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“It is ok to be interrupted; it is my job” – perceptions on technology-mediated work-life boundary experiences; a sociomaterial analysis

“It is ok to be interrupted; it is my job” – perceptions on technology-mediated work-life... This study aims to explore how and why employees perceive technology-mediated interruptions differently and the role of sociocultural factors in this process using sociomaterial analysis.Design/methodology/approachData were gathered from 34 Sri Lankan knowledge workers using a series of workshop-based activities. The concept of sociomateriality is employed to understand how sociocultural elements are entangled with technology in work-life boundary experiences.FindingsThe findings of the thematic analyses suggest how culture is intertwined in the way employees perceive technology-mediated interruptions and how they manage information communication technologies (ICTs) to balance their work and nonwork demands. Participants have been unable to avoid technology-mediated boundary interruptions from work, as organisations have created norms to keep employees connected to organisations using information communication technologies. Traditional gender roles are specifically found to be entangled in employees' boundary management practices, disadvantaging women more.Practical implicationsThe findings highlight how national culture and gender norms create challenging work-life experiences for female employees than males. This could create a disadvantageous position for female employees in their career progression. It is crucial to consider factors such as boundary preferences and family concerns when deciding on family-friendly work policies. Also, organisations have to consider the development of explicit guidelines on after-hours communication expectations.Originality/valueUsing the lens of sociomateriality, researchers can understand the contextual entanglement of ICTs with national culture and gender norms in creating different work-life boundary experiences. It seems ICTs are creating a disadvantage for female employees when managing work–nonwork boundaries, especially in power distant and collectivist cultures where traditional gender norms are highly valued and largely upheld. This study also contributes to the current discourse on work-life boundaries by providing insights from non-western perspectives. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal Emerald Publishing

“It is ok to be interrupted; it is my job” – perceptions on technology-mediated work-life boundary experiences; a sociomaterial analysis

“It is ok to be interrupted; it is my job” – perceptions on technology-mediated work-life boundary experiences; a sociomaterial analysis


Abstract

This study aims to explore how and why employees perceive technology-mediated interruptions differently and the role of sociocultural factors in this process using sociomaterial analysis.Design/methodology/approachData were gathered from 34 Sri Lankan knowledge workers using a series of workshop-based activities. The concept of sociomateriality is employed to understand how sociocultural elements are entangled with technology in work-life boundary experiences.FindingsThe findings of the thematic analyses suggest how culture is intertwined in the way employees perceive technology-mediated interruptions and how they manage information communication technologies (ICTs) to balance their work and nonwork demands. Participants have been unable to avoid technology-mediated boundary interruptions from work, as organisations have created norms to keep employees connected to organisations using information communication technologies. Traditional gender roles are specifically found to be entangled in employees' boundary management practices, disadvantaging women more.Practical implicationsThe findings highlight how national culture and gender norms create challenging work-life experiences for female employees than males. This could create a disadvantageous position for female employees in their career progression. It is crucial to consider factors such as boundary preferences and family concerns when deciding on family-friendly work policies. Also, organisations have to consider the development of explicit guidelines on after-hours communication expectations.Originality/valueUsing the lens of sociomateriality, researchers can understand the contextual entanglement of ICTs with national culture and gender norms in creating different work-life boundary experiences. It seems ICTs are creating a disadvantage for female employees when managing work–nonwork boundaries, especially in power distant and collectivist cultures where traditional gender norms are highly valued and largely upheld. This study also contributes to the current discourse on work-life boundaries by providing insights from non-western perspectives.

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Sulakshana De Alwis, Patrik Hernwall and Arosha S. Adikaram
ISSN
1746-5648
DOI
10.1108/qrom-01-2021-2084
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This study aims to explore how and why employees perceive technology-mediated interruptions differently and the role of sociocultural factors in this process using sociomaterial analysis.Design/methodology/approachData were gathered from 34 Sri Lankan knowledge workers using a series of workshop-based activities. The concept of sociomateriality is employed to understand how sociocultural elements are entangled with technology in work-life boundary experiences.FindingsThe findings of the thematic analyses suggest how culture is intertwined in the way employees perceive technology-mediated interruptions and how they manage information communication technologies (ICTs) to balance their work and nonwork demands. Participants have been unable to avoid technology-mediated boundary interruptions from work, as organisations have created norms to keep employees connected to organisations using information communication technologies. Traditional gender roles are specifically found to be entangled in employees' boundary management practices, disadvantaging women more.Practical implicationsThe findings highlight how national culture and gender norms create challenging work-life experiences for female employees than males. This could create a disadvantageous position for female employees in their career progression. It is crucial to consider factors such as boundary preferences and family concerns when deciding on family-friendly work policies. Also, organisations have to consider the development of explicit guidelines on after-hours communication expectations.Originality/valueUsing the lens of sociomateriality, researchers can understand the contextual entanglement of ICTs with national culture and gender norms in creating different work-life boundary experiences. It seems ICTs are creating a disadvantage for female employees when managing work–nonwork boundaries, especially in power distant and collectivist cultures where traditional gender norms are highly valued and largely upheld. This study also contributes to the current discourse on work-life boundaries by providing insights from non-western perspectives.

Journal

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International JournalEmerald Publishing

Published: Dec 19, 2022

Keywords: Work-life balance; Boundary management; Technology; Sociomateriality; Power distance; Collectivism; Gender

References