After-hours availability expectations, work-related smartphone use during leisure, and psychological detachment: The moderating role of boundary control

Source: Christin Mellner, International Journal of Workplace Health Management, Vol. 9 no. 2, 2016
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From the abstract:
Purpose:
Modern working life is characterized by increased expectations for employees to be available to deal with work issues outside regular work hours and by using new communication technology. This implies more individual freedom in organizing work in time and space, but also places increased demands on employees to manage the boundaries between work and personal life. This, in turn, can be expected to be crucial to their ability to mentally detach from work during free time. The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether individual perceptions of boundary control moderate the impact of after-hours availability expectations and work-related smartphone use during off-work hours on psychological detachment

Design/methodology/approach:
The study population comprised 2,876 gainfully employed professionals from four large organizations in both the public and private sector, representing various businesses and occupations. Univariate correlations and multiple, linear hierarchical multiple regression analyses were performed.

Findings
High after-hours availability expectations, high frequency of work-related smartphone use, and low boundary control were associated with poor psychological detachment. Furthermore, boundary control moderated the relationships between both after-hours availability expectations and work-related smartphone use, respectively, and psychological detachment. As such, boundary control mitigated the negative effects of both after-hours availability expectations and work-related smartphone use during leisure on psychological detachment.

Practical implications
Modern work organizations would benefit from introducing availability policies and helping employees reduce their work-related smartphone use outside regular work hours, thus helping them achieve successful boundary control and subsequent psychological detachment.

Originality/value
In a working life characterized by blurred boundaries, employees’ ability to achieve boundary control can be regarded as crucial.