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Working Anywhere, Anytime: Work Flexibility from a Management and an Occupational Health Perspective


EAWOP Small Group Meeting 

Working Anywhere, Anytime: Work Flexibility from a Management and an Occupational Health Perspective
April 12th-13th, 2018, Leuven, Belgium

Abstract submission deadline: January 30th, 2018
Deadline working paper: April 5th, 2018

Organizing Committee:

Marijke Verbruggen (KU Leuven), Patrizia Zanoni (U Hasselt), Lynn Germeys (KU Leuven), Pascale Peters (Radboud University) and Yasin Rofcanin (University of Bath School of Management)

Conference Theme and Scope
The many ICT-evolutions of the past few decades (e.g., internet access everywhere, efficient online communication tools, affordable smartphones and laptops) have drastically affected the way we work, with opportunities to work anywhere, at any time becoming a reality for more and more workers.

A large group of studies has focused on flexible work arrangements, i.e., organizational work arrangements that allow workers more flexibility in where and/or when to work (e.g., telework and flexible hours). More and more organizations offer these flexible work arrangements as a way to motivate and retain employees (Beauregard & Henry, 2009; Casper & Buffardi, 2004; Leslie, Manchester, Park, & Mehng, 2012). Yet, despite the growing prevalence of flexible work arrangements in organizations, evidence suggests that these arrangements often remain underutilized, sometimes due to managerial resistance (Lembrechts, Zanoni, & Verbruggen, 2016; Peters, Den Dulk, & De Ruijter, 2010). Although some may perceive positive effects, such as engagement and work-related flow (Peters, Poutsma, Van der Heijden, Bakker, & De Bruijn, 2014), some employees who use them do not always experience the expected positive effects (Beauregard & Henry, 2009).

Another form of work across spatial and temporal boundaries which is rapidly gaining research popularity is work-related ICT use after hours or technology-assisted supplemental work (Duranová & Ohly, 2016). ICT has not only made many aspects of our jobs easier, it has also blurred the lines between different life domains (Boswell & Olson-Buchanan, 2007). This blurring of boundaries has enforced organizational regimes with excessive working hours (Peters, Den Dulk, & Van der Lippe, 2009), with negative effects on employees’ work-home balance and health (e.g., Kreiner, Hollensbe, & Sheep, 2009; Peters et al., 2009; Pfeffer, 2010; Ramarajan & Reid, 2013). It has become harder for many people to mentally detach and disengage from work outside work hours (Boswell & Olson-Buchanan, 2007; ?uranová & Ohly, 2016) and recover from work-related stress leading to higher work-home conflict, stress, sleep problems and even burnout (Duranová & Ohly, 2016; Sonnentag & Fritz, 2015). At the same time, other studies have rather pointed to some positive effects of work-related ICT use after hours, like reduced rather than enhanced work-home conflict (Derks, Van Mierlo & Schmitz, 2014, Derks, Bakker, Peters, & Van Wingerden 2016).

More recently, the more far-reaching forms of work flexibility in time and space ensuing from the mediation of work through online platforms have gained increasing attention (Briken, Chillas & Krzywdzinski, 2017; Lobel, 2016). Think for instance of the ride-sharing company Uber, which offers ‘driver-partners’ a platform to sell rides (Chen & Sheldon, 2015; Chen, Chevalier, Rossi & Oehlsen, 2017) and individual workers control as to when and how much to work. As research on this topic is in its infancy, little is known about the impact of such forms of flexibility (yet see Degryse, 2016; Silberman & Harmon, 2017).

Though there are clear links between these different foci of research on work flexibility, they all seem to remain somewhat disconnected research areas. Whereas research on flexible work arrangements generally starts from a management perspective and as such focuses on positive organizational outcomes which can be achieved by offering employees more flexibility, research on work-related ICT use after hours primarily applies an occupational health perspective and focuses on (health) risks associated with this behavior. Another difference lies in the methods. Whereas there are several diary studies on the topic of work-related ICT use after hours, studies on telework have hardly used that method even though people generally do not work from home each day. At the same time, research on these different forms of flexible work across time and space face similar challenges, such as little knowledge about the antecedents Shockley & Allen, 2010; Duranová & Ohly, 2016). In addition, we still do not fully understand why, for whom and under which conditions the various forms of work flexibility stimulate favorable or unfavorable outcomes on a short- as well as long-term basis.

In this small group meeting, we want to bring together research on various forms of flexible work across spatial and temporal boundaries in order to stimulate cross-pollination, identify mutual challenges and formulate an agenda for research on the topic. The small group meeting will welcome studies that address several topics, including but not limiting to:
• Which favorable and unfavorable organizational, health, career and/or family outcomes are related to different forms of work flexibility, both on a day-to-day and on a long-term basis?
• Under which conditions does work flexibility lead to favorable or unfavorable outcomes for whom?
• Is there an “optimal level” of flexibility? Is this level stable or rather variable across individuals and time?
• How are different forms of work flexibility related? For instance, does telework stimulates work-related ICT use after hours? And can insight on highly extreme forms of work flexibility enhance our understanding of more traditional forms of work flexibility, like telework?
• What are the antecedents of using work flexibility, at an individual, family and organizational level? How do the antecedents help understand variations in outcomes?
• How do individuals experience and negotiate with other stakeholders (family members, co-workers, superiors, et cetera) the boundaries between work and home?
• How do ICT technologies re-define the temporal boundaries of work and occupations? With which consequences on access to and status of the occupation?
• How are work-related ICT technologies re-defining the (gendered) division of labour in the household? With which consequences on men’s and women’s work-home balance?
• How do individuals make use of ICT-enabled flexibility signal commitment to their work and/or their organization? With which professional, health and/or family outcomes?
• Which novel methodologies could we use to better understand the impact of ICT on work/home and work-home balance?
• How does ICT-mediated work shape novel workers’ identities?

Keynote speakers
• Laura den Dulk, Department of Public Administration, ESBB, Erasmus University Rotterdam, approaches the topic of flexibility from a macro and meso perspective.
• Daantje Derks, Institute of Psychology, ESBB, Erasmus University Rotterdam, applies a micro perspective to the topic.

Conference format and fees: The EAWOP SGM will include approximately 20 to 25 scholarly presentations and sessions for discussion of future research collaboration. Attendance at the small group meeting is free. Tea, coffee and lunches are provided by courtesy of EAWOP sponsorship.

Submission of abstracts: Participants are invited to submit abstracts (up to 500 words) by 30th of January, 2018 to either as a MS Word or pdf document. Each abstract should contain the following information: a) title, b) names and affiliation of the author(s), c) aim of the study and d) how this study contributes to the aims of the small group meeting. Empirical papers should also contain information on the utilized method, the collected data (e.g. sample, measures), and the (preliminary) results. Conceptual papers should pose specific and unanswered questions and/or make specific and novel predictions. The abstract submissions will be blind reviewed by the organizing committee. Participants will be notified about the acceptance of their paper by 28th February, 2018.

Planned further valorization of submissions: Participants may be invited to contribute to a position paper to be submitted to the European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology. Upon confirmation of acceptance, the participants are kindly invited to consider submitting a working paper (up to 20 pages, times, font 12, double spaced) to by 5th of April, 2017. The organizers are actively seeking opportunities to publish selected papers (that can also be revised after the discussion during the small group meeting) in a special issue in a relevant journal. Other publication and dissemination activities will be discussed at the conference.

Contact person: Marijke Verbruggen;; Phone: +32 1 632 68 69