Prelims

New Ways of Working Practices

ISBN: 978-1-78560-303-7, eISBN: 978-1-78560-302-0

ISSN: 1877-6361

Publication date: 16 December 2016

Citation

(2016), "Prelims", Leede, J.D. (Ed.) New Ways of Working Practices (Advanced Series in Management, Vol. 16), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. i-xxv. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1877-636120160000016010

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017 Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Half Title

NEW WAYS OF WORKING PRACTICES: ANTECEDENTS AND OUTCOMES

Series Page

ADVANCED SERIES IN MANAGEMENT

Previous Volumes:

Relational Practices, Participative Organizing

EDS. CHRIS STEYAERT AND BART VAN LOOY

Autopoiesis in Organization Theory and Practice

EDS. RODRIGO MAGALHAES AND RON SANCHEZ

Organizations as Learning Systems “Living Composition” as an Enabling Infrastructure

ED. MARJATTA MAULA

Complex Systems and Evolutionary Perspectives on Organizations: The Application of Complexity Theory to Organizations

ED. EVE MITLETON-KELLY

Managing Imaginary Organizations: A New Perspective on Business

EDS. BO HEDBERG, PHILIPPE BAUMARD AND A. YAKHLEF

Systems Perspectives on Resources, Capabilities and Management Processes

EDS. JOHN MORECROFT, RON SANCHEZ AND AIMÉ HEENE

Tracks and Frames: The Economy of Symbolic Forms in Organizations

ED. K. SKOLDBERG

Electronic HRM in Theory and Practice

EDS. T. BONDAROUK, H. RUËL, AND J. C. LOOISE

Commercial Diplomacy and International Business: A Conceptual and Empirical Exploration

ED. H. RUËL

(Dis)honesty in Management: Manifestations and Consequences

EDS. TIIA VISSAK AND MAAJA VADI

Social Media in Strategic Management

EDS. MIGUEL R. OLIVAS-LUJÁN AND TANYA BONDAROUK

Social Media in Human Resources Management

EDS. TANYA BONDAROUK AND MIGUEL R. OLIVAS-LUJÁN

Shared Services as a New Organizational Form

ED. TANYA BONDAROUK

Human Resource Management, Social Innovation and Technology

EDS. TANYA BONDAROUK AND MIGUEL R. OLIVAS-LUJÁN

Dead Firms: Causes and Effects of Cross-Border Corporate Insolvency

EDS. MIGUEL M. TORRES, VIRGINIA CATHRO, AND MARIA ALEJANDRA GONZALEZ-PEREZ

Title Page

NEW WAYS OF WORKING PRACTICES: ANTECEDENTS AND OUTCOMES

EDITED BY

JAN DE LEEDE

University of Twente, Enschede, Netherlands

United Kingdom – North America – Japan India – Malaysia – China

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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First edition 2017

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ISBN: 978-1-78560-303-7

ISSN: 1877-6361 (Series)

List of Contributors

Gunnar Aronsson Department of Psychology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
Merle Blok TNO, Leiden, Netherlands
Tanya Bondarouk Human Resource Management, University of Twente, Enschede, Netherlands
Jan de Leede Faculty of Behavioral, Management and Social Sciences, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands
Steven Dhondt TNO, Leiden, Netherlands; KU Leuven, Belgium
Paddy Heuver Sensire, P&O-PSA, Varsseveld, Netherlands
Niels Hoornweg Kuehne + Nagel N.V., Western Europe Region, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Göran Kecklund Stress Research Institute, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
Michiel Kompier Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University, Nijmegen, Netherlands
Christin Mellner Department of Psychology, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
Florian Moll METRO Cash and Carry, Düsseldorf, Germany
Joyce Nijland Rabobank Enschede-Haaksbergen, Netherlands
Pascale Peters Business Administration, SHRM, Radboud University, Institute for Management Research (IMR / GAINS), Nijmegen, Netherlands
Amir Sariaslan Department of Psychiatry, Medical Sciences Division, University of Oxford, England
Beatrice van der Heijden Business Administration, SHRM, Radboud University, Institute for Management Research (IMR/GAINS), Nijmegen, The Netherlands; Open University of the Netherlands, Heerlen, The Netherlands; Kingston University, London, UK
Friso van der Meulen TNO, Leiden, Netherlands

