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Managing work-life boundaries in the age of technology

Karina Lassen


Technology has blurred the line between work and non-work life. Communication and informational technologies like laptops, tablets, and smartphones enable workers to stay connected regardless of physical location and time of day (Kossek, 2016). Managing the boundaries between the work and home domain is not a new issue (Nippert-Eng, 2008), yet the increasing technological embeddedness in our everyday lives increases the complexity and relevance of these boundaries for both organizations and employees. Communication technology can in many cases give opportunities for more flexibility, autonomy, and control. Nevertheless, it might also exert a pressure on employees, breeding an always available culture in organizations (Kossek, 2016).

Leaders and managers set examples through their own behavior, which signal what is expected from the employees. Leaders who reply to and send emails during odd hours might contribute to the establishment of organizational norms that revolve around being available after hour and during off days.  However, whether or not this becomes a problem is dependent on individual differences, perceived control over boundaries and companies availability policy. This review will take a closer look at the different factors that influence the management of work-life boundaries and how technology influences this relationship.

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