Table of Contents
Theory and Derivation of Hypotheses
Definition of Key Terms and Concepts
Digitalization of the Workplace
Individual and Organizational Outcomes
Outcomes of the Digitalization of the Workplace
Outcomes of Work-Life Balance
Derivation of the Hypothesis and the Research Model
Method and Data
Data Collection and Measures
Beside huge organizational benefits, the advent of digital technologies leads to intensified work demands for employees. The nature of information and communication technologies (ICTs) used at work and in private life may lead to feelings of digital stress and conflict between demands of work and life domains. The perception of this conflict hampers work-life balance when people’s desire is separated work and life domains (work-life segmentation). This term paper empirically examines, whether the level of digitalization of the workplace influences employees’ satisfaction with work-life balance, via an online survey of employees in Germany. Results indicate that digitalization of the workplace, through intensified electronic tool use, is not critical for lower satisfaction with work-life balance. However, theoretical investigation shows negative impacts of the digitalization of the workplace on the work-life balance of employees and emphasizes these impacts’ alarming importance for organizations redesigning work for a more supportive work environment.
Keywords : digitalization of the workplace, digital stress, work-life balance, work-life segmentation
The Impact of the Digitalization of the Workplace on Work-Life Balance
The increasing and rapidly progressing digitalization in the 21st century pervades personal and working life. The advent of digital technologies transforms jobs and how and where work is done. This is bringing many opportunities for organizations, but also substantial risks and downsides, as the workload and stress profile for employees is massively changing (Gimpel, Lanzl, Manner-Romberg, & Nüske, 2018). Jobs and organizations need to be redesigned to leverage technology advantages while mitigating unintended or negative consequences (Colbert, Yee, & George, 2016). However, it is questionable whether organizations are fully aware of the bivalent nature of the use of technologies and its organizational influence. In particular, information and communication technologies (ICTs) achieved large progression in productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness of organizations’ employees (T. Ragu-Nathan, Tarafdar, B. Ragu-Nathan, & Tu, 2008). Amid such advantages, organizations may overlook unintended and unfavorable consequences of ICTs (Ayyagari, Grover, & Purvis, 2011). One consequence is that the “technology that keeps one constantly connected to work have intensified work demands for many employees” (Valcour, 2007, p.1512), e.g. the stress for employees caused by the use of mobile e-mail devices like smartphones (Barley, Meyerson, & Grodal, 2011).
Not only work demands, but also demands in other life domains like the family domain have intensified (Valcour, 2007). In addition, employees report blurring boundaries between work and life, promoted by digitalization. In a study in Germany by Edenred-Ipsos (2015), 74 % of employees reported repeatedly that they were claimed by work outside working hours. These developments show work-life balance at stake. And this is problematic as balancing life domains is “one of today’s central concerns for both individuals and organizations” (Valcour, 2007, p.1512). For individuals, work-life balance is an important career value. Organizations also benefit from a balance between work and employees’ other life domains as this balance comes with favorable attitudinal outcomes towards the organization increasing the organizational performance. Since employees’ satisfaction with work-life balance is greatly promising, organizations need to leverage their scope for creating a supportive work environment in order to effectively benefit from work-life balance of their employees (Valcour, 2007). For decisions on redesigning work, organizations require information about potential threats for employees’ work-life balance, such as potential negative relations between the workplace digitalization and employees’ perceived work-life balance. With the intention to shed light on these relations, only a few authors studied the impact of specific ICTs on work-life balance (Besseyre Des Horst, Dery, MacCormick, & J., 2012). Others researched the relation between digitalization of the workplace and cognitional constructs to work-life balance, like work-life conflict (Gimpel et al., 2018). However, as far as I know, the direct relationship between digitalization of the workplace at large and work-life balance has not been scientifically researched yet.
In light of this research gap and the ongoing changes of the workplace due to digitalization, this term paper should contribute to uncover possible relationships between the digitalization of the workplace and work-life balance of employees and shed light on potential unfavorable outcomes of digital technology use in the work context. Thus, the work-life balance of employees and the digitalization of the workplace are empirically examined here. This works seeks to answer the following research question in particular: Does the level of digitalization of the workplace influence employees’ perceived satisfaction with work-life balance ?
The rest of this paper presents key terms and concepts on the topic, the research model with the hypothesis, the methodology, and finally the results.