How Workplace Isolation Impacts Performance: An Abstract
As virtual sales teams grow and as salespeople continue to work remote, the notion of workplace isolation, or the extent of separation from others, will prevail. As organizations continue to locate their salespeople closer to their customers, perceptions of being disconnected from others in the organization and feelings of loneliness will inadvertently be created. This also results in a loss of informal learning, emotional support, camaraderie, and direct social interactions with other coworkers. Extant literature has shown that workplace isolation is indeed a major concern with dire consequences on employees. Despite the pervasiveness of isolation, existing research provides little empirical theoretical insight about how isolation influences performance. In the sales literature, scant research has examined the existence and consequences of workplace isolation, and little is known about the effects on individual sales performance as well as any underlying processes. If the ultimate goal of sales managers is to achieve higher sales performance, then an understanding of how and the process by which isolation impedes performance is imperative. As such, we use social learning theory (SLT) to identify and empirically explore the mechanisms in which workplace isolation impacts salesperson performance. In accordance with SLT, our results show that workplace isolation indirectly impacts salesperson performance via knowledge, informal communications, and commitment. This suggests that when salespeople work remote and are not around others in their organizations, they miss out on valuable interacting and learning opportunities. Managers can take steps to offset workplace isolation by increasing the frequency of informal communication between employees, bolstering commitment, and promoting knowledge sharing.
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