Introduction

New Ways of Working: About the Hype and More to Come

This book is about new ways of working, about the new world of work. To put it broader, one might say it is about the future of work. New technologies and new office concepts are decisive for our working environments. New ways of working refer to broader management labels, such as ‘the new workplace’ (Holman, Wall, Clegg, Sparrow, & Howard, 2003); ‘the New World of Work’ (Gates & Rasmus, 2005); ‘new ways of organizing work’ (Kelliher & Richardson, 2012); and ‘New Ways to Work’ (Peters, Poutsma, Van der Heijden, Bakker & De Bruijn, 2014). These are all big words and concepts, and we are just at the start to understand the impact of these global trends across the world on shaping our behaviours at work. Not only in the management world, also in the facility management world, New Ways of Working (NWW) is ubiquitous. An example is the White Book of ISS entitled ‘New ways of working; the workplace of the future’ (2013) in which a global survey among facility managers is reported. According to the FM industry, virtual work will have the greatest influence on office design in 2020.

We might understand the status of these ‘new’ concepts if we view them as management fashions. Abrahamson (1991, 1996) describes how management fashions work and how important they are both for practice and research. We may observe remarkable similarities with the NWW discourse. Now, it is in the ‘upswing’ phase, with many positive stories on the outcomes of NWW, although some critical studies are appearing. Still, this upswing phase is characterized by a ‘superstitious’ way of learning, as trendsetters present the new concept as a quite simple but powerful technique with quasi-magical powers. This goes along with enthusiastic stories and anecdotal evidence; you simply cannot be against these new management philosophies. Many organizations do copy these techniques, why we can label it as a fad or fashion.

NWW seems to be in the upswing phase of a management fashion. Five arguments can be put to this statement. Firstly, the academic rigour of the concept is questionable, the definitions are too broad and loose. Do NWW refer to new work practices, new working environments, new office environments, new technologies, new labour relations or new management styles? If so, then the concept simply seems too broad to say something about it. If it is so general, it covers everything. Secondly, NWW is taken as a simplification of reality: the old versus the new ways of working. Thirdly, NWW as a concept is put forward with a prescriptive character. Many authors present some broad or even very detailed prescriptions of management and employee practices that have to be followed in order to get the promised benefits. Fourthly, the rate of imitation is quite high. Many boardrooms of organizations wonder if they also should follow this concept. NWW is ‘in the air’, it resonates to modern views of organizing. Finally, a lot of rhetoric accompanies NWW as the concept that finally will raise the welfare of today’s knowledge society by increasing the productivity of knowledge workers.

To some extent, it is dangerous and regrettable if NWW just sticks to this phase. Regrettable, because if organizations just blind copy these management practices, they run the risk of making the same mistakes as others do. They do not take the optimal configuration of new technologies, practices and management techniques, but just copy them from others, inspired by some best practices and misinformed by many consultancy agencies that only seek their own business. So, already we see some failures in trying to implement new ways of working, or we witness some retreats. A famous example is Yahoo in 2013, whose CEO Marissa Mayer wants to have everyone at the office in ‘normal’ business hours. No more flexible working hours, no working from home, just back to normal work. She explained that people who work alone are more productive, but people who work together are more collaborative and innovative. Those competences are needed for their company at that particular phase. The next phase of a management fashion according to Abrahamson, after a short and unstable asymptote, is the downswing, symmetric to the rise and giving way to new fads and fashions.

Towards a Definition

Apparently, the concept of NWW is stemming from practice and has been coined in the professional literature (e.g. Bijl, 2009; Gates & Rasmus, 2005; Hartmans & Kamperman, 2009; Veldhoen, 2005). The academic literature on new ways of working is not well elaborated (see Blok, Groenesteijn, Van den Berg, & Vink, 2011; Ten Brummelhuis, Bakker, Hetland, & Keulemans, 2012). Therefore, it is important to disentangle the concept of NWW into concepts that have been researched in order to conclude anything about the nature, the conditions and the outcomes of NWW. Only then it is possible to counter or to support the claims of NWW advocates. Only then, we can distinguish the real NWW from ‘consultancy-selling-promo-talk’ with lots of promised and non-real claims.

Pioneers of Virtual Work

If we follow some non-academic authors who have been pioneering with the concept of NWW in The Netherlands we can conclude that they point on some important trends in today’s world of work. However, their analytical power in dealing with the different concepts is a bit lacking. What they normally propose is to cluster some practices and label these trends into one concept: New Ways of Working. Bijl (2009), Veldhoen (2005), Van den Haterd (2010) do not define NWW in an exclusive and clear way. They all point to important developments. Especially Veldhoen (1994, 2005) can be viewed as one of the pioneering authors on NWW. Here, we want to elaborate on his work.

