Work-life Flexibility Policies: Moving from Traditional Views Toward Work-life Intersectionality Considerations*

Ellen Ernst Kossek (Purdue University, USA)
Brenda A. Lautsch (Simon Fraser University, Canada)
Matthew B. Perrigino (Iona University, USA)
Jeffrey H. Greenhaus (Drexel University, USA)
Tarani J. Merriweather (Purdue University, USA)

Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management

ISBN: 978-1-83753-389-3, eISBN: 978-1-83753-388-6

ISSN: 0742-7301

Publication date: 7 September 2023


Work-life flexibility policies (e.g., flextime, telework, part-time, right-to-disconnect, and leaves) are increasingly important to employers as productivity and well-being strategies. However, policies have not lived up to their potential. In this chapter, the authors argue for increased research attention to implementation and work-life intersectionality considerations influencing effectiveness. Drawing on a typology that conceptualizes flexibility policies as offering employees control across five dimensions of the work role boundary (temporal, spatial, size, permeability, and continuity), the authors develop a model identifying the multilevel moderators and mechanisms of boundary control shaping relationships between using flexibility and work and home performance. Next, the authors review this model with an intersectional lens. The authors direct scholars’ attention to growing workforce diversity and increased variation in flexibility policy experiences, particularly for individuals with higher work-life intersectionality, which is defined as having multiple intersecting identities (e.g., gender, caregiving, and race), that are stigmatized, and link to having less access to and/or benefits from societal resources to support managing the work-life interface in a social context. Such an intersectional focus would address the important need to shift work-life and flexibility research from variable to person-centered approaches. The authors identify six research considerations on work-life intersectionality in order to illuminate how traditionally assumed work-life relationships need to be revisited to address growing variation in: access, needs, and preferences for work-life flexibility; work and nonwork experiences; and benefits from using flexibility policies. The authors hope that this chapter will spur a conversation on how the work-life interface and flexibility policy processes and outcomes may increasingly differ for individuals with higher work-life intersectionality compared to those with lower work-life intersectionality in the context of organizational and social systems that may perpetuate growing work-life and job inequality.



Kossek, E.E., Lautsch, B.A., Perrigino, M.B., Greenhaus, J.H. and Merriweather, T.J. (2023), "Work-life Flexibility Policies: Moving from Traditional Views Toward Work-life Intersectionality Considerations*", Buckley, M.R., Wheeler, A.R., Baur, J.E. and Halbesleben, J.R.B. (Ed.) Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management (Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management, Vol. 41), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 199-243.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023 Ellen Ernst Kossek, Brenda A. Lautsch, Matthew B. Perrigino, Jeffrey H. Greenhaus and Tarani J. Merriweather


This chapter is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this chapter (for both commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence may be seen at

Clearly, flex work is the new paradigm … So employers are shifting their focus away from “Why should we do this?” toward “How do we do this right?” (Leonard, SHRM, October 16, 2013)

Work-life flexibility policies such as telework, flextime, part-time work, and family leaves are experiencing heightened interest in research and practice. Experts continue to predict the availability of work-life flexibility policies will only rise in the future as the “new normal” (Kennedy, 2022). Three-fourths (75%) of office workers now choose their hybrid mix of remote and office work hours (Fleming, 2020), and more front-line workers can self-schedule (Kossek & Lee, 2020). With the rapid adoption of remote working in recent years, fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, further growth of work-life flexibility policies has seemed unquestionable. Yet, companies from major banks to law firms and large organizations like J. P. Morgan have been calling workers back to the office and reducing telework options (Bundale, 2022; Kelly, 2022), suggesting that the perceived benefits of implementing flexibility practices may be in question, at least for employers. Companies also seem to face challenges in determining how to implement work-life flexibility in ways that support employees’ careers and do not exacerbate inequality (Kossek & Lautsch, 2018). Fundamentally, we lack clear research and practical guidance on how employers can implement work-life flexibility in ways that enhance performance for all employees at both home and work, as research rarely finds dual benefits (Eddleston & Mulki, 2017). Meta-analytic reviews provide evidence that the effectiveness of flexibility policies in reducing work-family conflict is often more hyped than reality, showing stronger benefits for individuals with access to policies than through actual use (Allen et al., 2013).

In sum, whether and how individuals and organizations can fully and mutually benefit from work-life flexibility policies remains an open question. Recent reviews suggest a deeper understanding of linkages between work-life flexibility policies, boundary control, and implementation practices may provide a partial answer. Kossek et al. (2022) argue that whether and the extent to which work-life flexibility policies lead to positive work and nonwork outcomes may depend largely on the degree to which they provide control over the work role boundary. They suggest that work-life flexibility policies are not simply an assortment of discrete human resource programs but can be conceptualized as a means of enabling individuals to exert control over the work role boundary along five dimensions: temporal, spatial, size, permeability, and continuity. Further, they argue that how policies are implemented shape their implications for boundary control and associated outcomes, with implementation occurring across four stages (availability, access experiences, use, and outcomes) and multiple intersecting contexts (society, organization, workgroup, individual, and home).

The goal of this article is to present a model that extends this view of boundary control and implementation dynamics driving the outcomes of work-life flexibility policies to address several research gaps. First, we answer the call to develop a more nuanced view of moderators of implementation effectiveness (e.g., HR systems, group, individual, and home influences), which has been referred to as a “black box” of work-life policy implementation (Kossek et al., 2022). For example, we will argue that whether and how performance at work and home is enhanced by using flexibility is conditioned by the strength of the HR system, the supportiveness of the work-life culture, and the degree to which policies are customizable.

Second, while individuals’ perceptions of boundary control over work role dimensions have been identified in reviews as an overarching mechanism linking policy use and outcomes, more nuanced work is needed to understand these processes. We highlight availability, reciprocity, and efficiency as distinct pathways through which control determines outcomes. We also focus on a dual agenda (Bailyn et al., 1997) view of examining how work-life flexibility policies may have mixed consequences for the work and nonwork domains. As Kossek et al. (2023) noted, there is a need to examine work and nonwork outcomes simultaneously as the work-life literature tends to focus on nonwork role benefits for the individual employee, often overlooking work effects, whereas other management fields such as leadership focus on the work role benefits and often overlook nonwork effects.

Third, we argue that work-life flexibility policies historically have been viewed in the work-life literature through what we refer to as a traditional work–nonwork theoretical lens: as organizational resources that through their mere availability and use, de facto, reduce conflict and buffer strain between work and nonwork roles, or facilitate their synthesis. These integrative general models of work-family conflict and enrichment processes comprise a valuable and widely used theoretical approach. Yet they have also been criticized as being overly focused on the ideas of individual choice in how work-family relationships are managed and on traditional and hetero-normal family structures (Özbilgin et al., 2011). Further, we argue that the work-family literature is largely underdeveloped in its integration of diversity in work-life experiences. Even when the most widely studied diversity variables such as gender or child- and older adult-care demands are included, researchers often overlook intersectional relationships between gender and other aspects of identity (e.g., race, etc.). By this, we mean that the prevailing work-life literature tends to treat measures of social categories such as gender and race as individual unique characteristics (Acker, 2006; Holvino, 2012 in Ruiz Castro & Holvino, 2016) rather than considering them as situated together within a social context and structures that shape their impact. We maintain that researchers must do a better job of looking at the employee as a “whole person” – how individual’s lives at work and nonwork are interrelated and multiple nonwork identities and roles intersect – to better assess their human resource policy needs. In examining employees’ lives holistically, we suggest that it is essential to examine the degree to which traditional relationships in the work-life literature may need to be reexamined through an intersectional lens. By intersectional, we mean how different combinations of race, gender, class, and other forms of identity highly relevant to how an employee may manage work-life relationships (e.g., also religion, sexuality, ability, immigration status, etc.) may differentially influence work-life dynamics toward some stigmatization, access to work-life resources and demands, as well as how it is shaped by social structures. Thus, as we elaborate in our definition below, work-life intersectionality refers to not merely the combining of two or more social identities in a relationship, but these identities are those that are generally stigmatized. The term “intersectional” has been used in this way in other subfields of the social sciences such as community and social psychology (e.g., Standley & Foster-Fishman, 2021). We expand on this definition below, focusing on work-life flexibility policies as an example of a work-life research stream that might benefit from integrating intersectional views into future research. This is an important gap to address as we believe the lack of attention to the growing diversity of the workforce regarding work-life issues may be one barrier to why work-life flexibility policies have not fully taken hold to more effectively balance employer and employee interests (Kossek & Thompson, 2016; Kossek et al., 2015).


First, there is a need for a more nuanced understanding of how understudied implementation moderators at various levels of analysis (e.g., individual, group, and organizational) lead to effectiveness on and off the job. Second, we shed light on the mechanisms (availability, reciprocity efficiency) by which control is linked to outcomes and add to the understanding of performance at work and home for a dual agenda, which is largely absent from the broader management flexibility literature. Third, adding an intersectionality lens to view work-life flexibility policies opens new avenues for work-life theorizing that moves the literature from a variable-centered approach (i.e., focusing on a single measure empirically and theoretically) to a person-centered approach (i.e., examining patterns of linked variables operating together as a whole) (Bergman & Magnusson, 1997). It may also help researchers understand the conditions under which using different types of flexibility leads to improved control and performance for some employees but less so for others including how aspects of the human resource systems and organizational cultures may need to be revised to support the effective use of work-life flexibility for many different types of workers. Our chapter aims to motivate researchers to examine interdependent clusters of personal characteristics pertaining to relevant work-life variables that operate simultaneously and that may alter the nature of work-life relationships. In doing so, we encourage researchers to examine how institutionalized “work-life privilege” (Kossek & Kelliher, 2022) and societal work-life intersectionality considerations – or the ability of some workers to have greater control over how they manage work-life relationships due to their hierarchical or labor market power and structural societal inequality – such as being a white male with a stay-at-home spouse – may alter assumed relationships between access and use of work-life flexibility policies and outcomes.

Summary of Article Organization

In Part I, we first give an overview of the traditional work–nonwork lens on work-life flexibility policies and how using them may link to experiences of boundary control and performance. Then we introduce an intersectional work-life approach, contrasting traditional and intersectional approaches in Table 1. In Part II, we present our model of the traditional approach that examines general relationships between using work-life flexibility policies and performance via boundary control, varying mediating mechanisms, and implementation moderators. In Part III, we examine new considerations for future research that emerge when an intersectional lens is incorporated to view work-life flexibility policies including how basic assumptions about the use and impacts of work-life flexibility policies might be modified to account for variance in how flexibility may operate and link to outcomes. For example, we assume that work-life boundaries may be more permeable and operate in more varied ways for employees with many highly salient and stigmatized work-life intersectional identities (e.g., women of color with lower status; single working mothers) compared to employees with fewer impactful intersectional characteristics.

Table 1.

Comparison of Traditional and Intersectional Work-Life Views.

Traditional Work-Family View (Part II) Intersectional Work-Life View (Part III)
Theoretical Lenses
Common Terminology Work-family
  • Not only nuclear families in which one or both parents work but also working teenagers; single working adults with siblings, parents, or other relations; and other persons who work and have immediate or extended families” (Edwards & Rothbard, 2000, p. 180)

Work-life or work-nonwork
Traditionally Studied Samples Traditional households with limited racial diversity Diverse, but more in conceptual than empirical research
  • Although intersectionality involves wide-ranging diversity – including “minority, marginalized, and/or under-researched groups” (Beauregard et al., 2020, p. 465), recent critiques suggest that this is studied from a management standpoint more at a conceptual level than an empirical one (Hall et al., 2019)

Definitional Assumptions
  • Having multiple nonwork identities are assumed to be considered as an intersectional approach, but not necessarily sufficient for the assumed effects without consideration of stigmatized social identity and power dynamics (e.g., equal access to and opportunities to leverage resources to manage the work-life interface). (This paper: Kossek et al., 2023)

Level of Analysis Individual level
  • Employee experiences and outcomes (e.g., work-family conflict, health, and well-being; Burrell et al., 2006)

  • Top-down macro-level influences including political influences, history, and gender norms (e.g., sexism and patriarchal influence; Crenshaw, 1989, 1991)

Analytical Approach Variable-centered approaches
  • Consider how discreet individual attributes shape outcomes (Byron, 2005)

Person-centered approaches
  • Assume that clusters of work-nonwork-related attributes jointly operate to shape outcomes (Kossek, 2012)

Attention to Context Limited Broader but incomplete
  • Recognition that “historical and structural power relations are taken into account” but not fully integrated into intersectionality perspectives (Özbilgin et al., 2011, p. 180)

  • Broaden context to address how individuals, workgroup, and organizational HR systems affect policy implementation

  • Assess mechanisms of control afforded through policies

  • (Simultaneous) consideration of both work and nonwork performance outcomes

  • Integrate how institutions, power structures, and social intergroup dynamics shape policy implementation

  • Consider additional policy access and use barriers experienced by those with stigmatized, intersectional identities

  • Assess unique work and nonwork outcomes specific to those with stigmatized intersectional identities

  • Consider how intersectional stigmatized identities may have multiplicative effects that alter traditionally assumed dynamics of resources

Part I: Comparing Traditional and Intersectional Lenses on Work-life Flexibility Policies

Overview of Traditional Approach

Work-life flexibility policies have historically been viewed in the work-life literature through what we refer to as a traditional work–nonwork theoretical lens: as organizational resources that when accessed and used are rationally assumed to either reduce conflict (e.g., Greenhaus & Beutell, 1985) and buffer strain between or to facilitate and enrich (cf. Greenhaus & Powell, 2006) relationships between work and nonwork roles. For example, ten Brummelhuis and Bakker (2012) argue in their integrative model that individual resources link across work and home roles such that demands in one domain such as home deplete resources for the other, resulting in work-home role conflict (see also Greenhaus & Beutell, 1985). At the same time, resources accumulated in one domain such as work can help with managing the demands of the other domain such as home (see also Greenhaus & Powell, 2006).

Through this lens, work-life flexibility is presumed to provide control to workers to manage work role boundaries (Capitano et al., 2019) and demands, enabling employees to alter the timing or location of the work role (Kossek & Lautsch, 2022) or the freedom to manage time for tasks completed with a results orientation instead of just hours worked (Kelly et al., 2010). A traditional view of work-life flexibility policies (Kossek & Lautsch, 2018) integrates boundary theory (Ashforth et al., 2000), implementation approaches (Kossek et al., 2022), and theory on HR systems strength pertaining to cultural support for work-life policies (Bowen & Ostroff, 2004; Perry-Smith & Blum, 2000). Work-life flexibility policies are conceptualized as vehicles that enable individuals to exert control over the work role boundary along five dimensions: (1) temporal, when the role is conducted; (2) spatial, where the role is conducted; (3) size, which reflects the scope of the role; (4) continuity, which affects the ability to disengage from the role for discrete periods (e.g., days and weeks); and (5) permeability, referring to the extent to which the work role boundary is separated from (thick with few cross-role interruptions) or integrated with (thin with frequent role crossings) other roles (Kossek et al., 2022). Boundary control is not a personal trait but rather the ability to control one’s border crossings between work and nonwork roles along these multi-dimensional features of the role boundary (Allen et al., 2013; Kossek et al., 2022; Kossek, Lautsch, & Eaton, 2006).

