Boundary-less work and digital mobile media : A qualitative exploration of employees’ work-life balance in the context of constant online availability
Abstract: Digital mobile media have a major influence on organizations today. The technology has enabled a flexible work environment where employees can get work done without the limits of time and space. The boundary-less working conditions have come with possibilities but also resulted in new expectations of extended work availability. Previous research has shown that a blurry line between work and time off can cause stress and make it difficult to recover from the job (Dettmers, Bamberg and Seffzek 2016, 291; Mellner 2016, 156). The purpose of this study is to continue exploring the boundary-less working environment in relation to digital mobile media. This is an exploratory study aiming to understand how and why employees use work-related smartphones and emails after working hours. The aim is also to investigate employees’ reasons to be connected to the job during spare time. This study is qualitative and based on interviews with Swedish employees working for a multinational company. As a theoretical framework, the study highlights boundary theory, social influence model, social learning theory, digital mobile media and globalization. The findings showed that employees with international job contacts experienced that they should be occasionally available after working hours but not because of peer-pressure from co-workers. The participants had different reasons for being available during time off, such as wanting to help colleagues in another time zone, being curious about a project or planning for upcoming working days. None of the participants experienced negativity of sometimes being available to work during the spare time and they believed that it is important to disconnect after working hours, to have time to relax.
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