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The new nowhere land? A research and practice agenda for the “always on” culture

Almuth McDowall (Department of Organizational Psychology, Birkbeck University of London, London, UK)
Gail Kinman (Department of Psychology, University of Bedfordshire, Luton, UK)

Journal of Organizational Effectiveness: People and Performance

ISSN: 2051-6614

Article publication date: 1 September 2017

Issue publication date: 15 September 2017




Rapid developments in the field of information communication technology (ICT) mean that e-working has become increasingly common and prolonged – the “always-on-culture” potential to enhance work-life balance via increased flexibility in terms of time and location, as well as posing the risk of being “always on” has been identified with potentially serious implications for the health and performance of employees. The authors identify a research agenda as a starting point for reviewing current organisational practice.


The authors discuss current technological developments as well as prevalent research frameworks and terminology in the domain of work-life balance and beyond to evaluate their fitness for purpose. They also report findings from a survey of 374 employees working within UK businesses about current organisational practice.


Over half of the organisations sampled do not have clear policies, guidance or training in place regarding work-life balance and supporting employees with regards to technology enabled working and communications. The authors identify as key challenges the sheer volume of e-mail traffic, lack of training and infrastructure to support ICT-enabled working and an absence of appropriate support.

Practical implications

Organisations need to develop clear policies regarding the psychosocial aspects of technology use and provide evidence-based guidance to managers and employees.

Social implications

Managers and individuals require support to engage with technology in a healthy and sustainable way.


This is one of the first papers to survey organisational practice and support on the topic.



McDowall, A. and Kinman, G. (2017), "The new nowhere land? A research and practice agenda for the “always on” culture", Journal of Organizational Effectiveness: People and Performance, Vol. 4 No. 3, pp. 256-266.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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