Whether work-life flexibility policies confer control, and whether that control ultimately enhances performance in work and nonwork domains, is conditioned by implementation that is enacted by multiple stakeholders and across levels. Implementation occurs as policy features are adapted through use to align with the demands of a particular context (Herrera-Sanchez et al., 2017). While limited aspects of implementation have been examined in the traditional literature on work-life flexibility policies, particularly the role of supervisors as gatekeepers (Crain & Stevens, 2018; Hammer et al., 2009; Kossek et al., 2011; Straub, 2012), other implementation elements are comparatively under-examined including the efforts of individuals to shape flexibility use and outcomes, the demands and resources of the home context, coworker support, and the alignment of flexibility policies with the broader HR system within the firm (Kossek et al., 2022). Regarding this latter point, while organizational cultural support is often referenced in general as important for implementation in many work-life flexibility policies, we believe that the concept and operationalization of HR systems strength may provide an avenue for researchers to assess cultural support in relation to human resource practices.

Specifically, Bowen and Ostroff (2004) note that HR systems are characterized by (1) substantive intent or the purpose the policies are designed to achieve (e.g., performance) and (2) process: the set of practices, such as flexibility policies, that are implemented to reflect employer goals and values. HR systems are stronger when content and process are integrated such that ambiguity about policy intent and use is reduced and compliance with policy is increased; individual differences are less likely to shape attitudes and behavior as a result (Bowen & Ostroff, 2004). Historically, work-life flexibility policies have been implemented in weak system contexts; their usability has often been ambiguous as they have been offered with the limited employer and cultural support (Eaton, 2003). Consequently, career-oriented employees have under-utilized work-life flexibility policies (Kossek & Lautsch, 2018), and users – often women – have faced stigma, backlash, and negative attributions for using flexibility for family demands (Leslie et al, 2012; Perrigino et al., 2018). Effective work-life flexibility policy implementation requires alignment with employer goals and values in a strong HR system, which enhances coordination with other related HR practices (e.g., compensation and career development).

Overview of Intersectional Approach

The traditional work-life literature has given limited attention to diversity beyond gender and child- and older adult-care demands, often overlooking intersectional relationships between these identities as well as recent research on intersectionality (Crenshaw, 1989, 1991). Work-life intersectionality considers how the work-life interface differs for individuals with multiple stigmatized social identities in the context of organizational and social systems that may perpetuate inequity. Intersectionality theory originated in the work of Crenshaw (1989, 1991) who, focusing on the experience of Black women, uncovered the limitations of a “single-axis framework” in which race, gender, or class might be examined separately:

Because the intersectional experience is greater than the sum of racism and sexism, any analysis that does not take intersectionality into account cannot sufficiently address the particular manner in which Black women are subordinated. (1989, p. 140)

Intersectional arguments echo many aspects of feminist critiques of essentialism (or the idea that social categories like race or gender have a core and unchanging essence so that the group can be represented by any member of it). Such arguments have similarly noted that the experiences of Black women become invisible in analysis that examines only white women as placeholders for all women (Carbado & Harris, 2019), which has historically (due to limited sample size) been the case in research grounding traditional views of work-life flexibility.

Intersectionality has expanded the consideration of not only race, gender, and class but also sexuality, religion, immigration status, and ability and has been influential in many literatures – including its introduction to work-life research with the work of Özbilgin et al. (2011). Central to any intersectional analyses are issues of identity (including interlocking multiple identities and identity stigma) along with power and resources. Such a view is also consistent with seminal research on work and family, suggesting that just as work-life experiences do not occur in separate spheres (Bailyn, 1993; Kanter, 1983), so too should work-life research challenge the assumptions that employees’ nonwork identities are separate from each other and that they occur independently from how individuals carry out their work role and shape their access to, experiences with, and benefits from using work-life flexibility.


From an intersectional perspective, individuals derive a self-identity from a multiplicity of social identities attached to social categories (e.g., age and gender) and the meanings associated with them (Corlett & Mavin, 2014). Identities combine to shape lived experience in a manner that is interactional rather than additive. Merely considering the effects of, for example, race and gender as in a quantitative study with indicator variables for both categories, is not intersectionality (Ryan & Briggs, 2019). Instead, social categories can be seen as mutually constituting. Further, the identity categories examined within an intersectional perspective (e.g., gender, race, sexuality, and ability) are linked to stigma in that they are “devalued or derogated by persons within a particular culture at a particular point in time” (Paetzold et al., 2008, p. 186). In the context of health research, for example, Jackson-Best and Edwards (2018) argue that intersectional approaches should consider the joint effects of stigma emanating from not only multiple health conditions (e.g., disability and HIV/AIDS) but also other identity sources such as race and sexuality.

Power and Resources

The embedding of identities within a social context has particularly been overlooked in the work-life literature, which has instead maintained an “overwhelming focus on the analysis of individual-level variables… trivializing much wider power issues” (Özbilgin et al., 2011, p. 183). The social categories of intersectionality such as race, gender, and sexuality have meaning that is shaped by a particular historical and cultural context that imbues them (or not) with power and resources. Thus, an intersectional lens is inherently multilevel and focused upon systems that maintain or disrupt inequity.

Drawing on previous reviews (Else-Quest & Hyde, 2016; Özbilgin et al., 2011; Ryan & Briggs, 2019), we define work-life intersectionality as the ways in which: (1) several categories of social identities and values (e.g., race, gender, class, religion, sexuality, ability, and nationality) may combine to create joint effects on work-life relationships in ways that (2) may affect inequality in access to and/or benefits from societal resources for managing the work–nonwork interface, and the distribution of nonwork responsibilities; and (3) which can often result in social context dynamics creating stigmatization and disadvantaging employees’ opportunities for well-being on and off the job. Such joint intersections are shaped by organizational and societal structures that may perpetuate inequality. Thus, three conditions are assumed to be integrated to capture one’s extent of work-life intersectionality: (1) the possessing of several interdependent nonwork social identities, (2) that when combined are stigmatized (i.e., seen as undesirable by others), and (3) are also related to having lower access to and/or benefits from work-life support resources occurring in a particular cultural context. It is important here to note that some individuals such as a white man or a white woman can hold both privileged and stigmatized intersectional identities beyond their gender and race such as sexual orientation or disability status and may benefit from intersectional invisibility such that some of these other stigmatized identities may not be visible until raised through seeking out work-life flexibility policies due to considerations for their other identities, for example, adopting a baby with a partner or seeking flexible arrangements due to a chronic illness or having to take custody of children, etc. This is consistent with the work of Atewologun et al. (2016) who studied intersectional identity work and found that intersecting identities of gender, ethnicity, and rank can be experienced by individuals as simultaneously providing advantages (e.g., senior rank) and disadvantages (e.g., female gender and minority ethnicity).

While consensus has not yet emerged in empirical research on the operationalization of intersectionality in general, “it is generally considered a compounded variable, with more marginalized identities representing greater intersectional risk” (Standley & Foster-Fishman, 2021, p. 205). Studies show that individuals who identify with more than one stigmatized group report receiving more unfair treatment compared to individuals who identify with one or no stigmatized categorizations (Remedios & Snyder, 2018). We similarly suggest that higher work-life intersectionality considerations exist for an individual where they have more intersecting identities that confer greater stigma as well as lesser resources and power. Higher work-life intersectionality would entail considering more stigmatized identities simultaneously in a context that systematically disempowers members of certain groups, whereas lower work-life intersectionality would indicate consideration of fewer identities in a given context.

Comparing and Contrasting Traditional and Intersectional Approaches

Summarizing the two approaches above, Table 1 identifies six central distinctions between the traditional and intersectional approaches to examining work-life flexibility policies: theoretical lenses, level of analysis, analytical approach, common terminology, traditionally studied samples, and attention to context.

Regarding theoretical lenses, the traditional approach developed its own theories – including now-seminal perspectives on work-family conflict (Greenhaus & Beutell, 1985), work-family enrichment (Greenhaus & Powell, 2006), spillover theory (Edwards & Rothbard, 2000), and boundary management theory (Ashforth et al., 2000) – in response to emergent issues associated with the impact of increased globalization, changing workforce demographics, and technology developments that first began to impact family life in the late 1970s and early 1980s (Katzell & Austin, 1992). In contrast, recent developments of intersectionality theory (e.g., Hall et al., 2019) were preceded by the integration of a variety of identity-based theories including social identity (Tajfel & Turner, 1979) and optimal distinctiveness (Brewer, 1991). Although shifting currently toward the use of “work-life,” “work-family” has been the common terminology of the traditional approach, with this focus reflected in the traditionally studied samples of nuclear families consisting of married individuals with children. In contrast, the intersectionality approach commonly refers to “work–nonwork” or “work-life” issues to capture broader experiences beyond the work/family domains and encompass marginalized groups of individuals – although there are some critiques that these groups remain understudied in management-focused empirical research (Hall et al., 2019).

The traditional approach primarily focuses on the individual level of analysis, with analytical approaches centered around discrete variables (e.g., comparing work-family conflict experiences between men and women; Byron, 2005). Interestingly, however, intersectional analyses are primarily person-centered, meaning that clusters of various attributes and identities jointly operate to shape outcomes (Kossek et al., 2012; Hall et al., 2019). Thus, the intersectionality approach is multilevel in scope primarily from a sociological standpoint with person-centered approaches recognizing that these clusters of attributes and identities within individuals are shaped by various layers of context (e.g., history and gendered norms; Crenshaw, 1989). Although the traditional approach also considers context, it does so primarily in terms of recognizing the top-down influences of supervisor support and the work-family and work-life cultures within organizations, whereas the intersectional perspective calls for a bottom-up approach that centers on the most marginalized (Crenshaw, 1989; Hooks, 1984).

Finally, there are opportunities for both approaches to benefit from more theoretical development and empirical research addressing their key foundations. We develop additional theory and unpack these opportunities in Part II (traditional approach) and Part III (intersectional approach) of our manuscript. In Part II, we present a general model showing how access and use of flexibility policies relate to boundary control and work and home performance for all individuals. While we maintain that our model will hold in general, as we developed the model, we noticed an important gap that diversity theorizing is not strongly integrated into work-family theories. In Part III, we consider how taking an intersectional approach to reviewing the model opens rich horizons for future research.

Part II: Work-life Flexibility Model: Enriching the Traditional Boundary Control and Implementation Perspective

In this section, we discuss the propositions in Fig. 1 and our theoretical model that integrates boundary control and multilevel policy implementation lenses to examine how work-life flexibility alters performance in work and nonwork domains.

Fig. 1. Work-Life Flexibility Policies: From a Traditional View toward Work-Life Intersectionality Considerations.

Fig. 1.

Work-Life Flexibility Policies: From a Traditional View toward Work-Life Intersectionality Considerations.

Drawing on the work of Kossek et al. (2022), we argue through six propositions (see boxes in Fig. 1) that the use of work-life flexibility policies provides individuals with the ability to control five dimensions (temporal, spatial, size, continuity, permeability) of the work role boundary. This construct is referred to in the figure as “Boundary Control.” We suggest that this relationship is conditioned by the extent to which and how the organization implements work-life flexibility policies. Control over the work role boundary in turn affects performance outcomes for both work and nonwork roles. We use the term “nonwork” to reflect the multi-faceted commitments individuals have to their families, friends, communities, and personal interests. Work performance is defined as the behaviors individuals use to carry out job role responsibilities to meet employer goals (Motowidlo & Kell, 2012). Nonwork performance is defined as the behaviors one uses to carry out nonwork role responsibilities to meet nonwork goals. These include the family role (e.g., parent, spouse, and partner), and other nonwork roles that are meaningful to one’s personal identity (e.g., student and citizen) (e.g., Wilson & Baumann, 2015).

As we elaborate below, we expect positive effects of flexibility on performance in nonwork roles, due to increased availability for nonwork tasks, but more equivocal effects on work performance. The work performance of individuals who can reshape the work boundary may benefit if they are motivated by their work arrangement to work more efficiently, for example, at times of peak efficiency (Shepard et al., 1996) or to extend their work efforts as reciprocation for the opportunity to work flexibly. At the same time, their reduced availability to their colleagues can also impair work performance.

Finally, we suggest that the impact of using flexibility on performance in work and nonwork realms is moderated by how individuals enact flexibility to align with their work and nonwork identities and their group context. Additionally, theory has under-addressed work contextual factors that may shape the ability to benefit from workplace flexibility (Van Dyne et al., 2007). Yet there are key differences that condition the impacts of flexibility not only in terms of variation in the ways that individual’s work and nonwork identities (Stryker & Serpe, 1982) shape how one synthesizes the management of role engagement across multiple roles (Kossek & Lautsch, 2012) but also in how teams structure work tasks and processes to support each other. For example, making highly frequent personal interruptions to modify the work boundary to be available for nonwork matters may lessen the benefits of work-life flexibility for work performance for individuals who do not have a highly salient work identity. At the group level, teams that operate with a mechanistic focus on process and “face-time” rather than results, and without a collaborative approach to work scheduling also will reduce the benefits of flexibility (Perlow, 2012). Our model incorporates work and nonwork identity salience as well as workgroup norms and processes to illustrate how phenomena at multiple levels influence flexibility’s effects on work and nonwork performance.

Our first set of propositions focuses on links between policy use, work boundary control, and variation in organizational implementation of policies.

Use of Work-Life Flexibility Policies and Control Over the Work Role Boundary

Where flexibility policies are used, it is clear from the literature that the intent is to provide discretion to control varied features (temporal, spatial, size, continuity, permeability) of the work boundary (Kossek et al., 2022). For example, one review defined flextime as “the ability to exercise some choice over when work is carried out” (de Menezes & Kelliher, 2011, p. 456) or when to arrive or leave work, affording control over temporal aspects of the work role boundary. Similarly, a policy such as hoteling, which provides a teleworker the option to book space at a main or satellite work site as needed, is intended to provide control over the spatial limits of the work role boundary. Policies that allow individuals to job share, a variant of part-time work in which two employees share hours and duties, offer each the possibility to control the size of the work role boundary. Bring your own device to work (BYOD) policies (Bamboo HR, 2022) facilitate employee control over the permeability of the work role boundary, as they may enable the individual choice to use personal devices to access work enterprise systems and to manage access to personal texts or emails during the day.

Consistent with the intent of work-life flexibility policies to provide some control over the work role limits, which we briefly examined above, studies show positive linkages of use to control perceptions. For instance, as Gajendran & Harrison (2007, p.1535) note in their meta-analysis: “telecommuting … is associated with increased perceptions of autonomy.” Thus, we propose that employees who use work-life flexibility policies are more likely to have the ability to control the work role boundary compared to similar employees who do not use policies.

P1. Employees who use work-life flexibility policies experience greater control over the temporal and spatial characteristics, size, continuity, and permeability of the work role boundary than those who do not use work-life flexibility policies.

Certainly, using certain work-life flexibility policies can enable control over the work role’s spatial boundary, for example, by providing one the authority to determine whether to work at home or in the office on a given day. However, it does not guarantee that one is necessarily protected from attempts from management or others in the organization to reduce the control that one has acquired from policy use. Thus, it is critical to conceptually distinguish policy use from the extent of boundary control because, as we contend, flexibility policies – despite their intentions – do not inevitably increase control. Below we examine how the strength of the relationship between policy use and control over the work role boundary depends on an organization’s policy implementation approach.

Organizational Implementation Approach

We define the organizational implementation approach as the cultural and structural ways that an organization implements flexibility policies to provide employees the discretion to control the work role boundary. It is assessed via two characteristics that we found were prevalent in the employer implementation literature: cultural support for flexibility policy use and customizability. We contend that these attributes can enhance or weaken linkages between the use of a flexibility policy and boundary control.

