Work from Home: Multi-level Perspectives on the New Normal

Cover of Work from Home: Multi-level Perspectives on the New Normal
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(14 chapters)

Prelims

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Section I: Individual Perspectives

Abstract

Since the dawn of modern technology, managers have long discussed the effectiveness of virtual work. While general trends have indicated increased acceptance of virtually working in recent years, the onset of the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic forced a majority of the world’s professional workforce to quickly embrace virtual work. Building upon previous research, this chapter suggests that virtual work is positively correlated with productivity. Using an online open survey, the study examined the extent to which sustained virtual work impacts perceived individual productivity, perceived organisational productivity, collaboration, job satisfaction, and connectedness over a 15-week period. Findings demonstrate that perceived productivity and connectedness were particularly high in the initial weeks, tapering downward as a function of time physically removed from co-workers. Job satisfaction remained largely unchanged and collaboration yielded no reportable trends. Managers reported more negatively than non-managers in all tested variables. Findings support more flexible working systems for employees in the future.

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of working from home (WFH), which contributed to widespread loneliness at a global level. Drawing on the theory of social exchange, this chapter examines how WFH, masculinity contest culture (MCC) at work, and co-worker support impact workplace loneliness. A theoretical model is developed, which adds to the scarce literature on workplace loneliness and MCC, while practical recommendations are also provided to enable organisational leaders and human resource practitioners to decrease workplace loneliness.

Abstract

This chapter examines how increased digitalisation shapes employee voice behaviour through informal digital channels. A growing body of literature found positive effects of employee voice on organisational outcomes, and companies are offering various formal and informal channels for employees to speak up. However, despite the vast literature on employee voice, research on the role of the voice channel is limited. With digital voice channels gaining popularity since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, investigating how the interaction of employees with communication technologies affects their willingness to speak up digitally is ever more important. To do so, the authors chose a qualitative research design with semi-structured interviews. Adaptive structuration theory (AST) guided the qualitative content analysis. Findings indicate that the shift from analogue to digital informal voice channels influences employees’ willingness to speak up. Despite an effort to mimic analogue face-to-face conversations through advanced technologies, employees perceive a missing spark when communicating digitally, which discourages them from speaking up through informal digital channels. In this chapter, the authors analyse which factors constitute the missing spark.

Abstract

The global pandemic has introduced a new normal as work–life integration (WLI) and work from home (WFH) have become a necessity rather than a nicety. This chapter explores the stories of women globally on WLI issues and offers a strategic framework for WFH that traces theoretical progressions while proposing a new perspective. This chapter is grounded in qualitative and phenomenological research, conducted by the Work–Life Integration Project, comprising findings from over 600 interviews collected from women around the world, including Costa Rica, India, Iran, Nigeria, Norway, Sri Lanka, Uganda, and the United States. These global narratives detail life experiences from childhood and adulthood to future goals using a life course methodology. A new best-practice framework emerged from these findings which provides tools for WLI and WFH: being whole, being innovative, and being real. These mechanisms stem from the evolution of work–life balance theory and practice, starting with Systems Theory, Life Course Framework, Life Stories and Gender Role, and Strategies for Life Balance. This chapter explores a new Life Integration Framework and how it may provide individuals worldwide with the knowledge and strategies necessary towards developing a more personalised ‘ideal’ and therefore increased hope and prosperity for the post-COVID world.

Abstract

Instructors had to adapt to the online teaching environment after the higher education institutions were closed due to the pandemic. The authors surveyed and interviewed instructors to understand how the quality of instructional technologies affected compatibility and psychological availability, which further affected their online teaching satisfaction and online teaching intention. The results showed that both information quality and service quality were positively associated with compatibility, while system quality was positively associated with psychological availability. Also, both compatibility and psychological availability were positively associated with online teaching satisfaction. Compatibility and online teaching satisfaction were associated with online teaching intention. The results from both open-ended questions and in-depth interviews provide support to the quantitative model and present a more complete picture of what instructors experienced during the lockdown.

Section II: Organisational Perspectives

Abstract

Teams with a deep understanding of how their roles serve the overall vision of the organisation can transition smoothly from an exclusively in-person office into a working from home (WFH) set-up, even when this needs to happen suddenly and in a disruptive external environment. At the same time, WFH, with all the flexibility that it does offer, does not appear to sufficiently allow for the informal levels of communication and ongoing iterative feedback required by team members to sustain shared leadership and actively co-shape strategy.

Shared leadership is achieved and maintained through the type of interaction between team members and the leader. In this case study, the team nurtures shared leadership and the leader demonstrates a readiness for it by effectively coordinating and leveraging networked synergies between various stakeholders as well as guiding and translating knowledge sharing and creation into informed actionable strategy with the team. The leader, on the one hand, is an integrated member of the team nurturing it and sharing leadership with it and, on the other hand, embraces a cockpit function which navigates this ‘sharedness’ with all relevant stakeholders.

