New Ways of Working Practices: Volume 16

Cover of New Ways of Working Practices

Antecedents and Outcomes

Table of contents

(8 chapters)

Prelims

Pages i-xxv
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Abstract

This survey study among 111 teleworkers in a bank organization investigated the relationship between telework intensity and individual productivity, and whether this relationship was mediated by employees’ intrinsic motivation. Also the moderating role of office hours in the model’s associations was studied. Based on the Job Demands-Resources Model (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007) and the professional isolation literature (e.g., Golden, Vega, & Dino, 2008), we developed and tested a set of hypotheses. Partly in line with expectations, we found a direct curvilinear relationship between telework intensity and individual productivity, characterized by a slight, non-significant positive association at the low telework intensity end, and a significant negative association for the high telework intensity end. Strikingly, we 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 study’s outcomes can inform management and HR practitioners to understand how to implement and appropriately make use of telework.

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Employees have gained increased flexibility in organizing their work in time and space, that is boundaryless work. Managing the boundaries between work and personal life would seem to be crucial if one is to psychologically detach from work during leisure in order to unwind and get sufficient sleep. Drawing from a sample of Swedish professional workers (N = 3,846), a theoretical model was proposed testing the inter-relationships between boundaryless work in time and space, weekly work hours, psychological detachment, sleeping problems and sleep duration using a structural equation modelling (SEM) analysis. Findings showed that working boundlessly in time, that is spread out during the working day and week, was directly associated with both long weekly work hours and lack of psychological detachment. In contrast, working boundlessly in space, that is at several different places, was inversely associated with weekly work hours and had no association with psychological detachment. Psychological detachment, in turn, was directly associated with sleeping problems and inversely associated with sleep duration. Sleeping problems were inversely associated with sleep duration. Employees with long weekly work hours had a low degree of sleeping problems. There was also no association between long weekly work hours and sleep duration. These findings contradict earlier research, however, we interpret these findings as that if one works a great deal but is able to mentally detach from work-related feelings and thoughts during free time, then sleep will not be hampered because perseverative cognitions associated with prolonged biological activation will have been interrupted. As such, psychological detachment can be regarded as the mechanism that mediates the relationships between working ‘anytime’ and long weekly work hours, and sleep. It was concluded 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.

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New Ways of Working seems to change the leadership agenda. Activity-based working and home-based work lead to different behaviors of employees. Supervising styles will change from command-and-control toward goal-setting-and-trust. This chapter describes the trend and provides new data on the actual use and effectiveness of these new supervision styles. It appears to be a mix of different leadership styles, such as leading by vision, setting targets and control on output, providing trust.

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New Ways of Working practices like activity-based working and home-based work lead to different behaviors of employees. Due to these NWW practices, employees choose their own preferred times and places to work – albeit to a certain extent and within certain boundaries. This might have an impact on the possibilities for teamwork. Therefore, we suppose that teamwork and teamwork behaviors might moderate the relationship between NWW and outcomes. Does teamwork behavior have an influence on the relation of NWW and productivity or organizational commitment? And how, is it a positive or a negative influence on these relations? This chapter reports the results of an explorative study on the relationship between NWW practices, teamwork behavior, productivity, and organizational commitment. Quantitative data from the questionnaire will illustrate the main issues: the complex linkages between the four components of NWW, the outcome variables, and the effect of different components of teamwork behavior. This chapter describes the issue of teamwork and provides new data on the actual use and effectiveness of the different components of teamwork behaviors.

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New ways of working (NWW) change some fundamental processes in the workplace. NWW practices like teleworking, flexible workspaces, and flexible working hours lead to different behaviors of employees. But does the employment of NWW practices also have an impact on the innovation behavior of employees? This chapter explores this relationship and uses qualitative data from case studies to illustrate the complex linkages between three components of NWW and IWB.

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For various reasons many organisations are currently introducing the new ways of working (NWW). By now, this occurs on such a large scale, that it becomes relevant to investigate whether the new way of working leads to the best way of working: are the measurements taken by NWW really resulting in pursued outcomes? NWW claims to make working more effective, efficient but also more enjoyable for the organisation as well as the employee (Bijl, 2007). In practice, it seems that more pragmatically reasons lead to changes in the way of working. In many cases this concerns the elimination of fixed workplaces, combined with the possibility to work from home or elsewhere, facilitation of working with new ICT, and establishing an organisational culture which aims at employee autonomy and goal attainment.

To answer the question whether the NWW approach offers sufficient tools to provide effective solutions for occurring objectives, we compare NWW with a scientifically established construct regarding work design: Sociotechnical systems (STS) (Kuipers et al., 2010). We chose STS not only because it is a comprehensive approach to work design (all aspects of managing and organising are addressed), but also because the ambition is similar to NWW. STS considers, next to the ‘quality of the organisation’ (which is central to most work design approaches), also the ‘quality of work’ and ‘quality of employment relationships’ as outcome criteria. With incorporating the latter two, STS distinguishes itself from many other work design approaches and fits to the philosophy of NWW as mentioned above. Important foundations for the NWW approach are the quality of work as well as the willingness to organise teamwork.

The comparison of NWW and STS reveals as most important finding that the NWW approach misses a coherent theoretical foundation for the design of organisations. NWW focuses on loose aspects of organisations, like workspace, work design, management, organisational 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 organisation (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 organisation and how work is organised and divided. It is our 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.

Simultaneously, the NWW practices provide so many relevant practical experiences on skills and information underlining the potential of STS. Currently, STS mostly is focused on work in industrial organisations. STS and NWW have the potential to mutually extend each other, while tools may be developed with which new ways of working lead to the best way of working for organisations.

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Based on seven chapters in this volume and a broader literature review, we present a research agenda where research challenges are identified with the relevant research questions. In the second place, this chapter presents the implications of NWW for HR, in particular the required competences for HR-professionals. We elaborate on several research questions that, in our view, help to address challenges to advance our understanding of NWW. The need for more theory-driven research is stipulated, including some possible directions for appropriate methods, such as configurational analysis. we argue that it is essential for HR-professionals to know the required HR-competences for managing and coaching those who are involved in NWW-practices. This chapter provides crucial insights for these competences.

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Cover of New Ways of Working Practices
DOI
10.1108/S1877-6361201716
Publication date
2016-12-16
Book series
Advanced Series in Management
Editor
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78560-303-7
Book series ISSN
1877-6361