Cultural Support for Flexibility Policy Use

Research has well documented that firms can vary in the extent to which they support the use of flexibility policies (Williams et al., 2013). Managers are critical actors in the implementation process as they serve as gatekeepers to flexibility use affecting cultural support (Kossek et al., 2015). Managers also make attributions regarding whether their staff use flexibility for performance or personal reasons, and these judgments influence employees’ performance evaluations and career success (Leslie et al., 2012). A lack of cultural support for nonwork roles and, in particular, flexibility not only restricts the use of a work-life flexibility policy but also limits the extent of boundary control afforded by policy use due to the increased likelihood of boundary violations from colleagues (Trefalt, 2013). The potential for increased boundary control from a flexibility policy would be lessened, for example, if team norms persist in expecting policy users’ attendance at on-site meetings during a part-timer’s day off or on one’s established telework day.


Research shows that HR policies (such as flexibility) are most effective when they are implemented in ways that meet the needs of multiple constituencies and when they are adaptable and evolve to meet changing employee needs (Tsui & Milkovich, 1987). Control is likely to be enhanced, the more flexibility policies are “flexible” in how they are implemented so they can be customized to meet employees’ needs (Kossek & Lautsch, 2012). For example, a customizable flextime policy might allow working parents to adjust start times in the summer when children are not in school, enhancing their temporal control. Similarly, a customizable reduced load work arrangement might enable an employee attending university to adjust whether they work three or four days per week, allowing them to pursue further education and accommodate their shifting class schedule. The more that implementation of a policy can be adapted to meet a worker’s personal needs, the greater control the individual will experience from the use of the policy.

P2. The use of work-life flexibility policies enhances control over the work role boundary to a greater degree when policies are: (a) more culturally supported by the organization and its members (e.g., supervisors, leaders, peers) and are (b) individually customizable to meet personal needs.

Individual Implementation of Work-Life Flexibility

Just as job crafters vary in how they shape and perform their jobs (Wrzesniewski & Dutton, 2001), so too we argue that individuals vary in how they implement “work-life flexibility” (Kossek & Lautsch, 2012). Individuals vary in how they carry out work-life flexibility in ways that allow them to support the multiple roles they fill; how they do so is influenced by their personal identities and their perceptions of their nonwork and work social environments (Weick, 1979). Ashforth et al. (2000) noted that the more that roles are highly important to one’s identity, the more likely that individuals will want to manage boundaries to engage in that role within and across domains. Below we examine the main effects of work-life flexibility on nonwork performance through increased nonwork availability mechanisms; and compare control over boundary size to other forms, followed by the moderating effects of nonwork identity salience.

Effects of Control Over the Work Role Boundary on Performance in the Nonwork Domain

Physical and Psychological Availability

We suggest that work-life flexibility affects individuals’ performance in nonwork roles by shaping their availability to engage in nonwork activities. We define availability in terms of both physical availability (presence) and psychological availability (readiness to engage). Physical availability, the ability to be physically present in a role, facilitates “being there.” Psychological availability is the “sense of having the physical, emotional, or psychological resources to personally engage at a particular moment” (Kahn, 1990, p. 714). It has been shown to foster the energy (Russo et al., 2015), creativity (Binyamin & Carmeli, 2010), and engagement (Kahn, 1990; May et al., 2004) necessary to perform well at work and home.

Increases in physical availability may be achieved through increased control over any of the five dimensions of the work role boundary. For example, an individual who manages care for a chronically ill child may exert work-life flexibility to control the size of the work boundary by reducing work hours or adjusting continuity by taking a medical leave. Or they may shift the spatial boundary by frequently teleworking or use flextime to shift temporal boundaries to restructure meetings and schedule medical appointments. Or they may constantly multi-task, shifting between work emails and tasks and nonwork activities (e.g., contacting the pharmacy, getting homework, checking in on the child), increasing permeability. These examples illustrate how having greater work-life flexibility to control different dimensions of the work role boundary is likely to increase physical and psychological availability to perform the nonwork role. Not being physically present can reduce one’s ability to participate fully in nonwork activities, to perform well in them, and to be psychologically engaged. Studies of the impact of a military lifestyle, for instance, have shown that the recurring periodic separations that military families experience are negatively related to well-being and marital satisfaction (Burrell et al., 2006). Consistent with the theory on boundaries (Ashforth et al., 2000) and availability (Kahn, 1990), we propose that individuals who have higher control to alter the work role boundaries across the five dimensions will be likely to be more physically available and have higher performance in nonwork roles. Such physical availability may also feed into and can support psychological availability, as individuals can be more able to be psychological available when physically present. As role salience identity theory (Stryker & Serpe, 1982) suggests, the more time people physically allocate to a role, the greater their psychological attachment.

P3a. Control over the work role boundary increases employees’ physical and psychological availability for nonwork roles, which enhances their performance in the nonwork domain.

Moderating Effects of Type of Work Role Boundary Control on the Relationship Strength Between Availability and Nonwork Performance

Compared to other dimensions, we theorize that the relationship between work role boundary control and psychological availability may be most facilitated by having higher control over the size of the work role boundary. If individuals reduce the size (e.g., working a reduced load role such as 32 rather than a typical 40 hours a week), they will experience a lower level of work-related demands (Duxbury & Halinski, 2014), thereby increasing psychological resources like energy and attention for the nonwork role. This view is in accord with work-family role conflict theory, which maintains that individuals have limited resources to fulfill their roles, and that resources devoted to meeting demands in one domain make it difficult to satisfy demands in another domain (Greenhaus & Beutell, 1985).

Nonwork role performance can also be expected to be enhanced when individuals can access multiple mechanisms linking control and performance, rather than merely one. Control over the size of the work role boundary may increase both physical and psychological availability for nonwork roles, enhancing resources to detach from work, preventing job creep and fostering better nonwork engagement (Rothbard et al., 2005). Control over the size of the work role boundary may have a stronger effect on nonwork performance than other forms of boundary control.

For example, individuals whose telework provides increased control over spatial boundaries but are required to engage in work conference calls while a child does homework can experience enhanced physical availability but not necessarily enhanced psychological availability. Similarly, having increased control over the temporal boundary via flextime may allow an individual to reorder their day to physically attend an early doctor’s appointment, but may not reduce burdens or add resources to enhance such psychological availability. Unlike size control, with spatial and temporal control, total work and nonwork performance demands are not reduced but merely reshuffled in time and space. Similarly, policies enabling individuals to create a more permeable work boundary to constantly text and email family while working may increase physical availability to respond to nonwork needs, but any potential gains in psychological availability may be offset by added strains from multi-tasking.

P3b. Control over the size of the work role boundary enhances performance in the nonwork domain to a greater degree than does control over the other dimensions of control over the work role boundary (temporal and spatial characteristics, continuity, and permeability).

Control Bundling and Chilling Effects

Consistent with the idea of “complementary capabilities” from social capital theory, which maintains that actors, and individuals in their networks, may have abilities or resources that become more powerful when deployed in combination (Adler & Kwon, 2002), we argue that different forms of work-life flexibility to control the work boundary can have bundling as well as chilling effects. Economists studying bundles of human resource management (HRM) practices suggest that the marginal effect of altering a single HRM practice will be much less than the results achieved when sets of complementary practices are implemented together as a coherent system of practices (Ichniowski et al., 1997). This logic has been suggested for work-life programs more generally (Perry-Smith & Blum, 2000).

Drawing on this literature, we suggest that the benefits of work-life flexibility on nonwork role performance are deepened when multiple types of flexibility are present or “bundled together.” For instance, individuals whose employers provide a flextime program that allows employees to vary the start of work between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. with corresponding changes in departure from work gain some ability to adjust the temporal dimension of the work role boundary. But they might not have the full availability required to assist with complex family needs such as an aging parent with repeated appointments for medical treatments that require a long commute and hours in hospitals. In such cases, temporal control over the work boundary would have greater positive effects on nonwork performance if combined with the ability to work from other locations (spatial) offering more accessibility for older adult-caregiving, or with a reduction in workload and hours (size) to enhance availability for the health care tasks.

Such reasoning is consistent with recent flexibility literature reviews urging researchers to follow the lead of HRM scholars to consider synergies across bundles of flexibility practices (de Menezes & Kelliher, 2011). Some work-life empirical work has begun to explore interrelationships across work-family and work-life programs and practices and supports the usefulness of this approach. Greenhaus et al. (2012), for example, found that the relationship between family-supportive supervision and balance was stronger for employees in family-supportive organizational environments than unsupportive environments. Accordingly, we propose that different types of work-life flexibility complement each other so that their effects on availability for and performance in nonwork tasks will be heightened when used in combination.

The converse is also true. We propose that a “chilling effect” exists whereby having lower work-life flexibility related to one dimension of the work boundary weakens the benefits of other types of flexibility control. For example, an individual who telecommutes (and has control over the spatial characteristics of the work role boundary) may experience limited gains in their availability to attend parent–teacher meetings at a child’s school if their workload is very high (boundary size) or if they are required to work set hours even when working at home (temporal boundary). Being unable to control the size and permeability and scheduling of the work role will weaken the benefit of working at home in such situations. Supporting this argument is Hunton’s research (2005) showing that telecommuting from locations that limit control over work intrusions into the nonwork domain (e.g., teleworking from home rather than a satellite office) will reduce one’s ability to carry out one’s job and attend to personal issues.

P3c. Each form of boundary control enhances performance in the nonwork domain to a greater degree when the other forms of boundary control are high than when they are low.

Individual Work-Life Flexibility Enactment and Nonwork Performance

In this section, we turn to moderators that condition the effect of control over the work role boundary on nonwork performance. We argue that whether work-life flexibility leads to higher nonwork performance depends on the strength of one’s nonwork identity salience.

Salience of Nonwork Identity

We suggest that the effects proposed in 3a will be magnified as the person is able to focus on a nonwork role that is highly meaningful. Having work-life flexibility does not always mean that one will necessarily make oneself more available to perform nonwork activities; it depends on the person and the situation. Individuals differ in the values and priorities they hold regarding work and nonwork roles (Carlson & Kacmar, 2000). Roles that are highly salient to an individual are a means of self-definition and personal satisfaction (Amatea et al., 1986). Work and nonwork role identities reflect the degree to which one attaches social value and meaning to work and nonwork roles, and individuals vary in their identities, such as they may be work-centric, or more generally nonwork centric such as family centric (Kossek & Lautsch, 2012). Individuals enact work-life flexibility in varied ways based on these varying identity configurations (Capitano et al., 2017; Kossek & Lautsch, 2012). Consistent with Ashforth et al.’s (2000) argument that individuals are more likely to want to enact role identities that are highly meaningful, we suggest that individuals are more likely to apply their ability to control the work role boundary to increase their availability for nonwork activities if they highly identify with nonwork roles.

Previous studies are consistent with this idea that increased salience of one’s nonwork identity will shape motivation to use boundary control to attain greater availability and performance in the nonwork domain. Studies show, for example, that both men and women are likely to be equally interested in using flextime and telework, but individuals with higher involvement and identification in caregiving such as women are more likely to use work-life flexibility to support nonwork identities such as caregiving (Brescoll et al., 2013) as it is seen as a way to not only enable control over the work role but also facilitate one’s ability to allocate availability toward family performance (Hammer et al., 2005). Individuals who highly identify with nonwork roles are also likely to increase their work boundary permeability to stay available to family while at work (Ashforth et al., 2000), or use control over work scheduling (the temporal boundary) to support nonwork involvement. We argue that such individuals are likely to have higher nonwork performance because they will be more available to nonwork demands.

A key mechanism by which individuals with high nonwork identity salience achieve availability for their nonwork role demands is through controlling work-to-nonwork interruptions (Kossek et al., 2012). Interruptions have been defined as incidents that temporarily suspend progress on tasks (Baethge & Rigotti, 2013). They have also been defined as “breaks,” “distractions,” “intrusions,” and as an unexpected encounter that limits the flow and continuity of work or nonwork task completion (Jett & George, 2003). Interruptions are linked to a reduced ability to immerse oneself in a task (Chen & Karahanna, 2014), to reduced creativity (Amabile, 1998), and to reduced task quality (Gupta et al., 2013). Frequent role transitions lead to process losses in being able to complete a task due in part to switching costs or inefficiencies in moving back and forth to transition between two roles (Alzahabi et al., 2017; Kossek & Lautsch, 2012), and to less focus on the role at hand (Ashforth et al., 2000; Neale & Griffin, 2006). Minimizing interruption behaviors avoids inefficiencies and process losses and maximizes one’s sustained availability in a highly salient nonwork domain.

P4. Each form of boundary control enhances performance in the nonwork domain to a greater degree for employees whose nonwork identity salience is high than for employees whose nonwork identity salience is low.

Effect of Work-Life Flexibility on Performance in the Work Domain

Having work-life flexibility may have both upsides and downsides for work performance. We assume that the positive effects of flexibility on work performance are driven by two mechanisms: (1) reciprocity – individuals appreciate work-life flexibility and respond with increased work effort; (2) efficiency – with the ability to adapt the temporal, spatial, size, continuity, or permeability dimensions of the work role boundary, individuals are more able to work when, where, and how they will be most productive. At the same time, we suggest that there may be disadvantages associated with work-life flexibility that reflect a third mechanism that shapes the relationships between flexibility and work performance; and (3) reduced availability to others in the workplace and potential relationship damage that may accrue as a result. The effect of work-life flexibility on work performance, then, is dependent on whether the gains that flexibility leads to in terms of efficiency and reciprocity are outweighed by the disadvantages associated with not being available for colleagues (Van Dyne et al., 2007). Given these competing gains and losses, we do not predict a main effect for the relationship between flexibility and work performance, but focus on moderators that shift the relationship toward being beneficial or detrimental.

We suggest below that both individuals and work groups may shape how flexibility is implemented and the extent to which relevant mechanisms – reciprocity, efficiency, or availability – affect work performance. Individuals who have higher boundary control, which we define as the extent to which one has control over the work role may alter its effects on work performance through their efforts to shape interruptions to manage their work and nonwork availability in a manner that best reflects the salience of their work identity. Workgroup contexts such as supportive team results-oriented work environments and scheduling practices also influence the relationship between using flexibility and work performance.

Salience of Work Identity

It is plausible that having greater control over the work role boundary might improve the efficiency and effort that individuals achieve in their work performance. Greater work-life temporal flexibility may allow individuals to select work hours that correspond to their own peak hours of productivity (Shepard et al., 1996). In addition, greater location flexibility might, for example, allow a teleworking programmer who finds inspiration in the middle of the night to work more efficiently at that time. Teleworkers, who have control over spatial work role boundaries may benefit from avoiding long-hours spent commuting and may increase their productivity and output by devoting some portion of those time savings to additional work (Beauregard & Henry, 2009); this argument is consistent with empirical findings of positive associations between hours of work and flexibility (e.g., Golden, 2001). Yet we argue that efficiency gains may not be realized if individuals do not have a highly salient work identity or if they allow nonwork to constantly interrupt work focus. A work arrangement like telecommuting, for example, may place the worker in greater proximity to family members enabling more interruptions during work time. If this happens frequently, some of the beneficial outcomes of work-life flexibility for work performance will not be realized. Although not all interruptions detract from individual effectiveness, and instead sometimes provide a needed break (Jett & George, 2003), high levels of interruptions can be assumed to reduce efficiency in the work role. Individuals for whom the work role is highly salient will be likely to enact their work-life flexibility in a manner that allows them to limit nonwork interruptions of the work role (e.g., a teleworker who decides to regularly keep the door to the home office shut while working). While some individuals may allow a diminishing of efficiency to be available for nonwork issues in a timely manner, others may prefer to limit nonwork interruptions, maintaining work focus and efficient performance. Here the gains in efficiency and work performance from having work-life flexibility are likely to be maintained.