Veldhoen (2005) describes trends like open offices, individualization and new information technologies that enable a lot of choices in where and when to work. In his view, all these new possibilities imply a new function of the office. The nature of the office is changing from a space to work into a space to meet. Work is done at home, on the road or at the customer. The office is the place to meet each other, or to have meetings and brainstorms. Veldhoen (1994, 2005) defines the concept of workstyle as the system that regulates how people deal with one another and resources. A workstyle is the configuration of three coherent environments or dimensions: (1) the virtual environment (information technology supporting the using and sharing information and knowledge; (2) the physical environment (the building and interior design of the office) and (3) the behavioural environment or mental dimension (attitudes and behaviour that come along with collaboration, both from managers and employees). An activity-based workstyle means putting the activity at the centre and choosing the right environment in which this activity can be performed at best. This might be one of the cornerstones of NWW: providing people the freedom to choose when and where they perform their tasks and activities and therefore optimizing the time, place and tools to perform the work. In activity-based workstyle offices approximately 35% of the workers change workspace during the course of the day, 45% change every other day, 18% change 2–3 times a week and 2% use the same workspace almost always (Hartmans & Kamperman, 2009).

Many Definitions

New Ways of Working (NWW) is a concept that has been defined in a broad and somewhat loose manner. Table 1 presents some of the most cited definitions.

Table 1

Definitions of new ways of working.

Baane, Houtkamp, and Knotter (2010, p. 42)
  • NWW consist of four basic principles

    • 1.

      Time and place independent work

    • 2.

      Steering on output

    • 3.

      Free access to knowledge, experience and information

    • 4.

      Flexible labour relations.

Blok, Groenesteijn, Schelvis, and Vink (2012, p. 5075)
  • ‘This empowerment implies offering the employees more self-control and freedom by introducing flexible work arrangements. This transformation is often referred to as “the New Ways of Working” (NWW) and consists of changes that take place at four aspects:

    • 1)

      the physical workspace,

    • 2)

      (ICT) technology,

    • 3)

      organization & management and

    • 4)

      work culture’.

Ten Brummelhuis et al. (2012, p. 113) ‘Flexible work designs whereby employees can decide themselves when they work (schedule flexibility), where they work (telecommuting), and via which communication medium (smart-phone, e-mail, videoconference) they work’.
De Leede and Kraijenbrink (2014, p. 7) ‘… an innovative configuration of work, technology and people whereby the employee is able to work independent of time, place and organization. It is supported by a flexible work environment which is facilitated by the latest technology and ICT. In addition, it provides more responsibility and autonomy to employees, and management will change into managing by output and trust. This new way of working will result in a higher efficiency and effectiveness to the organization and the employees’.
Peters et al. (2014, p. 2) ‘… a set of HRM practices (employee empowerment, teleworking, and creating trust relationships)’.

We observe some overlap as well as some differences between these definitions. In the first place, they all focus on practices in which employees can choose to work at the time and workplace they prefer. It is safe to conclude that these definitions all focus on practices in which employees experience some autonomy in when and where to work. Some authors call it autonomy, others empowerment or freedom to choose. To our understanding, this is a very basic principle of NWW and it is based on the early insights of Veldhoen (1994) that it is about providing freedom to people to choose the appropriate time and space to work. If employees may choose on their own – individual – workstyle, it will boost their productivity and work-life balance. In other words, one of the most important characteristics of NWW is the possibility for employees to work independently of time and workplace. Of course, it is important to know to what extent these two types of autonomy are realized. We come back to the boundaries and to this ‘degree of virtuality’ (De Leede, Kraan, den Hengst, & van Hooff, 2008) later on.

In the second place, most definitions also imply a technological basis: it is the Information Technology that is enabling to work independent from time and location. Through the use of internet, business networks, e-mail, social media and all kinds of collaboration technologies it is possible to work at times beyond standard office hours and to work beyond the standard office workplaces. Technology makes it possible. You may discuss whether this is a defining characteristic or an enabling one. However, because of the importance of IT, in most definitions IT is therefore included in the definition of NWW. This also is quite close to the origins of the concept, back in the 1980 and 1990s in which teleworking or telecommuting refers to practices to work at home by making use of IT (Bailey & Kurland, 2002; Bailyn, 1989; Baruch, 2000).

