* Apologies for cross posting *
Work from Home: Multi-level Perspectives on the New Normal
Editors: Payal Kumar (BML Munjal University, India),
Anirudh Agrawal (Flame University, India)
and Pawan Budhwar (Aston University, England)
Emerald Publishing Limited
The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown a spanner in the regular functioning of most organizations worldover. Firms have been compelled to take drastic measures including reducing manpower and production, while redesigning organizational processes and delivery. Work-from-home (WFH) is the new normal that has been adopted by organizations to navigate the Covid-19 crisis, whereby employees attend meetings on platforms like zoom, google, etc and manage work exigencies from their homes.
Prior to the pandemic, studies suggest that firms that had reduced full-time workers at offices saw their valuations go up as they saved on infrastructure costs and received higher brand visibility (Mulki, Bardhi, Lassk & Navaty-Dahl, 2009). During the pandemic WFH home is reported to have reduced commuting time, traffic jams and vehicular pollution, thus proving to be beneficial to sustainability (ILO & Eurofound, 2018). However, the other side of the coin is that some employees face work-life imbalance, loneliness and that organizational productivity is not always up to the mark (Unison Public Service Union, 2019; Deloitte, 2020).
WFH as the new normal during the Covid-19 pandemic offers an opportunity for deep academic inquiry (Deloitte, 2020), which we hope to take further in this edited volume. There are many areas to explore. How will firms survive and thrive in these tumultuous times? What types of organizations are best suited for WFH practices? Also how does WFH impact productivity, the employee-organizational relationship and work identity?
At the individual level there are many burning questions: What is the impact of WFH on employee motivation, work-life balance, employee engagement, amongst other factors? Van der Lippe and Lippényi's (2020) exhaustive cross-country study shows a negative performance in team productivity when multiple co-workers are working from home. Furthermore, WFH may have adverse implications on employee motivation, leading to burnout (Giurge & Bohns, 2020). There are potential conflicts between work and home (family life) from the organizational boundary theory perspective, which could reduce work productivity (Kreiner et al, 2009). While organizational boundary is one such theoretical frame, other theoretical frames that can be drawn upon include the resource-based view, institutional logics and transaction-cost-economics.
At the organizational level questions could be raised about the effects on the organizational bottom-line, organizational resilience and ability of organizations to remain innovative. Also, how can employees be managed in terms of mentoring, role modeling and also how can they effectively be monitored for purposes of appraisal reviews? Will organizational cultures be transformed? To sum up, how can organizations be redesigned and organizational resources be redeployed to enhance profitability, efficiency and innovation?
National-level comparative study on WFH practices among various EU nations by ILO and Eurofound (2018) makes the following observations. WFH is mainly dependent on organizations' use of technology, and those organizations that are fast movers in adopting technology tend to give greater choices of work-from-home to their employees. Technological breakthroughs have had strong impact on spatial characteristics of productivity (Shamir & Saloman, 1985). Mulki, Bardhi, Lassk and Navaty-Dahl in their 2019 study point out five challenges that would negatively impact the effectiveness of WFH and further suggest integration of technologies to reduce those five challenges. Technologies such as IoTs, Artificial intelligence and Big Data, specialized software and people management technologies in addition to advances in management science have enabled top management to reimagine innovation, productivity, core competitiveness and core-value proposition (ILO & Eurfound, 2018; Agrawal, 2018). But is it that simple - technology may not in fact be a panacea to all problems. How in fact are technologies changing the way employees engage in their work? How are organisations reimagining reskilling, organizational practices and boundaries?
In this context, we invite conceptual and empirical studies that explore the explore Individual, Organizational and Technological Perspectives on the New Normal. The following themes are indicative, but not exhaustive:
Indicative list of topics and research questions:-
1. How will organizations design, plan, control, lead, delegate and innovate while integrating WFH practices? How can we re-think organizations and organizing in the light of WFH?
2. What are the implications of WFH for employee motivation, diversity and inclusion, work-life balance in the short term and long term?
3. How do macro-factors such as culture, governments, market norms, regulations, and industries affect market and non-market approaches to the organizing, practices and productivity of WFH individuals and teams?
4. How do WFH activities affect the organizational and institutional culture and practices?
5. How does WFH vary across organizations (startups, MNCs, SMEs, family businesses), across cultures (North vs South) and across technology platforms (Amazon, Google)?
6. How would WFH impact employee learning and development, appraisal reviews, and compensation and growth? How best to monitor performance of employees WFH?
7. What happens to issues related to health and safety, insurance, legal rights of employees during WFH, especially frontline workers?
8. What might be the negative implications on employees (e.g., health and well-being issues) and for organisations (e.g., productivity, maintaining organizational culture etc)?
9. How will firms manage discretionary versus compulsory WFH policies and its impact on different outcome variables?
10. What sort of ethical issues need serious consideration if WFH becomes the new normal for more and more organizations?
11. What technological competencies are required to sustain WFH long-term? What are the impediments in terms of upskilling employees technologically?
12. Is there a 'best-practice' framework for WFH? If yes, then what its key components and requirements.
Agrawal, A. (2018). Incorporating Industry 4.0 in Firm Strategy. Academy of Management Global Proceedings 2018.
Deloitte. (2020). Remote Collaboration Facing the challenges of COVID-19. https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/de/Documents/human-capital/Remote-Collaboration-COVID-19.pdf
Giurge, L. M., & Bohns, V. K. (2020). 3 Tips to Avoid WFH Burnout. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2020/04/3-tips-to-avoid-wfh-burnout
ILO & Eurofound (2018). Working anytime, anywhere: the effects on the world of work. https://doi.org/10.1136/oemed-2018-icohabstracts.623
Kreiner, G. E., HOLLENSBE, E. C., & SHEEP, M. L. (2009). BALANCING BORDERS AND BRIDGES : NEGOTIATING THE WORK-HOME INTERFACE VIA BOUNDARY WORK TACTICS. Academy of Management Journal, 52(4), 704–730.
Kumar, P., Agrawal, A., & Budhwar, P. (2020). Human & Technological Resource Management (HTRM) : New Insights into Revolution 4.0 (P. Kumar, A. Agrawal, & P. Budhwar (eds.)). Emerald Group Publishing.
Mulki, J., Bardhi, F., Lassk, F., & Navaty-Dahl, J. (2009). Set up remote workers to thrive. MIT Sloan Management Review, 51(1), 63–69.
Shamir, B., & Saloman, I. (1985). This content downloaded from 18.104.22.168 on Fri. The Academy of Management Review, 10(3), 455–464.
Unison Public Service Union. (2019). Working Alone: A health and safety guide on lone working for safety representatives. https://www.unison.org.uk/content/uploads/2016/10/Working20alone.pdf
van der Lippe, T., & Lippényi, Z. (2020). Co-workers working from home and individual and team performance. New Technology, Work and Employment, 35(1), 60–79. https://doi.org/10.1111/ntwe.12153
Abstract submission: 30th September 2020 (Response to abstracts in 10 days).
Full paper: 28th February, 2021 (6000 to 8000 words, APA style)
Peer review process and revisions: Until 31st May
Book publication date: Early 2022
Please send your submissions to Payal Kumar: firstname.lastname@example.org
Prof. Payal Kumar
Professor & Chair (OB/HR),
& Associate Dean - International Affairs
BML Munjal University, India