P5. Control over the work role boundary enhances performance in the work domain for employees whose work identity salience is high and weakens performance in the work domain for employees whose work identity salience is low.

Workgroup Flexibility Context

Workgroups shape how flexibility is enacted and the extent to which each of these mechanisms – reciprocity, efficiency, and availability – affects work performance (Van Dyne et al., 2007). Employees are nested in workgroups that influence how members construe the opportunities and constraints of how work is to be conducted and the effects of flexibility on work performance. Not all workgroups support work-life flexibility or develop positive norms around its use (Blair-Loy & Wharton, 2002). Work-life flexibility is often offered as an individual “accommodation” without considering how its enactment relates to group norms (Van Dyne et al., 2007). Below we consider two key elements of the group context that we identified in the literature as influencing relationships between work-life flexibility and work performance.

Results-oriented Work Environment

The effects of individual control over work role boundaries on work performance may be conditioned by whether the team has a results-oriented work environment (ROWE). Teams with such environments are characterized by a cultural shift away from a traditional bureaucratized process-oriented work context to focus on work action and goal achievement. Members are socialized to avoid focusing on “face-time,” physical presence, and the number of hours worked as means to facilitate productivity (Kelly et al., 2010). Individuals are empowered to “do whatever they want, whenever they want, as long as the work gets done” (Ressler & Thompson, 2008). Kelly et al. (2010) describe a ROWE as empowering group members to alter when and where they work without having to get permission from a manager so long as they coordinate with coworkers. Staff can reconsider meetings, questioning whether they are necessary, who should attend, and who could provide input asynchronously online.

With this type of environment, individuals with higher control over work boundaries are more likely to experience higher work performance because they can better restructure work boundaries (i.e., alter schedules, permeability, location, continuity, or size) to allow them to manage work–nonwork demands more synergistically. Further, those who work from home or work nontraditional hours face less stigma or negative attributions (Ressler & Thompson, 2008), thereby further strengthening the relationship between work-life flexibility and work performance since energy will not be used justifying how work-life flexibility is being enacted.

Such a group culture increases norms of reciprocity and efficiency. It also may motivate availability for critical work tasks, as teams learn to prioritize high-value tasks that are the most critical. Since efficiencies are focused on completing high-value tasks rather than low-value tasks (e.g., avoiding long meetings that are unproductive, psychologically depleting, and decrease physical availability for completing work tasks), groups adhering more highly to results-oriented cultural norms that focus on key tasks will have enhanced psychological resources and energy to perform work. This team context is consistent with a long line of research on implementing flexibility policies such as telework, which commonly recommends that managers shift from a face-time to a results-oriented supervisory approach to foster efficiency and reciprocity instead of undermining teleworker performance (Lautsch et al., 2009). In sum, the positive effects of work-life flexibility on work performance will be stronger in a group with a higher results-oriented work environment culture.

Collaborative Time Management Scheduling Practices and Predictable Time Off

Evidence is growing that work groups that organize work scheduling collaboratively better support predictable time off (PTO) and team back up when individuals need to adjust work boundaries, and promote stronger linkages between work-life flexibility and work performance. Perlow (2012) conducted a PTO experiment, where members in a consulting firm that had historically had a long-hours culture were given planned time off each week using collaborative time management to reduce overwork. Team members engaged in structured dialogue for 30 minutes at weekly meetings to ensure that work was getting done efficiently (Perlow, 2012). The structured dialogue forced the team to examine group processes and to reconsider how the team was working. These discussions enabled workers to voice their flexibility needs and to be more able to reap the full benefits of work-life flexibility and greater boundary control because they would not be interrupted or expected to work while using flexibility. This also increased workers’ ability to plan for nonwork needs (e.g., dinner and exercising), which would foster positive psychological spillover for renewed work engagement. Members in such cultures are less likely to be burned out when working, as they have had time to recover from previous work (Sonnentag & Fritz, 2015). In contrast, Sexton et al. (2017) found that when physicians chose to work a three-day compressed work week, but were overscheduled in high face-time cultures with no collaborative scheduling for team backup, individual work performance suffered and burnout increased. Thus, team contexts with collaborative scheduling require group members to think about work tasks in the collective. Members cross-train each other and agree to be back-ups to support member substitutability for work tasks. Such cultures foster norms of reciprocity and efficiency, enhancing work performance as clients’ task demands are less likely to build up during absences. Such practices support coworkers backing each other up and foster group problem-solving on work tasks and increased awareness of members’ work-life needs, freeing up people to be able to enact flexibility in ways that support work performance without worrying about stigma, increasing efficiency (Van Dyne et al., 2007).

P6a. Control over the work role boundary enhances performance in the work domain to a greater degree for work groups that have a strong results-oriented work environment than for work groups that have a weak results-oriented work environment.

P6b. Control over the work role boundary enhances performance in the work domain to a greater degree for work groups that have collaborative time management scheduling practices supporting predictable time off than for work groups that do not have collaborative scheduling practices supporting predictable time off.

Part III: Enriching the Model with Considerations for Future Research from a Work-life Intersectionality Lens

As noted in Part I of the paper and summarized in Table 1, attention to intersectionality in a work-life context illuminates how traditionally assumed work-family relationships may need to be revisited to address the dynamics of employees’ diverse flexibility implementation experiences and outcomes. For example, work-life intersectionality may alter one’s needs and preferences for work-life flexibility as well as access to work-life flexibility resources and benefits from use. An intersectional lens also suggests a need to consider how individuals’ experiences with flexibility policies occur in an embedded context that is shaped by existing societal structures and power dynamics relevant to the work–nonwork interface. To illustrate these arguments, below we re-examine our model in Fig. 2 by adding in six intersectional considerations which provide new research directions to broaden work-life flexibility research to better fit with an increasingly diverse workforce and society. Recall that in Section 1, we defined work-life intersectionality as having multiple intersecting identities (e.g., gender, caregiving, and race), that are stigmatized and linked to having less access to and/or benefits from resources to support managing the work-life interface in a social context. It pertains to the ways in which multiple categories of social identities (e.g., race, gender, class, religion, sexuality, ability, and nationality) are influenced by a historical and social context that shapes power relation, which we assume create interactive effects on work-life flexibility.

Fig. 2. Work-Life Flexibility Policies: Moving toward Work-Life Intersectionality Considerations.

Fig. 2.

Work-Life Flexibility Policies: Moving toward Work-Life Intersectionality Considerations.

Work-Life Flexibility Initiation: Invoking Policy Use and Access to Work-Life Flexibility

Intersectional Consideration #1

Compared to other employee groups, access to work-life flexibility is often more limited for employees with higher work-life intersectionality, as their “choices” are often constrained by their demands, resources and job and family contexts. While the traditional work–nonwork theoretical lens underlying our model is more focused on policy use and its outcomes, when we moved to consider a work-life intersectionality lens we noticed that members of some social groups (e.g., according to age, race, or gender) lack equal access to flexibility, often coinciding with their membership in specific occupations, and this disparity is largely overlooked in research. As Alderfer (1983) maintains, job groups systematically overlap with demographic groups creating under and over representation, or what is often called occupational segregation. This segregation is often linked in organizations to hierarchy and power structures that limit or enhance access to work-life flexibility. For example, women and minorities with children are often overly represented in lower-level jobs in service work (e.g., housekeeping, food service, and nursing) or in manufacturing such as food manufacturing (Kossek & Lee, 2020), where they have less access to request flexible scheduling compared to men. Research has also shown that lower-wage workers and those without high-school education are less likely to have access to some types of work-life flexibility policies such as flextime (Miller, 1992), and that concentration in such less-desirable jobs is persistent for these relatively disadvantaged workers (Blau et al., 2013).

Further, the effects of occupational segregation often intensify for those with multiple stigmatized identities; for example, analysis of gender- and race-based occupational segregation shows that while Latino men are the most segregated within the US economy, Latina women are the most concentrated in low-wage work (Alonso-Villar et al., 2012) where access to work-life flexibility is limited. Thus, occupational segregation related to social structures that push people into various jobs may affect access to varying types of flexibility that may be systematically linked to work-life intersectionality and warrants further study.

Granted some prior research has addressed variation in individual preferences for work-life flexibility. For example, research has shown that differences exist across an array of dimensions in terms of who desires to work flexibly. Reviews of survey evidence show, for example, that preferences for flexibility in general and for specific types of work-life flexibility policies vary by gender, life-stage, parenting-stage, occupation, and country (Thornthwaite, 2004). Yet most of this literature overlooks how preferences and needs occur not in a vacuum, but in a social context and power structure where some workers are more likely to be advantaged in their access to flexibility by virtue of their jobs. For example, workers in entry-level retail jobs may express no desire for reduced load or part-time work but this may be because their work hours are already notably low and unstable, creating strains, particularly for parents unable to arrange or afford childcare (Henly & Lambert, 2014). Thus, the literature often overlooks how choices may be more limited for some job groups, frequently making this discussion decontextualized.

We should note that preferences also reflect differences in the policy environment of the country (e.g., the existence of public childcare, and the right to request a flexible schedule) (cf. Kossek & Kelliher, 2022) as well as organizational features (e.g., managerial support for work-life) and individual/home experiences and demands (e.g., partner work hours) (Thornthwaite, 2004). Moreover, preferences are distinct from intent to use policies, as workers may prefer to work part-time or to take a parental leave, for example, but not feel free to do so due to fears of backlash from use such as lower pay and job loss (Kossek & Lautsch, 2018; Perrigino et al., 2018) or a simple lack of availability based on traditional employment policies that exclude some job groups. Thus, any discussion of access, preferences, and work-life intersectionality also opens the need to examine more deeply a disconnect between the different types of flexibility that are being offered by organizations and the preferences of all types of workers. For example, in one study of unionized employees working mothers who were in social work and service jobs desired part-time work, but the union which had more male members did not support part-time work as an option for these working mothers to access (Kossek et al., 2014).

Another gap in the mainstream management flexibility literature relates to i-deals, or idiosyncratic flexibility deals (e.g., Hornung et al., 2009), defined as negotiated, individualized customized flexible work schedules. Such research tends to focus on privileged highly paid workers with market power who are also likely to have extra family resources (e.g., a stay-at-home spouse) and financial resources for caregiving (Kossek & Kelliher, 2022). These studies also assume considerable worker latitude to have a choice over flexibility and again show a decontextualized and individualistic approach to work-life flexibility preferences and access (e.g., Hornung et al., 2009).

Organizational Implementation

Intersectionality Consideration #2

The needs of individuals with higher work-life intersectionality- are more likely to be overlooked even in inclusive organizations with high work-life cultural support and customizability of flexibility policies. As noted in P2 in Fig. 1 in the traditional model, we argue that the use of work-life flexibility policies will be more likely to increase boundary control when implemented in an organizational context with cultural support for flexibility and nonwork roles, and with policies that are customizable to meet individual needs. While these aspects of organizational implementation benefit all workers, they may not be sufficient to be fully inclusive of individuals with higher work-life intersectionality.

For example, despite the widespread increase in support for flexible work during the pandemic, research in Canada and the UK. has shown workers with disabilities felt less supported by organizations during the pandemic than their colleagues with no disability (Gignac et al., 2021; Peters et al., 2022). Similarly, a national study of women in STEM found that male professors experienced far fewer boundary disruptions and loss of boundary control than their women in STEM counterparts as they were far less likely to have to manage child and older adult care, or had far less responsibility for domestic labor (cooking, cleaning), with the widespread move to remote work (Kossek et al., 2021). This situation revealed that women professors’ joint gender and mother identities were more likely to be stigmatized as it made visible the fact that they were less than “ideal workers” for being focused on caregiving identity during the day. For example, many female faculty perceived they were not socially, supported by their work colleagues if they had to have their children being on camera while in a conference call, which made visible their multi-tasking work and care, engaging in nonwork interruptions and less physical and psychological availability for work. In contrast, male faculty often had far greater access to have a spouse with primary or sole responsibility for managing child care, which helped to keep their gender and parent joint status largely invisible and less likely stigmatized while teleworking. Thus, work-life flexibility experiences are assumed to be related to the extent of one’s work-life intersectionality, defined as when an individual has not just the mere combination of two or more identities, but these identities are stigmatized and linked to less access to and benefits from resources to support managing the work-life interface.

An intersectional lens raises the issue that organizations can sometimes have high support for flexibility but individuals with higher work-life intersectionality may still not experience the environment as inclusive. Shore et al. (2011) define inclusion as the degree to which an individual perceives they are a valued member of their workplace through treatment that simultaneously supports their belongingness and uniqueness. Regarding work-life flexibility, some companies have implemented policies in ways that even if providing high levels of cultural support may not be very inclusive of marginalized groups particularly pertaining to those with members having higher work-life intersectionality (e.g., single-parent women of color or low-income immigrant mothers who are often stigmatized and have less access to and benefits from resources for managing the work-life interface). For example, mothers who do not have access to paid family leave in the U.S. may be unable to afford to take leave unless they are in a traditional two-parent family.

Besides often overlooking intersectional family structures that may shape the usability of work-life flexibility policies, some companies also exclude access based on gender, hierarchy and job level, flexibility type and comprehensiveness across job groups and regions, local leader preferences, norms, institutional, and societal contexts. We give an example of each of these forms of exclusion that can occur even in firms that overall look strong on general work-life flexibility support. For example, some organizations take a gendered approach to caregiving policy use and culturally limit access and use to certain workers such as only allowing mothers with young children or daughters with a sick parent to work part-time, without offering similar options to fathers or sons. Hierarchical work-life exclusion as noted also affects the usability of policies that may formally be on the books at the organizational level but not available at the job group level within the firm. For example, a company may only allow managers to telework but not clerical workers, even though both types of workers could do some of their tasks at home and the policy is listed as available at the firm level on national surveys. Thus, organizations that recognize and adapt to work-life intersectionality have higher usability and inclusiveness of flexibility policies across many demographic, functional, and hierarchical job groups (Ryan & Kossek, 2008).

We have noted that the many types of flexibility from part-time work to permeability and the ability to disconnect are important for supporting a diversity of work-life needs. Thus, an organizational approach to work-life flexibility implementation that would support intersectionality also tends to be comprehensive. For example, a firm would not only invest in telework but also all forms of flexibility we discussed from control over work size, to time off, and scheduling. Such a firm that strongly supports work-life intersectionality would be characterized by having a full range of flexible options available to many different types of jobs, workers, and geographies and suited to many work-life flexibility needs, that is, every job or person would be able to use some meaningful form of work-life flexibility. Although factory workers may not have jobs conducive to telework, they may request flextime or part-time work or have the right to bring a personal cell phone on the floor. Or while employees without children cannot take paid maternity or paternity leave, they might be able to take paid dependent care leave to care for their parents or a disabled sibling.