Next to these similarities about autonomy and technology, the definitions begin to differ. Do characteristics like ‘steering on output’ and ‘organization & management’ belong to the defining characteristic of NWW, or not? Or is it a consequence of working in the new concept, like De Leede and Kraijenbrink (2014) state? Likewise, another difference is the way how they treat culture. Do ‘work culture’ or aspects like ‘trusting relationships’ belong to the defining characteristics of NWW, or do they belong to the conditions or even the consequences of NWW? It might be difficult to entangle these variables, however, for a thorough analysis of the concept and its outcomes, it is necessary to make a deliberate choice.

Our Definition

For reasons of analytical clarity, we define NWW in a focused manner. The main characteristic of NWW is the freedom for employees to choose their working times and working places. The second characteristic is the use of IT to enable this remote work and this 24/7 possibility to work at other times. It is because information and communication technologies enable time-space compression (Harvey, 1989) that work is less bound to place and time. This second characteristic is absolutely a must, because otherwise NWW will not discriminate from traditional work that for example teachers usually do in preparing lectures or grading tests at home. That kind of work usually was paperwork, and also possible beyond business hours and beyond office workspaces. Nevertheless, it is not a practice that is characteristic for New Ways of Working. Therefore, in our definition we need to incorporate the technology.

Our definition of NWW is as follows:

New Ways of Working are practices in which employees are able to work independent of time, place and organization, supported by a flexible work environment which is facilitated by information technologies.

We now are able to make a list of NWW practices that are exemplary for NWW, see Table 2. It is largely based on the work of Blok et al. (2011), however we added some practices and also left some out (like management based on trust), because these seem to be conditions for the effective application of NWW practices.

Table 2

NWW practices.

NWW Practice Description
Teleworking Doing the work (partly) from home, fully connected to the office network
Mobile working Enabling employees to work while commuting
Satellite offices Offices outside an organization’s office buildings, for example at customer’s locations
Flexible workspaces Flexible workspaces in the office building that are shared among employees and offer specific environments that correspond to the various tasks to facilitate effective working
Flexible working hours Allowing to start and end the workday outside of the core time
Social networks Using smartphones and other mobile devices to allow employees to stay digitally connected via for example work-e-mail at home, Facebook or LinkedIn
Collaborative tools Using smartphones and other mobile devices to enable video conferencing, digital collaboration and document sharing

Having defined NWW as working independent of time, place and organization, we incorporated only the flexible working environment and the technology as part of the definition. No other variables. That is a deliberate choice. It seems important to distinguish between the concept and its conditions. Of course, we agree that NWW needs to be managed in a somewhat different way compared to the old situation in which people are always and simultaneously around. In Chapter 3, the new way of leadership will be discussed. And of course, it is important to having trusting relationships between managers and remote workers, or between co-workers. And we also agree with the notion of communication as an important vehicle to ensure collaboration between employees who are working on different places and different times. In Chapter 4 we will discuss the implications of NWW for teamwork. However, key is that we see all these variables as an implication of NWW, not as a defining characteristic.

Who Are the NWW Workers

The definition of NWW as time-and-space-independent work also excludes lots of workers in today’s organizations. In modern society, still many people work at sites that are not suitable for NWW. We may think of the sector of the hotels and restaurants: no one can think of drinking a beer at a place while the waiter is working at home only. As a consequence, workers at the hospitality sector mostly have place-dependent work. They cannot work at home nor do mobile work. The same applies for the time aspect of this kind of work. They cannot work only during the day, because most work is in the evening! As a matter of fact, they can use IT to make work easier. The same is for the healthcare sector and still for the educational sector. Mostly, work is done during business hours at special places designated for treating people and for educating them. That work is on fixed hours and on designated places. Again, we see some trends in delivering healthcare at a distance, or online courses for universities. So part of the work maybe done like an NWW practice. However, the major part is still time-and-space-bound.

