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Work attitudes and well-being among virtual workers

The present study examined how certain characteristics of flexible work, the home environment, and the individual impact the outcomes of work-family conflict, job satisfaction, organisational commitment, and psychological strain. A questionnaire measuring perceptions of control, flexibility, job involvement, family involvement, work to family and family to work conflict, organisational commitment, job satisfaction, family support, physical boundaries, workplace isolation, psychological strain, personality, and demographic information was created and posted online. An email was circulated to 390 virtual sales employees from one large organisation in the United States inviting them to participate in the study, and 278 people responded. Results identified characteristics of the type of work, work enivronment, and the individual that are predictive of individual and organisational outcomes. Findings supported hypotheses that control, flexibility, and family support positively impact the outcomes of conflict, satisfaction, and strain for virtual workers. Job involvement was found as predicted to positively impact work to family conflict, and family involvement was positively related to family to work conflict. Contrary to predictions, a negative relationship was found between job involvement and strain, suggesting that those who identify more highly with their job also experience less strain. Consistent with earlier studies, workplace isolation was associated with reduced job satisfaction and organisational commitment (Marshall, Michaels, and Mulki, 2007). In line with boundary theory (Voydanoff, 2005), it was hypothesised that the presence of physical boundaries between work and non work domains would significantly impact measures of conflict and strain for virtual workers. However, results indicated no significant effects. A comparison of perceptions of work-family conflict between individuals with children at home and those without illustrated no significant differences between employees with children at home and those without. Speculated explanations for inconsistent findings are addressed in the discussion chapter. Work to family conflict was predicted to mediate the relationship between flexibility and job satisfaction for virtual workers, and analysis supported the presence of partial mediation. Family to work conflict was also predicted to mediate the flexibility and job satisfaction relationship, however, results were not significant in this case. Uses of workspace (i.e. for work, leisure, family activities, etc.) were tested as mediator for the relationship between family to work conflict and job satisfaction, and results did not support a mediation effect. In sum, findings of this study identify sources of both positive and negative outcomes for people working from home. Although individuals' experiences working virtually differ greatly, this study identifies common challenges and issues they face. By pinpointing the sources of conflict, satisfaction, commitment, and strain in the home office, organisations and individuals can take steps to protect workers against negative outcomes, and maximise positive outcomes. Implications and limitations of this study are discussed in the final chapter.
Type of thesis
Witzel, M. (2008). Work attitudes and well-being among virtual workers (Thesis, Master of Science (MSc)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/2450
The University of Waikato
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