Implementing policies in ways that support work-life intersectionality is likely to enhance the positive effects of policy use on control because cultural acceptance of flexibility is likely to be higher in firms where many people can work flexibly throughout the firm. Since working flexibly is seen as socially normative, use of flexibility will not be seen as socially deviant, or limited to sometimes marginalized groups such as working mothers, or stigmatized “nonideal workers” who do not engage in overworking as a way to advance in career (Williams et al., 2013). Firms that more highly support work-life intersectionality are more likely to have learned how to implement flexibility more effectively. For example, such firms might have a higher investment in cross-training or staff an extra worker for improved backup, enabling users to experience and exercise greater control.

Control and Work and Nonwork Performance

Intersectionality Consideration #3

The relationship between experiences of control and linkages to work and nonwork performance will differ for individuals with higher work- life intersectionality. There are several reasons why higher work-life intersectionality might alter the relationships described in P3 and P5 suggested above in Fig. 1 between work-life flexibility policy use, control, and positive outcomes. Individuals who have multiple stigmatized identities, when enacting in combination may also be associated with more demands, and less access to resources and less power to navigate social contexts, which may mean that individuals who use work-life flexibility policies may experience lower control and benefits from use for several reasons. Having multiple stigmatized identities can exacerbate unfair treatment from others (Remedios & Snyder, 2018), which may result in attenuating benefits from work-life flexibility policy use. For example, in a work-life flexibility policy context, supervisors’ attributions (Leslie et al., 2012) and face-time expectations (Barsness et al., 2005) could lead to differential treatment across policy users. Consider a single man who utilizes a work from home flexibility arrangement for caregiving reasons as opposed to overworking late at night. Based on precarious manhood theory, the decision might be regarded unfavorably because it is viewed as “weak” and a violation of masculine gender norms (Rudman & Mescher, 2013), particularly if the policy is viewed as more intended for women (Kirby & Krone, 2002). Yet based on singlism – which identifies a stigma associated with the status of being single or unmarried (DePaulo & Morris, 2005) – the decision might be regarded unfavorably if there is a sentiment that the policy is intended for individuals with family responsibilities (Aryee et al., 2013). Although these interpretations more accurately reflect misattributions based on a limited understanding of the underlying intentions and breadth of work-life flexibility policies, individuals with multiple stigmatized identities might be more likely to experience backlash-related effects involving reduced career outcomes, such as lower pay, different attributions for use (Leslie et al., 2012) and more negative performance appraisals compared to individuals with only one or no stigmatized identity (Perrigino et al., 2018).

Further, individuals with high work-life intersectionality are likely to have an underlying lack of personal resources or additional demands that undermine the link between work-life flexibility policy use, control, and positive outcomes. Beyond concerns that work-life balance rhetoric neglects vulnerable workers – including low-wage women of color (Kolhatkar, 2021) – various aspects of intersectionality involving the unique cultural, community, and religious considerations create additional demands and resource drain not considered or addressed in work-life flexibility policies (Kamenou, 2008). It is plausible that the connection between policy use and positive outcomes will only hold for traditionally studied samples (Casper et al., 2007) and disempower those with multiple stigmatized identities (Ravenswood & Harris, 2016) – unless inclusivity is embedded within work-life flexibility policy implementation for different employees – some higher and some lower on work-life intersectionality.

In addition, the expectations and actions of supervisors on how flexibility is to be used and differentially supported may have adverse impact on individuals with higher work-life intersectionality characteristics. For example, it has been documented that people who participate in remote meetings in which cameras and microphones are expected to be on such that children and others in the background can be seen and heard experience increased “zoom fatigue” (Shockley et al., 2021). In some of these front-facing meetings, it is possible that to appear more diverse, the burden of being visible – if not physically present – falls more on women and people of color, who may have more concealing to do, resulting in trade-offs and process loss to the work tasks (Kossek et al., 2021). Further, individuals with higher work-life intersectionality may receive less protection if they use policies. Low-status employees are also less likely to have access to those in power who can advocate for their use of flexible policies (Briscoe & Kellogg, 2011).

Moreover, differences in access to family resources may moderate the benefits of using different flexibility forms for some employees who are members of multiple stigmatized social groups. Consider a single Latina mother who works as an administrative assistant living in a small house with spotty internet. She may not have the space to work in a quiet home office, and her smaller home may make it difficult for her to derive the full benefits of using a remote work option. Further, women of color who telework are more likely to be the head of their household and may be less likely to have a spouse who is staying at home to watch the children while working. As a result, despite the use of a flexibility policy, they may engage in more multi-tasking and be less productive due to lower boundary control at their work location. They also are more likely to have nonwork responsibilities not only for their children but other adult members of their families and with extended members of their community as well (Pew Research Center, 2022). Therefore, even though they are teleworking they may need to juggle these additional family demands while working from home, unlike some with lower demands. Many of these work-life intersectionality-related differences that attenuate the likely control and performance benefits from flexibility can be attributed to culture such as the disproportionate reality of people of color living in multi-generational households (Pew Research Center, 2022), which may complicate the attractiveness of using of some flexibility policies to enable control over work location (e.g., telework and flexplace). For example, women of color may be more reluctant to work from home if there is less space in the home to work separately from others, even though this living arrangement may have other benefits, such as childcare savings if there are grandparents in the home who can watch their grandchildren.

However, on the positive side, more study is also needed to consider the possible increased usefulness of flexibility policies for those with higher intersectional work-life needs. For example, the recently expanded access to flexibility policies can be a double-edged sword for women (Villamor et al., 2022) particularly regarding remote work as the decreased emphasis on physical presence with remote work has allowed increased efficiency for workers of color and other stigmatized employees who may no longer feel the need to conceal their nonwork roles or other salient identities to appear as part of their team (Kossek et al., 2021). This process loss from constant code-switching may be reduced in an environment where workers do not feel as though they are constantly under the threat of being judged and working to fend off such stereotypes (Block et al., 2011). Future research should consider the ways in which work-life intersectionality may attenuate and strengthen the positive relationship between work-life flexibility policy use, control, and positive outcomes.

Individual Implementation

Intersectionality Consideration #4

Work-life intersectionality necessitates the management of multiple nonwork identities which can compete for or shift in salience and extent of stigmatization. While the traditional work–nonwork model of work-life flexibility does contemplate how the implementation of flexibility may be impacted by the salience of nonwork identities, it has not extended to consideration of multiple intersectional identities. One area ripe for future development concerns the agency of individuals and the potential strengths of intersectional identities. Identities are in flux, and aspects of one’s identities may be more salient or influential depending on both the identity work of the individual and the context (Corlett & Mavin, 2014). Intersectional identities, while generally stigmatized, may be less so in certain contexts, as in the work of Czarniawska and Sevon (2008) showing that foreign women professors are not doubly disadvantaged but instead enjoy greater success. Further, recent scholarship within Indigenous traditions has noted the need to avoid a deficit model in which holding an Indigenous identity is associated exclusively with limitations and stigma, overlooking the rich cultural resources also associated (Bryant et al., 2021).

As an example, since women of color are neither perceived as the prototypical woman nor the prototypical male member of their subordinated race, they may escape some of the parenting stigma that white women face due to intersectional invisibility (Purdie-Vaughns & Eibach, 2008). Just as some Black women can be agentic and not suffer the double-bind backlash for not following proscriptive stereotypes for women to be caring (Rosette & Livingston, 2012; Rudman et al., 2001), it is possible that Black women are able to bring their whole selves to their roles without incurring similar backlash. However, it could be the case that enacting flexible work-life policies is what renders those with multiple marginalized identities who would otherwise be invisible, visible (Lyons et al., 2018). For example, while white men have intersecting privileged identities of gender and race, some may have less visible stigmatized identities such as being gay or disabled that may become more salient if work-life flexibility is sought on account of their sexual orientation or disability status, such as requesting part-time or remote work after adopting a baby or to manage an illness. And across national cultures, such a request may be less stigmatized in some nations (e.g., the UK) where the right to request flexibility is supported through national legislation as an employment right (Kossek & Kelliher, 2022).

The MOSAIC model (Hall et al., 2019) provides a framework that allows for the consideration of how multiple marginalized nonwork identities can shift in salience. While Black women, for instance, deal with a variety of positive and negative stereotypes, seeking flexible work-life policies may invoke other stereotypes that may highlight their nonwork identity, such as being a single parent (Kennely, 1999), which can be accompanied by new stereotypes to fend off (Block et al., 2011). As reflected in the MOSAIC model, varied caregiving needs of one’s layered identities may result in anticipated needs for flexibility such as needing to work a reduced load or remotely via flextime and flexplace, whereas sudden needs for flexibility that may make one’s multiple identities more salient may be more difficult to navigate. In the case of Black women, contending against stereotypes (Merriweather & Block, 2016) related to their intersecting identities of being both a woman and expected to be more family-focused in addition to being Black with the proscriptive expectations to work more (Hall et al., 2019) can affect one’s willingness to utilize flexibility policies. Additionally, employees who have multiple, marginalized identities may fear being further stigmatized due to having higher intersecting salient nonwork identities and incurring backlash, which can affect team processes as they may try to use flexibility (e.g., flexible scheduling and remote work) in ways that help them keep these identities less visible. All these factors contribute to the work-life inequality that affects those with intersecting identities differently than what has been traditionally discussed in the literature.

Further, having the potential of more nonwork identities to manage, which increases the capacity through which shifting can occur, can affect the implementation processes of efficiency, reciprocity, and availability. As stated previously regarding efficiency, code-switching can lead to process loss that can be attenuated if flexibility is enacted in such a way to minimize the trading off between multiple nonwork identities and one’s work identity. Kossek et al. (2022) have found that under-represented individuals appreciate when their departments offer diversity, equity, and inclusion training because this training aligns with their values, leading workers to reciprocate with positive attitudes such as higher satisfaction and commitment. Similar reciprocity dynamics could exist for those with multiple nonwork identities who are able to shift the salience of such identities and who could benefit more from work-life flexibility policies. Regarding availability, individuals with multiple stigmatized identities may have more nonwork constraints and expanded views of their desire to invest in their nonwork role which affects their work visibility and availability. While shifting the competing salience of one’s multiple nonwork identities could lead to decreased availability for the work role, it could also lead to increased availability for multiple nonwork roles and thereby improved nonwork performance.

Workgroup Implementation

Intersectionality Consideration #5

The work-life intersectionality of members might create invisible, deep-level diversity within workgroups that impedes control-related benefits.

As discussed above, the traditional model on work-life flexibility acknowledges that not all workgroups and teams are supportive of flexibility and identifies two key practices that enhance flexibility outcomes: ROWE and collaborative time management. These practices change the workgroup culture in ways that enhance norms of reciprocity, efficiency, and availability to team members as well as the importance of completing high-value tasks. Whether and how these dynamics might differ for individuals with multiple stigmatized identities is yet unknown.

There has, however, been an extensive related literature examining the effects of diversity in teams, which has actively debated whether heterogeneity within teams is beneficial or harmful, at least in terms of group performance (Horwitz & Horwitz, 2007). Within this literature, it is common to distinguish two types of diversity on teams: (1) visible or “surface-level” diversity, typically linked to bio-demographic characteristics such as race, age, or gender and (2) task-related or cognitive diversity related to experience and skills to perform the work (Harrison et al., 1998; Pelled, 1996). Reviews have concluded that only the latter task-related diversity enhances performance, with no effect for bio-demographic diversity (Horwitz & Horwitz, 2007).

An acknowledged limitation of these conclusions is that they are grounded in only few studies of bio-demographic diversity (Horwitz & Horwitz, 2007). Further, the distinction between visible-sociodemographic and task-related diversity overlooks the experience of many with stigmatized but invisible differences such as members of the LGBTQ+ community. Bowen and Blackmon (2003) have shown that individuals with “invisible” sources of diversity including sexual orientation may exist within “spirals of silence” (p. 1393) in which they avoid disclosing their personal circumstances due to the risk that colleagues will not support them, leading them to also avoid exercising voice in the workplace in general. The hesitation to disrupt the dominant discourse of the workplace on the part of these individuals is driven by perceptions of lower power and greater risk and thus is likely an experience shared by those with multiple stigmatized identities (some of which may be visible, as well). The results-focused work environment and collaborative time management practices envisioned as enhancing work-life flexibility implementation are premised on open communication within the workgroup. Instead, an intersectional lens shows that not all individuals may be empowered to equal participation in those collaborative processes. On the one hand, this may lead individuals with stigmatized identities to avoid disclosing nonwork needs, increasing their availability to colleagues and work performance at the expense of nonwork outcomes. On the other hand, without the ability to express their true needs, these same individuals may not utilize the control offered by their work-life flexibility policy to work at their most efficient times and places.

Work-Life Intersectionality and Nonwork Performance

Intersectionality Consideration #6

Nonwork role performance may include an expanded set of outcomes and expectations for individuals with stigmatized work-life identities. Here we focus on nonwork performance, highlighting how the nature of nonwork performance may require revisiting an intersectional approach. Consideration of nonwork outcomes is equally relevant for both the traditional and intersectional approaches given that both inherently recognize employees’ role responsibilities and lives outside of the workplace. We believe that consideration of intersectionality from an identity standpoint opens up more nonwork identities and variation in nonwork resources and demands and – because we are thinking about identities more broadly – we may need to think about more experiences, impacts, and types of outcomes. For example, the pathways within our model should yield a positive impact on family engagement – which refers to attention paid to family members and absorption in family activities (Rothbard, 2001) – for both traditionally studied samples and those with stigmatized identities. Relatedly, boundary control afforded through work-life flexibility policies should benefit a variety of nonwork outcomes associated with participation in community, school, and leisure activities regardless of whether intersectionality is a prevalent theme or consideration (Keeney et al., 2013). Yet while these expanded nonwork outcomes are receiving increased attention (e.g., work-school conflict; Park & Sprung, 2015), integrating intersectionality considerations sheds light on the depth to and nuance with which they can be addressed. We provide three examples below.

First, boundary control afforded through work-life flexibility policies can facilitate othermothering, defined as “acceptance of responsibility for a child not one’s own, in an arrangement that may or may not be formal” (Edwards, 2000, p. 88). Stemming from communal lifestyles in West Africa and exacerbated through the familial instabilities caused by enslavement in the United States and beyond (where Black women would take on caregiving responsibilities for children whose parents had been sold to other slaveowners; James, 1993), the fulfillment of duties associated with the modern day practice of taking on the role of a “community mother” to care for others’ children is a unique nonwork performance outcome that may be particularly specific to Black women and can be facilitated through work-life flexibility policy use.

Second, boundary control afforded through work-life flexibility policies can facilitate community activism. Intersectional activism efforts aimed at promoting social justice preceded academic research on the topic (Moradi & Grzanka, 2017). Nonetheless, many grassroots efforts – including the #SayHerName social movement – remain prevalent today (Brown et al., 2017; Heaney, 2021). Although research on allyship recognizes the participation of “advantaged” individuals, individuals with intersectional stigmatized identities may be more likely to play a larger, central, or more active role in such efforts (Dahling, et al., 2016; Radke et al., 2020). Work-life flexibility policies that afford spatial and temporal control can enhance the degree to which individuals engage in community activism by allowing for greater participation in activities including voting, petition signing, civil disobedience, protesting, and attending meetings (Swank & Fahs, 2013).