The last observation leads to another nuance of work in modern society: NWW is a matter of degree. It is not black or white, either old ways of working or new ways of working. We may conclude that some parts of work – like consultancy work, knowledge work, sales work, information work, game and software development – might be labelled as work that can be organized typically in NWW practices. Here, mobile work, flexible and open offices, working across business hours are normal practices. Other parts of the working populations are practicing only some parts of NWW, like administrative workers, contact centre workers and public administrative workers. They may employ specific parts of NWW, or to a limited part of their work hours. We agree with Lilischkis (2003) and Vartiainen (2006) that simply on the physical dimension at least five types can be distinguished: (1) ‘on-site movers’ like farmers, doctors, security agents, (2) ‘yo-yos’ like workers in emergency services, ICT developers who work at the customer’s premises, (3) ‘pendulums’ such as teleworkers who work at home or at the office, (4) ‘nomads’ who constantly are moving from one location to another, they travel to their work without a fixed home and (5) ‘carriers’ who work on the move, transporting goods and people. These five types mainly differ on the dimension of physical location where they mainly work. Next to this, we may also distinguish between types on the temporal dimension: time and temporariness imply also a matter of degree. How much time do workers work on the company’s premises, what part are they working at home, is that only a few hours per week, or one or two days per week on a structural basis? What part of their time are they travelling, do they work across time zones? All these characteristics are indicators of the degree of implementation of NWW.

The two dimensions of NWW, working independent from time and space, enable us also to state that for location-bound work it is still possible to employ NWW practices. Although it is not about mobile work or so, it might be very conceivable to implement NWW practices regarding the time dimension, see Table 2 with the NWW practice of Flexible Hours. In this case it is possible to let workers control their working times. That might be a solution for employers who want to offer social innovation practices to workers who are bound to fixed and determined locations. They can be offered flexible hours with some degree of control over their own working times. Examples of self-rostering are a promising social innovation (Garde et al., 2012; NCSI 2009; Nijp, Beckers, Geurts, Tucker, & Kompier, 2012). In our opinion, self-rostering can be viewed as a promising New Ways of Working for location-bound workers.

The Need for a Theory of NWW

New Ways of Working is a concept stemming from practice. Until now, no theoretical framework has been accepted for this broad concept. Some researchers conclude that so far no quantitative or multi-factorial research to prove the relationships between NWW and business outcomes (Blok et al., 2011). We are just at the beginning of understanding the antecedents and outcomes of NWW. There is definitely a big need for more theory. Theory that helps us to understand why NWW leads to positive and negative outcomes, for the individual, the organization and society.

New Ways of Working and the Connection with Other Concepts

Reading and writing on New Ways of Working is quite an experience. Many advocates of NWW do remind us about other concepts and theories. We mentioned already concepts like social innovation, self-rostering and good old teleworking. In addition, other concepts like empowerment, high-performance work organizations, self-managing teams and virtual teams also have some characteristics in common. Now we have defined the concept of NWW as time-space-organization independent work practices supported by flexible work environments and ICT, we may compare some related concepts in a more precise way, see Table 3.

Table 3

NWW and related concepts.

NWW Concept Related Concepts
Organizational perspective Working independent of time–place–organization Empowerment
High commitment work
High-performance work organizations
Self-managing teams
Flexible working times
Virtual teams
Technological and workspace perspective Supported by flexible workspaces and facilitated by information technologies Mobile work
Open offices
Collaborative work systems
Groupware

The organizational perspective centres around the core of the NWW concept: the work is done by the worker independent of time, place and organization boundaries. That is the core of the concept, but within the popular NWW publications and in websites, forums and consultant communities much emphasis is laid on accompanying measures focusing on behaviour and management styles. Managing on output, managing by trust, working in teams with increased levels of autonomy, all these practices are strengthening the principle that employees may choose their own workplace, work times and even their preferred organization. These practices refer to a long-standing stream of research and publications on concepts around empowerment and autonomy. Then we are in the field of high commitment work systems and high-performance organizations (Appelbaum, Bailey, Berg, & Kalleberg, 2000; Osterman, 1995) who stress that specific human resource practices like job-security, training, pay-for-performance, team-based work, autonomy and family-friendly practices help to build an investment in workers which they want to ‘pay back’ in higher commitment and higher performance. This idea has been highly elaborated in the field of self-managing teams from diverse perspectives, like organizational psychology (Campion, Medsker, & Higgs, 1993), organization design (De Sitter, Den Hertog, & Dankbaar, 1997; Hackman, 1987), and job design (Grant & Parker, 2009).

