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Research in the area of offsite work arrangements (telework, remote work, etc.) has generally been focused on understanding how the experience of being offsite changes work attitudes and performance. What has been largely neglected is an investigation of how offsite work changes the experience of being in the onsite office. In a qualitative study of a Fortune 100 company on the forefront of allowing offsite work, we examine how the prevalence of offsite working arrangements influences perceptions of the onsite office as well as decisions regarding where one works. We find that individuals desire a co-located office environment as an opportunity for both social ties and work collaborations. In this distributed organization, however, that opportunity is largely not present. Individuals are working offsite not only for many traditionally known reasons but also because of how they imagine others are making their work location decisions. In this way, offsite work is seemingly spreading in a contagious way: individuals choose to work offsite as coworkers are choosing to work offsite, a finding we support in a follow-up quantitative study. We suggest that work in this area refocus to include contagion effects of offsite work and the potential for negative effects of working in a depopulated onsite office.

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