Third, boundary control afforded through work-life flexibility policies can facilitate educational attainment while working. On the one hand, those with intersectional identities in pursuit of higher education may demonstrate more of a “hustle” compared to traditionally studied samples in work-life research, including their use of part-time work (perhaps facilitated by size control) in blue collar occupations to pay their way through school compared to white collar workers afforded more temporal and spatial control whose organizations sponsor their MBA degree (Reed & Brown, 2013). On the other hand, individuals’ previous experiences of stigmatization associated with their intersectional identities might diminish self-efficacy when pursuing higher education while working or might serve to deter this pursuit altogether (Corsi et al., 2021; Mirza, 2018; Mkhize & Pillay, 2018). Regardless of which perspective is more applicable to a specific individual with an intersectional identity, the use of work-life flexibility policies should reduce work-school conflict while the organizational support embedded in the ability to use the policy can further enhance their self-efficacy.


We drew on Kossek et al.’s (2022) boundary control and implementation framework on work-life flexibility policies which established that different types of control and implementation domains are important for shaping the relationships between policies and outcomes. In this paper, we extended those ideas to (1) specify the mechanisms (availability, reciprocity, efficiency) and moderators (e.g., organizational, group, and individual) to work and nonwork performance; and (2) explore individual employee intersectionality considerations related to flexibility access, use and consequences. In the first part we examined mechanisms and moderators shaping the relationship between boundary control, use, and performance using a traditional variable-centered approach. Then we reviewed the model in the intersectionality section of this paper to extend this work by drawing attention to which types of people are more likely to access, differentially use, and likely benefit from different types of control. That is, whether individuals get to use flexibility policies, how they experience them, and the outcomes they achieve may depend in part on who they are in terms of the extent of their overlapping work-life identities.

Contributions to the Work-Life Literature

First, our model advances understanding because it makes transparent the mechanisms by which work-life flexibility policy use affects work and nonwork performance. Boundary control enhances performance at home through its effects on availability for nonwork demands and at work through its impacts on efficiency, reciprocity, and availability for the work role. This perspective opens new research avenues distinguishing the use of specific policies and the amount of control over different dimensions of the work role boundary. We contribute to the development of theory by suggesting that scholars identify the consequences of boundary control via availability, efficiency, and reciprocity on performance in multiple domains. We also added to the literature by considering how reciprocity, efficiency, and availability can operate differently depending on organizational, team, and individual moderators that are related to the synthesis of multiple work-life identities and roles through intersectionality.

Second and most importantly, given that the diversity and work-life literatures are under-integrated, we noted that an intersectional view can extend current flexibility research by advancing perspectives to question whether and the extent to which work-life flexibility enhances boundary control and for whom. An intersectional lens suggests a need to consider how individuals’ experiences with work-life flexibility policies occur reflected in a broader cultural and historical context. We hope this paper encourages future work to not only use variable-centered approaches to understand work-life flexibility but also with the integration of identity and intersectionality we propose to move toward more person-centered approaches. This paper suggests scholars need to increasingly pay attention to which types of people are using and likely benefiting from different types of control afforded by various work-life flexibility policies. This leads us to suggest the need for future research to incorporate intersectional views that look at clustered relationships between multiple forms of work-life diversity to augment the traditional work-life literature and provide a re-conceptualization of work-life flexibility policies as practices enhancing work role boundary control to support work-life inclusion. Although work-life flexibility policies offer opportunities to increase employee control over the work role boundary to enhance nonwork and work performance, we surmised that this assumption may need to be empirically examined with more diverse samples that include many intersectional analyses. The theoretical underdevelopment of the work-life flexibility literature regarding intersectionality remains problematic since intersectionality may be an indicator of reduced access to flexibility policies and attenuated benefits of control for performance for some employee groups, particularly those with many identities that may lead to their marginalization in society such as gender, class, religion, and race among many others.

Future work-life flexibility policy research needs to integrate variable and person-centered approaches. We call for research to incorporate the concept of work-life intersectionality into future theorizing. Adding an intersectional lens may advance work-life flexibility research theoretically by considering how multiple forms of identity such as race, gender, sexuality, and nonwork identities and demands intersect to enhance or attenuate assumed work-life relationships related to conflict and enrichment due to differential resource access, power dynamics, and differential work-life demands and needs and benefits of use. For example, an intersectional lens may help explain why the pandemic and ways that employers managed flexibility access and use for different jobs differentially affected many employees with multiple stigmatized identities such as women of color in front-line jobs such as nurses and teachers.

Future research should also consider how work-life intersectionality impacts the shifting of salience between work and nonwork identities and empirically explore the MOSAIC framework (Hall et al., 2019) as applied to work-life flexibility. This model of stereotype activation through intersectional and associated categories could demonstrate how individuals among the spectrum of work-life intersectionality may have varied work and nonwork outcomes. Considering how intersectional categories can be activated and made visible through the enactment of flexibility policies would illuminate how such structures are embedded into organizational life. It is possible that different nonwork identities are made salient in different combinations based on the use of various flexible work-life policies. Future research could explore which work and nonwork identities may significantly intersect with which combination of policies that could result in differing work and nonwork outcomes. For instance, an Asian-American woman may benefit from intersectional invisibility (Purdie-Vaughns & Eibach, 2008) for neither being the prototypical woman on account of her race and ethnicity nor the prototypical Asian-American on account of her gender. However, if she were to utilize a flexibility policy, such as remote work, that would enable her to better care for an aging parent, this may highlight her ethnicity and the widely held societal belief of the Asian community and respect for older persons. While this is not a negative stereotype per se, it could have practical implications for flexibility policy use that should be considered from a Human Resources perspective.

In practice, organizations can think proactively about how the availability of work-life flexibility policies have differing implications for those with varied work-life intersectionality. Just as it is essential that organizations consider how flexible work-life policies cluster to create optimum work–nonwork management (Kossek et al., 2022), so too is it necessary that Human Resources professionals consider the various cluster of demographics within their organizations and how the latter impact the former and vice versa. Third, we advance theorizing by suggesting that scholars should assume that work-life flexibility typically has mixed consequences for performance in multiple domains that may not be aligned unless one holistically understands supportive organizational, group, and individual (including intersectionality related) implementation conditions. Previous reviews suggest that flexibility often has varied results for employees and employers (Allen et al., 2013; de Menezes & Kelliher, 2011; Kossek & Lautsch, 2018). Yet work-life research typically focuses either on performance in one domain but not the other or alternatively assumes a “dual agenda” (Bailyn, 2011) of beneficial effects of work-life flexibility for both employees and employers without investigating moderators that may condition these effects. Our model comprehensively specifies the conditions under which flexibility promotes performance and demonstrates how it can have differential consequences for work and nonwork outcomes. Work-life flexibility and control over the work role boundary is likely to enhance nonwork performance, but it may negatively affect work performance at the same time, if implemented poorly by the organization in ways that do not foster customization, inclusion, or cultural support. Or flexibility may be enacted by individuals with too many interruptions of the work role; or conversely employees may not use their flexibility to become more available for nonwork roles, but instead overwork. And groups may enable or constrain employees who have work-life flexibility from performing well at work if they adopt a heavy face-time-oriented culture and do not support collaborative scheduling or PTO or respect many forms of work-life diversity.

For the dual agenda of joint work and nonwork gains through work-life flexibility initiatives to be realized would require attention to implementation across levels as well as to intersectional considerations. The starting point would be equalized access to an expansive and customizable set of flexibility practices, implemented with cultural support within organizations to limit backlash and enhance inclusivity. Although the work-life literature understands the importance of cultural support and informal customizability (e.g., i-deals), greater consideration of formalized customizability within the HR system – as well as the strength of the HR system itself – is required. As workgroups transition to work-life flexibility, they must enact supportive practices such as a ROWE and collaborative time management, in a manner that is respectful and adaptive to power dynamics that may inhibit some group members from full participation in the open discussions these practices require. Future research and practice should consider, for example, the distinct approaches that might best work to include individuals with both visible and invisible sources of stigma in flexible work coordination. Individuals and nonwork partners similarly have roles in work-life flexibility implementation as both the salience of work and nonwork identities, and unique demands and resources of the nonwork setting shape multi-domain outcomes.

Finally, adding an intersectional lens suggests a need to broaden examination of nonwork performance in management research. People experience diversity in their home circumstances, and in the communities in which they live outside of work, which can create unique priorities in terms of nonwork outcomes. The management literature has sorely under-emphasized the importance of well-being and performance in the nonwork domain despite its criticality for most employees who increasingly vary in nonwork resources and demands. Thus, human resource studies should include not just work measures of performance and effectiveness but measures of nonwork performance and effectiveness as a basic practice.

Adding an intersectional lens also suggests that research needs to follow individuals and organizations as they adapt to changing nonwork (as one ages and undergoes work-life changes) and work environments (e.g., a pandemic); work-life flexibility should be understood as an evolving process occurring over time. For example, (1) organizations can change how they implement policies to be more work-life inclusive to support work-life intersectionality. For example, they might conduct studies to ensure access to and use of policies is effective for employees across many work-life backgrounds; or (2) work groups can change work cultures, and team scheduling and time off practices to be more respectful of many overlapping intersectional work-life identities; This would entail giving all employees some say in how work-life flexibility is implemented to provide equal access and benefits. And importantly (3) individuals can shift the salience that they attach to particular identities over the life course, and how they intersect which can alter how they enact work-life flexibility in a particular societal institutional context. For example, a single employee who generally liked to work in the office may seek to now move to remote work when they get married and have a new child, and their spouse has an immigrant family that lives overseas resulting in increased older adult care and family commitments during different hours of the day. Collectively, these areas provide a rich integration of critical conditions that matter for understanding linkages between work-life flexibility and performance at work and home.

In sum, future research must be conducted to identify the aggregate employer conditions (organization, team, individual) under which work-life flexibility can enhance performance in both domains, consistent with a dual agenda perspective. Experiments in the lab and the field should be done to understand the multilevel conditions that identify what it would it take for flexibility to promote performance in both domains concurrently. Such studies would also need to attend to implementation in the home and societal domains which are often under-examined in human resource and management studies. Lastly, policy-capturing studies should be conducted that involve partnering with innovative employers who are implementing such practices, perhaps ahead of research science to capture innovative and creative solutions occurring in workplaces. Similarly, intervention studies to identify the barriers to transferring best practices in implementing flexibility and in fostering widespread dissemination of HRM best practices are sorely needed for future study.


The effective implementation of work-life flexibility policies in ways that benefit performance for an increasingly diverse workforce in a transformed workplace that is increasingly crossing diverse boundaries at work and home is not well-understood. To advance understanding, we developed theory conceptualizing work-life flexibility policy use as sources of work role boundary control and identify multilevel moderators of the conditions under which using policies enhances control over the work role and performance on and off the job. Many employers have moved away from providing job security and lengthy careers in an increasingly turbulent economic world often undergoing massive disruptions in work organization. Societal safety nets for family support are also devolving in many countries. Work-life flexibility balances these pressures serving as a social vehicle arbitrating employees’ needs to have greater control over their personal and family lives, and employers’ interests in controlling how, when, and where work roles are enacted in a 24/7 world. Our integrative theory fosters new insights to broaden research to examine the dynamics of accessing and using flexibility policies and their linkages to employees’ control over the work boundary and their work-life intersectionality in order to better close the work-life flexibility implementation gap.


Kossek and Lautsch contributed equally to this manuscript in different ways and share first authorship.


Acker, 2006Acker, J. (2006). Inequality regimes: Gender, class and race in organizations. Gender & Society, 20, 441464.

Adler, & Kwon 2002Adler, P., & Kwon, S., (2002). Social capital prospects for a new concept. The Academy of Management Review, 27, 1740.

Alderfer, 1983Alderfer, C. (1983). An intergroup perspective on group dynamics. In J. Lorsch (Ed.), Handbook of organizational behavior (pp. 190222). Prentice Hall.

Allen, Johnson, Kiburz, & Shockley, 2013Allen, T., Johnson, R., Kiburz, K. M., & Shockley, K. (2013). Work–family conflict and flexible work arrangements: Deconstructing flexibility. Personnel Psychology, 66, 345376.

Alonso-Villar, Del Rio, & Gradin, 2012Alonso-Villar, O., Del Rio, C., & Gradin, C. (2012). The extent of occupational segregation in the United States. Industrial Relations (Berkeley), 51(2), 179212.

Alzahabi, Becker, & Hambrick, 2017Alzahabi, R., Becker, M., & Hambrick, D. (2017). Investigating the relationship between media multitasking and processes involved in task-switching. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 43, 18721894.

Amabile, 1998Amabile, T. M. (1998). How to kill creativity. Harvard Business Review, Sept./Oct., 7787.

Amatea, Cross, Clark, & Bobby, 1986Amatea, E., Cross, E., Clark, J., & Bobby, C. (1986). Assessing the work and family role expectations of career-oriented men and women: The life role salience scales. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 48, 831838.

Aryee, Chu, Kim, & Ryu, 2013Aryee, S., Chu, C. W. L., Kim, T.-Y., & Ryu, S. (2013). Family-supportive work environment and employee work behaviors: An investigation of mediating mechanisms. Journal of Management, 39(3), 792813.

Ashforth, Kreiner, & Fugate, 2000Ashforth, B. E., Kreiner, G. E., & Fugate, M. (2000). All in a day’s work: Boundaries and micro role transitions. Academy of Management Review, 25, 472491.

Atewologun, Sealy, & Vinnicombe, 2016Atewologun, D., Sealy, R., & Vinnicombe, S. (2016). Revealing intersectional dynamics in organizations: Introducing ‘intersectional identity work’. Gender, Work and Organization, 23, 223247.

Baethge, & Rigotti, 2013Baethge, A., & Rigotti, T. (2013). Interruptions to workflow: Their relationship with irritation and satisfaction with performance, and the mediating roles of time pressure and mental demands. Work & Stress, 27, 4363.

Bailyn, 1993Bailyn, L. (1993) Breaking the mold. Basic Books.

Bailyn, 2011Bailyn, L. (2011). Redesigning work for gender equity and work-personal life integration. Community, Work & Family, 14, 97112.

Bailyn, Fletcher, & Kolb, 1997Bailyn, L., Fletcher, J., & Kolb, D. (1997). Unexpected connections: Considering employees’ personal lives can revitalize your business. Sloan Management Review, Summer, 1119.

Bamboo 2022Bamboo HR. (2022).

Barsness, Diekmann, & Seidel 2005Barsness, Z. I., Diekmann, K. A., & Seidel, M.-D. L. (2005). Motivation and opportunity: The role of remote work, demographic dissimilarity, and social network centrality in impression management. Academy of Management Journal, 48(3), 401419.

Beauregard, Adamson, Kunter, Miles, & Roper, 2020Beauregard, T. A., Adamson, M., Kunter, A., Miles, L., & Roper, I. (2020). Diversity in the work–life interface: Introduction to the special issue. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, 39(5), 465478.

Beauregard, & Henry, 2009Beauregard, T. A., & Henry, C. L. (2009). Making the link between work–life balance practices and organizational performance. Human Resource Management Review, 19, 922.

Bergman, & Magnusson, 1997Bergman, L., & Magnusson, D. (1997). A person-oriented approach in research on developmental psychopathology. Development and Psychopathology, 9(2), 291319.

Binyamin, & Carmeli, 2010Binyamin, G., & Carmeli, A. (2010). Does structuring of human resource management processes enhance employee creativity? The mediating role of psychological availability. Human Resource Management, 49, 9991024.