Another related group of concepts is focusing around flexible working times. This has been a classic theme in many organizations. The search for more flexibility in working times is a long-standing one, in which a delicate balance is looked for between the interests of the customer, the employer and the employee. One of the recurrent debates is that on flexibility in working times (see e.g. Golden, 2012). The idea is that in offering more flexible working times to employees, they can establish preferred working times easier, so that this is more family-friendly. This is the same reasoning as in the high-performance literature. There are many flexible options, like flexitime, annualized hours and flexible schedules. Flexitime is one of the options, offering the possibility to employees to start and end the working days on their own preferred times, provided they make enough hours and are present during the ‘block hours’. Annualized hours (also called working time accounts) are another option in which employees work longer hours in busy periods and less hours in quiet periods. Longer hours are also possible in the form of compressed workweeks. Flexible work schedules with a certain degree of control by employees are also an important trend. We already mentioned that self-rostering might be the only possibility for new ways of working for those who have to work in fixed workplaces. From an NWW perspective, these flexible working time arrangements are integral part of the general idea of NWW: letting people work independent of time constraints. Of course, these time issues should fit the demands of the customers, the colleagues and the process, nonetheless within these restrictions, workers can choose their own preferred working times.

The third group of concepts in the organizational perspective is represented by the literature on virtual teams and virtual work. Here, again a long and established stream of literature is present (Bailey, Leonardi, & Barley, 2012; Gilson, Maynard, Young, Vartiainen, & Hakonen, 2015; Lipnack & Stamps, 1997; Martins, Gilson, & Maynard, 2004). Globally dispersed team members who collaborate with each other across time zones are widely researched in the last 15 years. Working in these remote teams implies a lot of new challenges to overcome, both in practice and in research, such as the time zones and the 24/7 connectivity, evaluation at a distance, building trust and monitoring at a distance, cross-generational preferences (e.g. Tannenbaum, Mathieu, Salas, & Cohen, 2012). Due to the similarities between virtual teams and NWW practices, we view these themes as also relevant for NWW. Therefore, it is good to incorporate observations, evidence and theories that have been developed in this area and to translate them towards the topic of NWW.

The technological and workspace perspective centres around the supportive technologies and working environments. The first concept is that of mobile work (Lilischkis, 2003); albeit close to the virtual team literature, the mobile work literature is distinct from it, since Toffler (1980) linked mobility to technology. Mobility in this sense means that work can be done anytime and anyplace. It can be done at home, at satellite offices, at the clients’ premises and on the road – especially on the public transport. Using mobile technologies and wireless connections, it is really no longer an issue where you are to contribute to your team or colleagues. It is like Cohen (2010) who states that mobile work is both product and cause of the declining importance of place. Technology is ubiquitous, since networks, satellites and wireless options cover almost all places on earth. Given our definition of NWW, mobile working is one of the important NWW practices.

The second concept focuses on open offices. Within facility management, new trends in office space design are oriented to offer more flexibility, ‘hot seats’ instead of fixed seats and open spaces where people can meet, not only work. These trends are real NWW practices, making work more independent of time and space. The main point is that the function of physical workspace nowadays has changed (Johns & Gratton, 2013; Veldhoen, 2005). Previously, offices and factories were designed to store expensive equipment and to support efficient processes. Every employee needed to be at the office. The unintended side-benefits of colocation were cultural alignment, idea generation and fellowship. Now, the private workplaces are replaced by open, flexible and transparent workspaces. The outcome is – or at least intends to be – a collaborative space, a creative hub where innovation might spin off from happy accidents of different cultures. The office is no longer the place to work but to meet.

The third concept in the technology perspective comprises collaborative technologies and groupware (Andriessen, 2003). This is the technological source of NWW. One of the problems here is the pace of technological change. Many studies within this field do still focus on technologies of the last two decades, like e-mail, video conferencing, mobile phones and on technologies of the last decade, like document sharing, meeting tools, project management tools and social media (see also a previous volume in this series, Bondarouk & Olivas-Luján, 2013). However, the most recent technologies, such as 3D virtual environments are not captured to date (Gilson et al., 2015).

Theories behind NWW

One of the reasons for this book is to develop some theories behind New Ways of Working. Next to this, we will present data from some empirical studies. The development of theory however, is a major objective of this volume. At the same time, it is a difficult one. We have to limit ourselves in the many theories that are present in the field of work and organization. Therefore, this book is focusing on some specific points of interest. These foci will help to select the appropriate theories which help the research community to further develop the body of knowledge on the concept.

