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Walking on a thin line! Empirical examination of work–home boundary violations faced by employees during forced work from home

S.M. Ramya (Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai, India)
Jasmine Banu (Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai, India)
Aswathy Asokan Ajitha (Indian Institute of Management Amritsar, Amritsar, India)
Rupashree Baral (Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai, India)

Employee Relations

ISSN: 0142-5455

Article publication date: 12 September 2022

Issue publication date: 1 February 2023




This research aims to study employees' pandemic-induced work–home boundary violations using the work–home boundary model. Boundary theory and social theories provide the theoretical underpinnings for this study. The authors study the role of gender, gender role ideology, and fear of COVID-19 in explaining the relationship between work–home boundary violations, work–family conflict (WFC), and subjective well-being (SWB) among working professionals.


Data were gathered using an online survey on married and working individuals (N = 354) and analyzed using the multi-group analysis technique in structural equation modeling (SEM).


Results show that men faced higher WFC due to job insecurity, while women reported higher WFC due to traditional gender role ideology. Surprisingly, men reported lower subjective well-being due to WFC compared to women, when fear of COVID-19 was low. One promising finding is the potential in using problem-focused coping strategy (PCS) as a boundary-work tactic for both men and women to ensure boundary control (BC) to reduce WFC and improve SWB during the new normal.

Practical implications

This study contributes to boundary theory, social role theory, and social support resource theory, along with practical implications for employees, organizations, and policymakers.


This study dissects the primary role of problem-focused coping as a valid coping mechanism for managing the issues arising from the pandemic-induced unfavorable working conditions.



The authors are thankful for the comments and feedback received for an earlier version presented at the 81st Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management (AOM, 2021): A Virtual Annual Meeting. The authors sincerely thank the anonymous reviewers and the editor, Prof. Dennis Nickson, for their insightful comments and suggestions during the review process.


Ramya, S.M., Banu, J., Asokan Ajitha, A. and Baral, R. (2023), "Walking on a thin line! Empirical examination of work–home boundary violations faced by employees during forced work from home", Employee Relations, Vol. 45 No. 2, pp. 277-303.



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