Blair-Loy, & Wharton, 2002Blair-Loy, M., & Wharton, A. (2002). Employees’ use of work-family policies and the workplace social context. Social Forces, 80, 813845.

Blau, Brummund, & Yung-Hsu Liu, 2013Blau, F. D., Brummund, P., & Yung-Hsu Liu, A. (2013). Trends in occupational segregation by gender 1970-2009. Demography, 50(2), 471492.

Block, Koch, Liberman, Merriweather, & Roberson, 2011Block, C. J., Koch, S. M., Liberman, B. E., Merriweather, T. J., & Roberson, L. (2011). Contending with stereotype threat at work: A model of long-term responses. The Counseling Psychologist, 39(4), 570600.

Bowen, & Ostroff, 2004Bowen, D. E., & Ostroff, C. (2004). Understanding HRM–firm performance linkages: The role of the “strength” of the HRM system. Academy of Management Review, 29(2), 203221.

Bowen, & Blackmon, 2003Bowen, F., & Blackmon, K. (2003). Spirals of silence: The dynamic effects of diversity on organizational voice. Journal of Management Studies, 40(6), 13931417.

Brescoll, Glass, & Sedlovskaya, 2013Brescoll, V., Glass, J., & Sedlovskaya, A. (2013). Ask and ye shall receive? The dynamics of employer-provided flexible work options and the need for public policy. Journal of Social Issues, 69, 367388.

Brewer, 1991Brewer, M. B. (1991). The social self: On being the same and different at the same time. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 17(5), 475482.

Briscoe, & Kellogg, 2011Briscoe, F., & Kellogg, K. C. (2011). The initial assignment effect: Local employer practices and positive career outcomes for work-family program users. American Sociological Review, 76(2), 291319.

Brown, Ray, Summers, & Fraistat, 2017Brown, M., Ray, R., Summers, E., & Fraistat, N. (2017). #SayHerName: A case study of intersectional social media activism. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 40(11), 18311846.

Bryant, Bolt, Botfield, Martin, Doyle, Murphy, Graham, Newman, Bell, Treloar, Browne, & Aggleton, 2021Bryant, J., Bolt, R., Botfield, J. R., Martin, K., Doyle, M., Murphy, D., Graham, S., Newman, C. E., Bell, S., Treloar, C., Browne, A. J., & Aggleton, P. (2021). Beyond deficit: ‘Strengths-based approaches’ in Indigenous health research. Sociology of Health & Illness, 43(6), 14051421.

Bundale, 2022Bundale, B. (2022). Remote work debate intensifies as companies mandate return to office after-labour day.

Burrell, Adams, Durand, & Castro 2006Burrell, L. Adams, G., Durand, D., & Castro, C. 2006. The impact of military lifestyle demands on well-being, Army, and family outcomes. Armed Forces & Society, 33, 4358.

Byron, 2005Byron, K. (2005). A meta-analytic review of work–family conflict and its antecedents. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 67(2), 169198.

Capitano, DiRenzo, Aten, & Greenhaus, 2017Capitano, J., DiRenzo, M., Aten, K., & Greenhaus, J. (2017). Role identity salience and boundary permeability preferences: An examination of enactment and protection effects. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 102, 99111.

Capitano, McAlpine, & Greenhaus, 2019Capitano, J., McAlpine, K. L., & Greenhaus, J. H. (2019). Organizational influences on work–home boundary permeability: A multidimensional perspective. In M. R. Buckley, A. R. Wheeler, J. E. Baur, & J. R. B. Halbesleben, J. R. B (Eds.), Research in personnel and human resources management (research in personnel and human resources management) (Vol. 37, pp. 133172). Emerald Publishing Limited.

Carbado, & Harris, 2019Carbado, D. W., & Harris, C. I. (2019). Intersectionality at 30: Mapping the margins of anti-essentialism, intersectionality, and dominance theory. Harvard Law Review, 132(8), 21932239.

Carlson, & Kacmar, 2000Carlson, D., & Kacmar, K. (2000). Work-family conflict in the organization: Do life role values make a difference? Journal of Management, 26, 10311054.

Casper, Eby, Bordeaux, Lockwood, & Lambert, 2007aCasper, W. J., Eby, L. T., Bordeaux, C., Lockwood, A., & Lambert, D. (2007a). A review of research methods in IO/OB work-family research. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92(1), 2843.

Casper, Weltman, & Kwesiga, 2007bCasper, W. J., Weltman, D., & Kwesiga, E. (2007b). Beyond family-friendly: The construct and measurement of singles-friendly work culture. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 70(3), 478501.

Chen, & Karahanna, 2014Chen, A., & Karahanna, E. (2014). Boundaryless technology: Understanding the effects of technology-mediated interruptions across the boundaries between work and personal life. AIS Transactions on Human-Computer Interaction, 6, 1636.

Corlett, & Mavin, 2014Corlett, S., & Mavin, S. (2014). Intersectionality, identity and identity work. Gender in Management, 29(5), 258276.

Corsi, Zacchia, & Zuazu, 2021Corsi, M., Zacchia, G., & Zuazu, I. (2021). Intersectional gaps in self-efficacy among post-graduate students in international renewable-energy programs: The role of maternal employment. Social Sciences, 10(7), 242.

Crain, & Stevens, 2018Crain, T. L., & Stevens, S. C. (2018). Family-supportive supervisor behaviors: A review and recommendations for research and practice. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 39, 869888.

Crenshaw, 1989Crenshaw, K. (1989). Demarginalizing the intersection of race and sex: A black feminist critique of anti-discrimination doctrine, feminist theory and anti-racist politics. University of Chicago Legal Forum, 1989, 139167.

Crenshaw, 1991Crenshaw, K. (1991). Mapping the margins: Intersectionality, identity politics, and violence against women of color. Stanford Law Review, 43(6), 1241.

Czarniawska, & Sevon, 2008Czarniawska, B., & Sevon, G. (2008). The thin edge of the wedge: Foreign women professors as double strangers in academia. Gender, Work and Organization, 15(3), 235287.

Dahling, Wiley, Fishman, & Loihle, 2016Dahling, J. J., Wiley, S., Fishman, Z. A., & Loihle, A. (2016). A stake in the fight: When do heterosexual employees resist organizational policies that deny marriage equality to LGB peers? Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 132, 115.

De Menezes, & Kelliher, 2011De Menezes, L., & Kelliher, C. (2011). Flexible working and performance: A systematic review of the evidence for a business case. International Journal of Management Reviews, 13, 452474.

DePaulo, & Morris, 2005DePaulo, B. M., & Morris, W. L. (2005). Singles in society and in science. Psychological Inquiry, 16(2–3), 5783.

Duxbury, & Halinski, 2014Duxbury, L., & Halinski, M. (2014). When more is less: An examination of the relationship between hours in telework and role overload. Work, 48, 91103.

Eaton, 2003Eaton, S. C. (2003). If you can use them: Flexibility policies, organizational commitment, and perceived performance. Industrial Relations, 42(2), 145167.

Eddleston, & Mulki 2017Eddleston, K. A., & Mulki, J. 2017. Toward understanding remote workers’ management of work–family boundaries: The complexity of workplace embeddedness. Group & Organization Management, 42, 346387.

Edwards, 2000Edwards, A. E. (2000). Community mothering: The relationship between mothering and the community work of Black women. Journal of the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement, 2(2), 87100.

Edwards, & Rothbard, 2000Edwards, J. R., & Rothbard, N. P. (2000). Mechanisms linking work and family: Clarifying the relationship between work and family constructs. Academy of Management Review, 25(1), 178199.

Else-Quest, & Hyde, 2016Else-Quest, N. M., & Hyde, J. S. (2016). Intersectionality in quantitative psychological research: I. Theoretical and epistemological issues. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 40(2), 155170.

Fleming, 2020Fleming, S. (2020). July 8. Working flexibly is now the new normal for employees. Poll.

Gajendran, & Harrison, 2007Gajendran, R. S., & Harrison, D. A. (2007). The good, the bad, and the unknown about telecommuting: Meta-analysis of psychological mediators and individual consequences. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92, 15241541.

Gignac, Shahidi, Jetha, Kristman, Bowring, Cameron, Tonima, & Ibrahim, 2021Gignac, M. A. M., Shahidi, F. V., Jetha, A., Kristman, V., Bowring, J., Cameron, J. I., Tonima, S., & Ibrahim, S. (2021). Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on health, financial worries, and perceived organizational support among people living with disabilities in Canada. Disability Health Journal, 14(4), 101161.

Golden, 2001Golden, L. (2001). Flexible work schedules: What are we trading off to get them? Monthly Labor Review, 124, 5067.

Greenhaus, & Beutell, 1985Greenhaus, J. H., & Beutell, N. J. (1985). Sources of conflict between work and family roles. Academy of Management Review, 10, 7688.

Greenhaus, & Powell, 2006Greenhaus, J. H., & Powell, G. N. (2006). When work and family are allies: A theory of work-family enrichment. The Academy of Management Review, 31(1), 7292.

Greenhaus, Ziegert, & Allen, 2012Greenhaus, J., Ziegert, J., & Allen, T. (2012). When family-supportive supervision matters: Relations between multiple sources of support and work-family balance. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 80, 266275.

Gupta, Li, & Sharda, 2013Gupta, A., Li, H., & Sharda, R. (2013). Should I send this message? Understanding the impact of interruptions, social hierarchy and perceived task complexity on user performance and perceived workload. Decision Support Systems, 55, 135–145.

Hall, Hall, Galinsky, & Phillips, 2019Hall, E. V., Hall, A. V., Galinsky, A. D., & Phillips, K. W. (2019). MOSAIC: A model of stereotyping through associated and intersectional categories. Academy of Management Review, 44(3), 643672.

Hammer, Kossek, Yragui, Bodner, & Hanson, 2009Hammer, L. B., Kossek, E. E., Yragui, N. L., Bodner, T. E., & Hanson, G. C. (2009). Development and validation of a multidimensional measure of family supportive supervisor behaviors (FSSB). Journal of Management, 35(4), 837856.

Hammer, Neal, Newsom, Brockwood, & Colton, 2005Hammer, L. L., Neal, M., Newsom, J. T., Brockwood, K. J., & Colton, C. L. (2005). A longitudinal study of the effects of dual-earner couples’ utilization of family-friendly workplace supports on work and family outcomes. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90, 799810.

Harrison, Price, & Bell, 1998Harrison, D. A., Price, K. H., & Bell, M. P. (1998). Beyond relational demography: Time and the effects of surface and deep-level diversity on work group cohesion. Academy of Management Journal, 41, 96107.

Heaney, 2021Heaney, M. T. (2021). Intersectionality at the grassroots. Politics, Groups, and Identities, 9(3), 608628.

Henly, & Lambert, 2014Henly, J. R., & Lambert, S. (2014). Unpredictable work timing in retail jobs: Implications for employee work-life outcomes. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 67(3), 9861016.

Herrera-Sánchez, León-Pérez, & León-Rubio, 2017Herrera-Sánchez, I. M., León-Pérez, J. M., & León-Rubio, J. M. (2017). Steps to ensure a successful implementation of occupational health and safety interventions at an organizational level. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 2135.

hooks, 1984hooks, b. (1984). Feminist theory: From margin to center. South End Press.

Hornung, Rousseau, & Glaser, 2009Hornung, S., Rousseau, D. M., & Glaser, J. (2009). Why supervisors make idiosyncratic deals: antecedents and outcomes of i-deals from a managerial perspective. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 24(8), 738764.

Horwitz, & Horwitz, 2007Horwitz, S. K., & Horwitz, I. B. (2007). The effects of team diversity on team outcomes: A meta-analytic review of team demography. Journal of Management, 33(6), 9871015.

Hunton, 2005Hunton, J. E. (2005). Behavioral self-regulation of telework locations: Interrupting interruptions! Journal of Information Systems, 19, 111140.

Ichniowski, Shaw, & Prennushi, 1997Ichniowski, C., Shaw, K., & Prennushi, G. (1997). The effects of human resources management practices on productivity: A study of steel finishing lines. American Economic Review, 87, 291313.

Jackson-Best, & Edwards, 2018Jackson-Best, F., & Edwards, N. (2018). Stigma and intersectionality: A systematic review of systematic reviews across HIV/AIDS, mental illness, and physical disability. BMC Public Health, 18, 919.

James, 1993James, S. M. (1993). Mothering: A possible Black feminist link to social transformation. In S. M. James & A. A. Busia (Eds.), Theorizing Black feminisms: The visionary pragmatism of Black women (pp. 3244). Routledge.

Jett, & George, 2003Jett, Q., & George, J. (2003). Work interrupted: A closer look at the role of interruptions in organizational life. The Academy of Management Review, 28(3), 494507.

Kahn, 1990Kahn, W. A. (1990). Psychological conditions of personal engagement and disengagement at work. Academy of Management Journal, 33, 692724.

Kamenou, 2008Kamenou, N. (2008). Reconsidering work–life balance debates: Challenging limited understandings of the ‘life’ component in the context of ethnic minority women’s experiences. British Journal of Management, 19, S99S109.

Kanter, 1983Kanter, R. (1983). Men and women of the corporation. Basic Books.

Katzell, & Austin, 1992Katzell, R. A., & Austin, J. T. (1992). From then to now: The development of industrial-organizational psychology in the United States. Journal of Applied Psychology, 77(6), 803835.

Keeney, Boyd, Sinha, Westring, & Ryan, 2013Keeney, J., Boyd, E. M., Sinha, R., Westring, A. F., & Ryan, A. M. (2013). From “work–family” to “work–life”: Broadening our conceptualization and measurement. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 82(3), 221237.

Kelly, Ammons, Chermack, & Moen, 2010Kelly, E., Ammons, S., Chermack, K., & Moen, P. (2010). Confronting the ideal worker norm in a White-collar organization. Gender and Society, 24(3), 281303.

Kelly, 2022Kelly, J. (2022). JP Morgan requires employees to return to their offices by July striking-a blow to the remote work trend?

Kennedy, 2022Kennedy, A. (2022). Finding a new normal: Embracing flexibility for a better era of working. Forbes.

Kirby, & Krone, 2002Kirby, E., & Krone, K. (2002). The policy exists but you can’t really use it: Communication and the structuration of work-family policies. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 30(1), 5077.

Kolhatkar, 2021Kolhatkar, S. (2021). What about work-life balance for low-wage women of color?

Kossek, Dumas, Piszczek, & Allen, 2021Kossek, E. E., Dumas, T. L., Piszczek, M. M., & Allen, T. D. (2021). Pushing the boundaries: A qualitative study of how stem women adapted to disrupted work–nonwork boundaries during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Applied Psychology, 106, 16151629.

Kossek, Gettings, Misra, & Berg, 2014Kossek, E. E., Gettings, P., Misra, K., & Berg, P. (2014). Balanced and imbalanced workplace flexibility: Cultures of flexibility practice across organizations. Paper presented at National Academy of Management meetings, Philadelphia, PA.

Kossek, & Kelliher, 2022Kossek, E. E., & Kelliher, C. (2022). Making flexibility more i-deal: Advancing work-life equality collectively. Group and Organization Management.

Kossek, & Lautsch, 2012Kossek, E. E., & Lautsch, B. (2012). Work-family boundary management styles in organizations: A cross-level model. Organizational Psychology Review, 2, 152171.

