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Beware of side effects on quality! Investigating the implications of home working on work-life balance in educational services

Rocco Palumbo (Management and Law, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy)
Rosalba Manna (National and International School Systems Analysis, INDIRE, Firenze, Italy)
Mauro Cavallone (Management, Economics and Quantitative Methods,Universita degli Studi di Bergamo, Bergamo, Italy)

The TQM Journal

ISSN: 1754-2731

Article publication date: 9 October 2020

Issue publication date: 24 May 2021

5169

Abstract

Purpose

Telecommuting from home is back up on the agenda as a result of the unforeseen challenges brought by COVID-19. Working from home permits to avoid disruption in the ordinary functioning of educational institutions triggered by social distancing. However, home-based telecommuting may have some side effects on employees, especially in terms of work-life balance. Soft Total Quality Management (TQM) initiatives are needed to address these side effects. The article intends to shed light on these issues, providing some food for thought to scholars and practitioners.

Design/methodology/approach

Secondary data about the working conditions of 2,046 people employed in the education sector across Europe were investigated. A serial mediation analysis was designed to examine the direct and indirect implications of working from home on work-life balance.

Findings

The study suggests that home-based telecommuting may trigger work-to-life and life-to-work conflicts, due to the blurring of boundaries between work and everyday life. Soft tools, such as organizational meaningfulness (OM) and work-related well-being (WB), mediate the relationship between working from home (HW) and work-life conflicts (WLC), lessening the negative implications of working from home on work-life balance.

Practical implications

The design and the implementation of home-based telecommuting arrangements should include a special concern for soft TQM practices. Among others, OM and WB are likely to minimize the disruption of remote employees' jobs and interpersonal relationships. Failure to do so impairs the ability of home-based employees to make sense out of their working arrangements and to achieve a sustainable work-life balance.

Originality/value

This is one of the first attempts to illuminate the side effects of home-based telecommuting and to investigate the role of soft TQM in addressing these side effects.

Keywords

Citation

Palumbo, R., Manna, R. and Cavallone, M. (2021), "Beware of side effects on quality! Investigating the implications of home working on work-life balance in educational services", The TQM Journal, Vol. 33 No. 4, pp. 915-929. https://doi.org/10.1108/TQM-05-2020-0120

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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