Remote workers may be more dishonest than office workers – and it’s women that could be to blame

Women are more likely to be dishonest than men when working remotely, according to research by the University of Cologne.

The research, conducted by Dr. Julian Conrads and Dr. Sebastian Lotz, revealed that women were more likely to be completely dishonest if the method of communication is more distant and anonymous.

The study asked the participants to flip a coin four times and inform the researchers what it landed on. Each time the coin landed on tails; the participants received a monetary reward.

The communication channels used to inform the researchers differed – either no technology was used, for example face-to-face, or it was increasingly ‘distant’ or ‘anonymous’, for instance ‘’web-based’.

“The research reveals that an individual’s lying cost may be affected by social distance concerns, and this effect seems to be more pronounced for women than men when it comes to lying to the full extent. Women – communicating remotely from home – were more likely to report landing on tails for four times compared to men,” says Dr. Conrads.

This research is relevant in an organisational setting as decision makers have to decide which communication channel to rely on when organising communication among employees – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As face-to-face communication is unavailable due to most employees working remotely, the next best thing is video conferencing rather than chat. Dishonest behaviour was prevalent in all experimental treatments but increased as the method of communication became more ‘distant’ and ‘anonymous’,” says Dr. Conrads.

The study was published in the journal of Behavioural and Experimental Economics.