Abstract

Women pursuing male-dominated careers face well-documented barriers to career success (e.g., stereotypes, sexual harassment, limited access to professional networks, and mentoring), which have the potential to be exacerbated or diminished by the increasing prevalence of work from home (WFH). In this chapter, the authors first review key career obstacles for women in male-dominated fields and analyse the impact of WFH on these barriers and, second, provide actionable strategies for organisations to implement WFH in a way that promotes rather than hampers the success of women in these fields. Both career obstacles and WFH remedies are considered through an overarching framework focussed on the significance of work–family boundary management, inclusion, and career advancement. Drawing on the extant research, the authors provide evidence-based, actionable guidance to help organisations and supervisors leverage WFH to support the career success of women in male-dominated careers.

Abstract

This chapter discusses how employee productivity may be enhanced by understanding the difference in fit between introverts and extroverts and their work environment. Research shows that neglecting to consider varied personality types of employees when designing characteristics of the physical workplace may hinder employee performance given that introverts and extroverts thrive in different work environments. Drawing upon the self-determination theory, the chapter makes a case on how allowing employees the autonomy to choose their work environment (work from home or work from office) will enhance their performance by empowering them in their preferred work setting. Finally, this chapter discusses strategies that may help accommodate how introverts’ and extroverts’ interface with the physical characteristics of their workplace, followed by a discussion on companies that are in the process of shifting to a hybrid work setting in acknowledgement of increased productivity because of work from home practices during the pandemic.

Abstract

As the world looks ahead to the possibilities of creating a new normal post COVID-19, organisations are examining the implications of extended remote work. A central piece here is redefining the organisational culture which has been impacted by a distributed workforce during this time. Many leaders have voiced concern over maintaining a strong organisational culture during this pandemic. This chapter reviews research that shows the relationship between remote work and organisational culture and its subsequent impact on key outcomes of interest, such as organisational identification, socialisation, knowledge sharing, employee turnover, and productivity. It also includes contingent conditions to examine the impact of multiple factors that moderate the relationship between remote work and organisational culture. These include social, technological, and normative conditions. Based on existing knowledge drawn from the experiences from voluntary as well as mandatory programmes for remote work, this chapter offers a model and propositions. This is followed by a set of research implications and practice guidelines for introducing an organisational culture that is consistent with the new reality of increased technological utilisation and altered workforce expectations.

Abstract

While a record number of employees work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, organisations are faced with a new demand for human resources (HR) policies and procedures in light of this emerging ‘new normal’. It is common for organisations to promote certain behaviours and norms as their cultures develop; however, this can often be significantly more challenging in times of uncertainty. As a result, the strategic and operational focus of HR managers can make a critical contribution to organisational effectiveness in times of crisis, especially when pre-existing policies and procedures are challenged by employees attempting to cope in an evolving reality. In this chapter, we seek to explain how the needs of the organisation, policy enforcement and changes by HR managers, and the behaviours of employees conflict and complement each other in an internal three-way tug of war among these actors. Organisational culture, strategic HR management, and self-determination theories are utilised to discuss implications for norm formation and culture from the top management team, HR managers, and employees during times of uncertainty. Recommendations for practice and additional avenues for research are presented to examine the cultural implications for organisations in the future.

Abstract

This study extends work from home (WFH) literature by recasting WFH performances that emphasise agents’ manipulation of scene. Drawing on the dramatist paradigm, the study uses Burke’s pentadic criticism to code the social media application Pinterest’s ‘work from home’ and ‘home office’ pinboards for act, agent, agency, scene, and purpose. Pinterest is a social media application that users post pins (images with verbal tags and link to external sites, especially blog sites) and collect pins by subject on an electronic pinboard, which other users can like, follow, and share. Analysis of WFH pins reveals that the agent–scene ratio saturates pins emphasising the agency of WFH agents to control their scenes or home office spaces. The idealism of the agent–scene ratio in pins further demonstrates an unrealistic approach to popular culture’s shift to WFH and a romanticisation of WFH as idyllic working conditions. Scripts for employees and employers are explored to equip them with the rhetorical resources to more closely align their agent–scene ideals with the scene–agent realities.

Abstract

In this chapter, the authors study work from home (WFH) and work from office (WFO) formats using institutional logic. Four start-ups in India have been studied using qualitative interview data reflecting their transition to WFH during the COVID-19 crisis and subsequent nationwide lockdown. Institutional logics is the framework drawn upon to enhance our understanding of the phenomenon. While conceptualising institutional logics in the context of WFH and WFO, the authors discuss the implications of WFH for both entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship. Finally, it is proposed that hybrid workspaces may be the way for the future.

Index

Pages 227-235
Content available
Cover of Work from Home: Multi-level Perspectives on the New Normal
DOI
10.1108/9781800716612
Publication date
2021-12-02
Editors
ISBN
978-1-80071-662-9
eISBN
978-1-80071-661-2