The first focus is that our starting point is the NWW-practice. We want to take an inductive method, starting from observation of these practices – of course with the help of our theories. These NWW practices – in their diversity – are applications of concepts-in-practice. We view NWW as a concept-in-practice. Although it is possible to think of NWW only on a conceptual level, it is our position that this is rather besides the contribution of NWW to our field. NWW stems from the practical world of contemporary organizations. Managers, HR professionals, architects, employees, ICT professionals and consultants are trying to combine new developments from the areas of technology, offices and management. Therefore, given the status of the concept of NWW and for the purpose of theoretical clarity it is better to start from the concepts-in-practice and to link them to theoretical concepts than the other way around. The risk that theories and theoretical concepts do not fit the practices in real-life contexts is simply too high. In other words, our point is to contribute to the research community by an inductive way of reasoning and research. Theories must help to explore in this relatively new world of work, with all these emerging NWW practices.

The second focus is the configurational perspective. Given the nature of NWW, we will not go into specific organizational theories such as resource dependence theory, transaction cost economics, contingency theory, institutional theory, population ecology or other basic theories. Nor, we will elaborate on organizational behaviour theories, like specific leadership theories or teamwork theories. Instead, we want to explore the configurational perspective. We suppose a fit with the very nature of NWW practices. This book offers some chapters (Chapter 1–4) with the classic correlation-based approach. There, we present quantitative data to understand the hypothesized associations. However, we combine the more correlation-based research approach with a configurational approach in defining the concepts under scrutiny. We view the combination of certain NWW practices applied as typical for NWW. Moreover, we have defined the very concept of NWW as a set of practices. In parallel with the notion of human resource management bundles (Stavrou & Brewster, 2005), we think that NWW practices together can be viewed as bundles or sets that together are strengthening the hypothesized effects.

A Configurational Perspective on NWW

Configurational research focuses on sets of firms sharing some key characteristics, such as strategy, goals and structures (Meyer, Tsui, & Hinings, 1993). As the review article of Short, Payne, and Ketchen (2008) shows, most configurational research is on the level of groups of companies that have similar characteristics. Patterns or profiles rather than independent variables are related to all kinds of outcomes. They propose the term ‘organizational configurations’ as a cover term and elaborate these in four other concepts: strategic groups, archetypes, generic strategies and organizational forms. The essential feature of configurational research is the focus on similar characteristics between organizations. The constitution of these similar characteristics is carefully selected and meaningful. Just because of these careful and meaningful set of characteristics, it is possible to compare organizations and to describe, explain and predict organizational behaviour. Other researchers apply this line of reasoning also on some intraorganizational phenomena, such as human resource practices (Delery & Doty, 1996). We mentioned already the approach of the human resource management bundles.

Inspired by this configurational perspective it is possible to make one step further in theory and research when we dive into the NWW concept. Our approach is focused on NWW as a set of NWW practices (see Table 2). These practices reinforce each other if they are well-designed and fit to each other. However, we also suppose that some of the NWW practices can belong together as a set of NWW practices. An example might be the combination of teleworking/home-based working and flexible hours. That is a logical combination of practices. Other companies might combine the basic NWW practices with flexible spaces (open offices, etc). Both combinations can be accompanied by some ICT tooling. In this sense it is possible to develop a typology of NWW: the basic level of NWW, a more elaborated one and the advanced level.

An example of a typology of NWW is given by Van der Meulen (2014), based on the National NWW Barometer. He distinguished ‘Basic NWW’ with components like open, flexible offices, time and place independent work, new ICT and autonomy from the more advanced levels of NWW. These are the NWW Collaborative strategy (with the basic components and multifunctional and autonomous teams, knowledge sharing and new collaborative forms), the NWW Sustainable strategy (with the basic components and the green offices, green commuting, facilitating home-based work) and finally the NWW Combination strategy which combines as much of the former components.

We think configurations allow us to examine which practices belong together in a powerful manner, how they relate to each other and that the outcomes are of such combinations of NWW practices. This will help us to do research in practice, because in companies it is seldom the case that only one practice is implemented and be stable for a longer period. Almost always a number of NWW practices together are implemented or developed over a period of time. A set-theoretic analysis permits a rich analysis of configurations and the effects on performance, commitment, work-life balance and other outcomes.

The Contents of This Volume

This book describes the developments for everyone at the office, especially for the knowledge and information worker. We describe and analyse the trends that currently in The Netherlands is called ‘New Ways of Working’. The purpose of the book is to present some examples of New ways of working practices and to show some theory behind. The focus of the volume is on the behavioural side of NWW practices. Of course, we will touch upon the technologies and workplace environments behind NWW practices, however, many researchers and practitioners claim that the key for the success is not in IT, nor in facilities, it is in behaviour. Modern workers, as knowledge and information processing professionals, have to learn and to adapt to the new possibilities of collaboration at a distance. Modern managers have to learn and to show new leadership behaviours in order to get the most out of it. And modern organization theorists and consultants have to learn how to build organizations that can easily absorb these new practices. Big challenges and so exciting to reflect on it! Therefore, we present some new data on the use of NWW practices in the Dutch case as one of the leading countries in these global trends.