Kossek, & Lautsch, 2018Kossek, E. E., & Lautsch, B. (2018). Work-life flexibility for whom? Occupational status and work-life inequality in upper, middle, and lower level jobs. The Academy of Management Annals, 12(1), 56.

Kossek, Lautsch, & Eaton, 2006Kossek, E. E., Lautsch, B., & Eaton, S. (2006). Telecommuting, control, and boundary management: Correlates of policy use, job control, and work-family effectiveness. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 68, 347367.

Kossek, & Lee, 2020Kossek, E. E., & Lee, K.-H. (2020). The Coronavirus & work–life inequality: Three evidence-based initiatives to update U.S. work–life employment policies. Behavioral Science & Policy.

Kossek, & Michel, 2011Kossek, E. E., & Michel, J. (2011). Flexible work scheduling. In S. Zedeck (Ed.). Handbook of industrial-organizational psychology (Vol. 1, pp. 535572). APA.

Kossek, Perrigino, & Lautsch, 2022Kossek, E. E., Perrigino, M., & Lautsch, B. L. (2022). Work-life flexibility policies from a boundary control and implementation perspective: A review and research framework. Journal of Management.

Kossek, Perrigino, Russo, & Morandin, 2023Kossek, E. E., Perrigino, M., Russo, M., & Morandin, G. (2023). Missed connections between the leadership and work-life fields: Work-life supportive leadership as the key to the dual agenda. Academy of Management Annals, 17(1), 181217.

Kossek, Pichler, Bodner, & Hammer, 2011Kossek, E. E., Pichler, S., Bodner, T., & Hammer, L. B. (2011). Workplace social support and work–family conflict: A meta-analysis clarifying the influence of general and work–family-specific supervisor and organizational support. Personnel Psychology, 64(2), 289313.

Kossek, Ruderman, Braddy, & Hannum, 2012Kossek, E. E., Ruderman, M., Braddy, P., & Hannum, K. (2012). Work-nonwork boundary management profiles: A person-centered approach. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 81, 112128.

Kossek, & Thompson, 2016Kossek, E. E., & Thompson, R. (2016). Workplace flexibility: Integrating employer and employee perspectives to close the research-practice implementation gap. In L. Eby & T. Allen (Eds.), Oxford handbook of work and family (pp. 255270). Oxford.

Kossek, Thompson, & Lautsch, 2015Kossek, E. E., Thompson, R., & Lautsch, L. (2015). Balanced flexibility: Avoiding the traps. California Management Review, 57, 325.

Lautsch, Kossek, & Eaton, 2009Lautsch, B. A., Kossek, E. E., & Eaton, S. C. (2009). Supervisory approaches and paradoxes in managing telecommuting implementation. Human Relations, 62, 795827.

Leonard, 2013Leonard, B. (2013). Is flex blurring the boundaries between work and home? HR News. Society for Human Resource Management.

Leslie, Manchester, Park, & Mehung, 2012Leslie, L., Manchester, C., Park, T., & Mehung, S. (2012). Flexible work practices: A source of career premiums or penalties? Academy of Management Journal, 56, 14071428.

Lobel, & St. Clair, 1992Lobel, S. A., & St. Clair, L. (1992). Effects of family responsibilities, gender, and career identity salience on performance outcomes. Academy of Management Journal, 35(5), 10571069.

Lyons, Martinez, Ruggs, Hebl, Ryan, O’Brien, & Roebuck, 2018Lyons, B. J., Martinez, L. R., Ruggs, E. N., Hebl, M. R., Ryan, A. M., O’Brien, K. R., & Roebuck, A. (2018). To say or not to say: Different strategies of acknowledging a visible disability. Journal of Management, 44(5), 19802007.

May, Gilson, & Harter, 2004May, D. R., Gilson, R. L., & Harter, L. M. (2004). The psychological conditions of meaningfulness, safety, and availability and the engagement of the human spirit at work. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 77, 1137.

Merriweather, & Block, 2016Merriweather, T. J., & Block, C. B. (2016). For colored girls who have considered management: The effect of intersectional stereotypes on perceptions of managers. Paper presented in the “Multiple Minority Identities in the Workplace” Symposium at the Academy of Management Annual Meeting, Anaheim, CA.

Miller, 1992Miller, B. (1992). The distribution of family oriented benefits. EBRI Issue Brief No. 130. Employee Benefits Research Institute.

Mirza, 2018Mirza, H. S. (2018). Black bodies ‘out of place’ in academic spaces: Gender, race, faith and culture in post-race times. In J. Arday & H. S. Mirza (Eds.), Dismantling race in higher education (pp. 175193). Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.

Mkhize, & Pillay, 2018Mkhize, Z., & Pillay, A. (2018). Exploring Black female post-graduate science students’ experiences and understandings of their intersectional identities. Alternation Journal, 25(2), 249272.

Moradi, & Grzanka, 2017Moradi, B., & Grzanka, P. R. (2017). Using intersectionality responsibly: Toward critical epistemology, structural analysis, and social justice activism. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 64(5), 500513.

Motowidlo, & Kell, 2012Motowidlo, S., & Kell, H. (2012). Job performance. In Industrial and Organizational Psychology II (Vol. 12).

Neale, & Griffin, 2006Neale, M., & Griffin, M. A. (2006). A model of self-held work roles and role transitions. Human Performance, 19(1), 2341.

Özbilgin, Beauregard, Tatli, & Bell, 2011Özbilgin, M. F., Beauregard, T. A., Tatli, A., & Bell, M. P. (2011). Work-life, diversity and intersectionality: A critical review and research agenda. International Journal of Management Reviews, 13(2), 177198.

Paetzold, Dipboye, & Elsbach, 2008Paetzold, R. I., Dipboye, R. L., & Elsbach, K. D. (2008). A new look at stigmatization in and of organizations. The Academy of Management Review, 33(1), 186193.

Park, & Sprung, 2015Park, Y., & Sprung, J. M. (2015). Weekly work–school conflict, sleep quality, and fatigue: Recovery self-efficacy as a cross-level moderator. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 36(1), 112127.

Pelled, 1996Pelled, L. H. (1996). Demographic diversity, conflict, and work group outcomes: An intervening process theory. Organizational Science, 7, 615631.

Perlow, 2012Perlow, L. (2012). Sleeping with your smart phone. Harvard Business Publishing.

Perrigino, Dunford, & Wilson, 2018Perrigino, M., Dunford, B., & Wilson, K. (2018). Work-family backlash: The dark side of work-life balance policies. The Academy of Management Annals, 12, 600630.

Perry-Smith, & Blum, 2000Perry-Smith, J. E., & Blum, T. C. (2000). Work-family human resource bundles and perceived organizational performance. Academy of Management Journal, 43, 11071117.

Peters, Dennerlein, Wagner, & Sorensen, 2022Peters, S. E., Dennerlein, J. T., Wagner, G. R., & Sorensen, G. (2022). Work and worker health in the post-pandemic world: A public health perspective. The Lancet Public Health, 7(2), e188e194.

Pew Research Center 2022Pew Research Center. (2022, March). “Financial issues top the list of reasons U.S adults live in multigenerational homes” demographics of multigenerational households. Pew Research Center.

Purdie-Vaughns, & Eibach, 2008Purdie-Vaughns, V., & Eibach, R. P. (2008). Intersectional invisibility: The distinctive advantages and disadvantages of multiple subordinate-group identities. Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, 59(5–6), 377391.

Radke, Kutlaca, Siem, Wright, & Becker, 2020Radke, H. R., Kutlaca, M., Siem, B., Wright, S. C., & Becker, J. C. (2020). Beyond allyship: Motivations for advantaged group members to engage in action for disadvantaged groups. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 24(4), 291315.

Ramarajan, 2014Ramarajan, L. (2014). Past, present and future research on multiple identities: Toward an intrapersonal network approach. Academy of Management Annals, 8(1), 589659.

Ravenswood, & Harris, 2016Ravenswood, K., & Harris, C. (2016). Doing gender, paying low: Gender, class and work–life balance in aged care. Gender, Work & Organization, 23, 614628.

Rawls, 1971Rawls, J. (1971). A Theory of Justice: Original Edition. Harvard University Press. JSTOR,

Reed, & Brown, 2013Reed, N., & Brown, A. (2013). In every way I’m hustlin’: The post-graduate school intersectional experiences of activist-oriented adjunct and independent scholars. Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor, 22, 7181.

Remedios, & Snyder, 2018Remedios, J. D., & Snyder, S. H. (2018). Intersectional oppression: Multiple stigmatized identities and perceptions of invisibility, discrimination, and stereotyping. Journal of Social Issues, 74(2), 265281.

Ressler, & Thompson, 2008Ressler, C., & Thompson, J. (2008). Why work sucks and how to fix it. Penguin Group.

Rosette, & Livingston, 2012Rosette, A. S., & Livingston, R. W. (2012). Failure is not an option for Black women: Effects of organizational performance on leaders with singly versus dual-subordinate identities. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48(5), 11621167.

Rothbard, 2001Rothbard, N. P. (2001). Enriching or depleting? The dynamics of engagement in work and family roles. Administrative Science Quarterly, 46(4), 655684.

Rothbard, Phillips, & Dumas, 2005Rothbard, N. P., Phillips, K., & Dumas, T. (2005). Managing multiple roles: Work-family policies and individuals’ desires for segmentation. Organization Science, 16, 243258.

Rudman, & Glick, 2001Rudman, L. A., & Glick, P. (2001). Prescriptive gender stereotypes and backlash toward agentic women. Journal of Social Issues, 57(4), 743762.

Rudman, & Mescher, 2013Rudman, L. A., & Mescher, K. (2013). Penalizing men who request a family leave: Is flexibility stigma a femininity stigma? Journal of Social Issues, 69(2), 322340.

Ruiz Castro, & Holvino, 2016Ruiz Castro, M., & Holvino, E. (2016). Applying intersectionality in organizations: Inequality markers, cultural scripts and advancement practices in a professional service firm. Gender, Work & Organization, 23(3), 328347.

Russo, Shteigman, & Carmeli, 2015Russo, M., Shteigman, A., & Carmeli, A. (2015). Workplace and family support and work-life balance: Implications for individual psychological availability and energy at work. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 11(2), 173188.

Ryan, & Kossek, 2008Ryan, A., & Kossek, E. (2008). Work-life policy implementation: Breaking down or creating barriers to inclusiveness. Human Resource Management, 47, 295310.

Ryan, & Briggs, 2019Ryan, A. M., & Briggs, C. Q. (2019). Improving work-life policy and practice with an intersectionality lens. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, 39(5), 533547.

Sexton, Schwartz, Chadwick, Rehder, Bare, Bokovoy, Doram, Sotile, Adair, & Profit, 2017Sexton, J., Schwartz, S., Chadwick, W., Rehder, K., Bare, J., Bokovoy, J., Doram, K., Sotile, W., Adair, K., & Profit, J. (2017). The associations between work–life balance behaviours, teamwork climate and safety climate: Cross-sectional survey introducing the work–life climate scale, psychometric properties, benchmarking data and future directions. BMJ Quality & Safety, 8, 632640.

Shepard, Clifton, & Kruse, 1996Shepard, E., Clifton, T., & Kruse, D. (1996). Flexible work hours and productivity: Some evidence from the pharmaceutical industry. Industrial Relations, 35, 123139.

Shockley, Gabriel, Robertson, Rosen, Chawla, Ganster, & Ezerins, 2021Shockley, K. M., Gabriel, A. S., Robertson, D., Rosen, C. C., Chawla, N., Ganster, M. L., & Ezerins, M. E. (2021). The fatiguing effects of camera use in virtual meetings: A within-person field experiment. Journal of Applied Psychology, 106(8), 11371155.

Shore, Randel, Chung, Dean, Holcombe Ehrhart, & Singh, 2011Shore, L., Randel, A., Chung, B., Dean, M., Holcombe Ehrhart, K., & Singh, G. (2011). Inclusion and diversity in work groups: A review and model for future research. Journal of Management, 37, 12621289.

Sonnentag, & Fritz, 2015Sonnentag, S., & Fritz, C. (2015). Recovery from job stress: The stressor detachment model as an integrative framework. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 36, S72S103.

Standley, & Foster-Fishman, 2021Standley, C. J., & Foster-Fishman, P. (2021). Intersectionality, social support, and youth suicidality: A socioecological approach to prevention. Suicide & Life-Threatening Behavior, 51(2), 203211.

Straub, 2012Straub, C. (2012). Antecedents and organizational consequences of family supportive supervisor behavior: A multilevel conceptual framework for research. Human Resource Management Review, 22, 1526.

Stryker, & Serpe, 1982Stryker, S., & Serpe, R. (1982). Identity salience and psychological centrality: Equivalent, overlapping, or complementary concepts? Social Psychology Quarterly, 57, 1635.

Swank, & Fahs, 2013Swank, E., & Fahs, B. (2013). An intersectional analysis of gender and race for sexual minorities who engage in gay and lesbian rights activism. Sex Roles, 68(11), 660674.

Swank, & Fahs, 2013Swank, E., & Fahs, B. (2013). An intersectional analysis of gender and race for sexual minorities who engage in gay and lesbian rights activism. Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, 68(11–12), 660674.

Tajfel, & Turner, 1979Tajfel, H., & Turner, J. C. (1979). An integrative theory of inter-group conflict. In W. G. Austin & S. Worchel (Eds.), The social psychology of inter-group relations (pp. 3347). Brooks/Cole.

ten Brummelhuis, & Bakker, 2012ten Brummelhuis, L. L., & Bakker, A. B. (2012). A resource perspective on the work–home interface: The work–home resources model. American Psychologist, 67(7), 545556.

Thomas, & Ganster, 1995Thomas, L. T., & Ganster, D. C. (1995). Impact of family-supportive work variables on work-family conflict and strain: A control perspective. Journal of Applied Psychology, 80(1), 615.

Thornthwaite, 2004Thornthwaite, L. (2004). Working time and work-family balance: A review of employees’ preferences. Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources, 42(2), 166184.

Trefalt, 2013Trefalt, S. (2013). Between you and me: Setting work-nonwork boundaries in the context of workplace relationships. Academy of Management Journal, 6, 18021829.

Tsui, & Milkovich, 1987Tsui, A., & Milkovich, G. (1987). Personnel department activities: constituency perspectives and preferences. Personnel Psychology, 40, 519537.

Van Dyne, Kossek, & Lobel, 2007Van Dyne, L., Kossek, E., & Lobel, S. (2007). Less need to be there: Cross level effects of work practices that support work-life flexibility and enhance group processes and group-level OCB, Human Relations, 60, 11231153.

Wrzesniewski, & Dutton, 2001Wrzesniewski, A., & Dutton, J. E. (2001). Crafting a job: Revisioning employees as active crafters of their work. Academy of Management Review, 26, 179201.

Weick, 1979Weick, K. (1979). The social psychology of organizing. Addison Wesley.

Williams, Blair-Loy, & Berdahl, 2013Williams, J., Blair-Loy, M., & Berdahl, J. (2013). Cultural schemas, social class, and the flexibility stigma. Journal of Social Issues, Special Issue: The Flexibility Stigma, 69, 209234.

Wilson, & Baumann, 2015Wilson, K., & Baumann, H. (2015). Capturing a more complete view of employees’ lives outside of work: The introduction and development of new interrole conflict constructs. Personnel Psychology, 68, 235282.


We thank Tina Garwood and the Mitchell E. Daniels Junior School of Business Purdue University for administrative support.