experts say. In fact, the employee’s eagerness to maintain his or her work-from-home privilege may make that person extra careful to comply with a company’s ethics policy, MarketWatch says.

Telecommuting is becoming increasingly popular, and some employees may also behave well because they’re afraid of losing their work-from-home privileges, MarketWatch states.

Still, there are companies out there who don’t trust us. Cognitive Technologies has even set standards for behavior by telecommuters, as if we’re the ones the boss needs to worry about.

We’re offended that they think it necessary to draw up a policy. Come on, we’re ethical. Just ask our cat.

COMMENT Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive the latest articles from directly in your inbox.