The book is structured as follows.

The chapter by Hoornweg, Peters and van der Heijden is focusing on the productivity outcomes of a specific NWW-practice: telework. It presents new data on the curvilinear relationship between telework intensity and productivity, and explores some of explanations. Strikingly, they neither found support for a mediating role of intrinsic motivation, nor for a moderation effect of the number of office hours in the relationship between telework intensity and intrinsic motivation. However, the direct relationship between telework intensity and individual productivity appeared to be moderated by the number of office hours. It was concluded that consequences for productivity are contingent on telework intensity, and that the number of office hours has an important impact on the consequences of different telework intensities. The number of week hours is also one of the themes in the second chapter of Mellner, Kecklund, Kompier, Sariaslan and Aronsson – a Swedish-Dutch research team. They present a large data set of Swedish professionals and test some hypotheses on long work hours, psychological detachment and sleep. The findings include that working boundlessly in time increases the likelihood for long weekly work hours and lack of psychological detachment. Hence, employees working ‘anytime – all the time’ run the risk of ‘always being on’ resulting in disturbed sleep. So, Chapter 1 and 2 present important findings for both productivity and intrinsic motivation and psychological detachment. They show the boundaries of boundary less work!

The next three chapters present new data on the relationships between NWW practices and three distinct antecedents and outcomes: leadership, teamwork and innovation behaviour. De Leede and Heuver show in Chapter 3 that the implementation of NWW leads to better productivity and commitment. However, the results indicated that all three leadership behaviours, including empowerment, trust and steering on output, did not have significant moderator effects on the outcomes of NWW. Instead, they found some direct relations between the leadership behaviours and NWW. In addition, we found some interesting interaction effects, suggesting curvilinear associations between NWW and outcomes with different leadership behaviours. In Chapter 4 De Leede and Nijland deal with the team working practices along with the implemented NWW practices. They present data on the moderating effect of teamwork behaviours on outcomes of NWW, such as individual productivity, commitment and innovation behaviour. The results indicated that all five components of teamwork behaviour did not have significant moderator effects on the outcomes of NWW. Instead, they found some direct relations between the components of teamwork behaviours and NWW. In line with Chapter 3, they conclude that curvilinear associations exist between NWW and outcomes with different components of teamwork behaviour. Again, both chapters show the boundaries of boundary less work. In Chapter 5 Moll and De Leede explore the relationship between NWW practices and innovation behaviour. They present a literature review of virtual work and innovation and a conceptual framework. Qualitative data from three case-studies will illustrate the main issues: the complex linkages between distributed work and exploration and exploitation. Important data on the complex relationships between NWW and innovation.

In Chapter 6, Blok, Van der Meulen and Dhondt explore the concept of NWW by comparing NWW with the sociotechnical systems approach. The comparison of NWW and STS reveals as most important finding that the NWW approach misses a coherent theoretical foundation for the design of organizations. NWW focuses on loose aspects of organizations, like workspace, work design, management, organizational culture and competences. This is also evident in the scientific research focused on NWW: many studies examine the impact of a specific measure (e.g. introduction of flexible workspaces) on specific aspects of the organization (e.g. social cohesion). Due to the lack of a work design approach no framework exists to test whether the introduction of NWW fits to the organization and how work is organized and divided. It is their statement that NWW can only be effective once a good theoretical foundation is provided for NWW and once a clear work design approach is deducted. This is an interesting contribution in the debate on the theoretical underpinning of NWW.

In the concluding chapter, Bondarouk and De Leede take a look at the future of work. Based on the work presented in this volume they analyse the adjective ‘new’ and conclude that ‘new’ has become ‘normal’. They present a conceptual framework addressing the issue of integrating new technologies in workplaces. Finally, we will draw the lessons for HR.

This volume shows that NWW practices entail much more than just home-based work or telework for a few people. It is changing everyone’s work anytime, anyplace, anyhow. At the same time, we show also some of the myths behind the buzzword of NWW and demonstrate that NWW stands for Normal Ways of Working.

Jan de Leede

Editor

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