Date of Award:

1-1-1995

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Family, Consumer, and Human Development

Advisor/Chair:

Brent C. Miller

Abstract

Telework is an emerging trend in the workplace today. According to recent estimates, almost nine million Americans work electronically from home and this number is expected to grow 10% to 20% per year for the next decade. The purpose of this study is to explore the perceived influence of mobile telework on aspects of work life and family life. A group of mobile teleworkers and an equivalent group of nonmobile workers were asked to respond to questions about their work life and family life (N=299). The data were analyzed from four perspectives: (a) comparison of mobile teleworker and nonmobile groups, (b) comparison of mobile teleworker subgroups, (c) perceptions of mobile teleworkers themselves, and (d) thematic content analysis of write-in comments. Results from all four data perspectives pointed to the positive influence of mobile telework on most aspects of work life. The exploratory data suggested that productivity/job effectiveness, morale/organizational commitment, and customer relationships were all perceived to have been positively influenced by mobile telework. This perceived positive influence was particularly pronounced for mobile teleworkers who had a dedicated home office with a door. In contrast, the data pointed to a neutral or negative perceived influence of mobile telework on company relationships, especially camaraderie. Exploratory data about the perceived influence of mobile telework on aspects of family life were also generally positive. However, the strength of this perceived influence was less than the influence reported on aspects of work. Though mobile teleworkers reported much greater flexibility in the timing and location of work, they did not report having an easier time balancing work life and family life. In write-in comments, some mobile teleworkers reported they were thriving because of the flexibility to balance their lives. Others reported they were struggling because flexibility blurred the boundaries between work life and family life. Overall, the perceived influence of mobile telework on home chores/child care, family relationships, and personal factors was somewhat positive, but generally weak. Parents with preschool-aged children reported a more positive influence on these aspects of family life. From this exploratory study it appears that, on the whole, mobile telework can positively influence aspects of both work life and family life. However, there are also potential pitfalls which must be dealt with if a mobile telework program is to be successful. Sound program design and training for employees and leaders are seen as essential and some suggestions are offered. The study of mobile telework is in its infancy, and additional research is needed to understand bow this new work form may influence aspects of the work/family interface.

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