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“I have to be always on” – managerial role and experience of work-life balance and regeneration practices during remote work

Katarzyna Mikołajczyk (Institute of Human Capital, SGH Warsaw School of Economics, Warsaw, Poland)
Dorota Molek-Winiarska (Department of Human Resource Management, Wroclaw University of Economics and Business, Wroclaw, Poland)
Emily Kleszewski (Faculty of Psychology, Philipps-University Marburg, Marburg, Germany)

International Journal of Workplace Health Management

ISSN: 1753-8351

Article publication date: 2 November 2023

507

Abstract

Purpose

The main aims of the paper were to explore the role of information and communication technology (ICT) in shaping the work-life balance of managers working remotely and to identify individual recovery strategies and organisational interventions to support digital managers. The theoretical background was based on the work-family border theory and the effort-recovery model.

Design/methodology/approach

A semi-structured individual in-depth interview (IDI) was used as the research method. The research group consisted of 13 managers from companies in Poland representing various industries. In all, 560 min of recordings and 201 pages of text were obtained and subsequently coded and categorised.

Findings

The results showed that remote managers struggle with the work-life imbalance and blurred boundaries between work and private roles, as well as difficulties in maintaining digital hygiene. The use of ICT enables high flexibility but contributes to work-life conflict. Managers who work from home experience a constant workload and suffer from impaired recovery. The use of ICT creates a need to recover and maintain digital hygiene. However, there are constraints that impede managers' recovery attempts. Many feel that their work does not allow to recover but requires to be “always on” to help their subordinates fulfil their responsibilities, even though they do not expect their subordinates to work after hours. Finally, managers perceive organisational support as insufficient or inappropriate for their needs. They admit that they do not participate in organisational interventions due to lack of time and do not believe that they help them to maintain or restore their well-being.

Originality/value

The role of ICT in blurring the boundaries between work and private roles was explored in depth, as was the “always on” phenomenon as a factor contributing to the tension between the need to recover and the inability to engage in recovery activities. The study has practical implications for integrating individual and organisational approaches to well-being and identifies solutions to encourage managers to maintain digital hygiene and mental health.

Keywords

Citation

Mikołajczyk, K., Molek-Winiarska, D. and Kleszewski, E. (2023), "“I have to be always on” – managerial role and experience of work-life balance and regeneration practices during remote work", International Journal of Workplace Health Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJWHM-11-2022-0195

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited

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