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Technology Use and the New Economy: Work Extension, Network Connectivity, and Employee Distress and Productivity

Work and Family in the New Economy

ISBN: 978-1-78441-630-0, eISBN: 978-1-78441-629-4

Publication date: 17 February 2015



To assess: (1) the prevalence of specific work practices that incorporate use of information and communication technology (ICT), (2) whether these practices are connected to employee distress or productivity via work extension or social network processes; (3) the implications of ICT-based work practices for the work/family interface.


We draw on the 2008 Pew Networked Workers data collected from a nationally representative sample of workers and use logistic regression methods to investigate links among use of specific ICT-based practices and increases in distress or productivity.


(1) Use of e-mail, instant messaging, texts, and social networking sites at work varies by demographic, organization, and job characteristics, and (2) ICT-based work extension, social network expansion, and connectivity to work colleagues are linked to increases in distress and productivity. Connecting with family or friends while at work can reduce the likelihood that an employee reports an increase in work stress.

Research limitations/implications

Limitations include a cross-sectional design, age of the data, missing data, and measurement issues. Even with these limitations, there are few investigations drawing from national samples of employees that can assess work-related ICT use with this level of depth.


Findings point to technological innovation as an important factor influencing work extension and social network processes and connect this to changes in employee distress and productivity. The focus on productivity is especially important given the emphasis that previous research has placed on linking ICT use and employee distress.



Chesley, N. and Johnson, B.E. (2015), "Technology Use and the New Economy: Work Extension, Network Connectivity, and Employee Distress and Productivity", Work and Family in the New Economy (Research in the Sociology of Work, Vol. 26), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 61-99.



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