Category Archives: Flexible Work Arrangements

Supervision of Telework: A Key to Organizational Performance

Source: Taehee Kim, Lauren Bock Mullins, Taewon Yoon, American Review of Public Administration, OnlineFirst, Published February 10, 2021
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Many employers, including the federal government, have introduced or extended their telework arrangements because of the associated advantages, which include cost-efficiency, personnel pool enlargement, and employee well-being and motivation. Despite the continued interest from both academics and practitioners, little understanding has emerged about this work arrangement, with scant studies in public administration and organization literature. Among those studies, consensus has not been formed as to the organizational benefits, especially on performance or employee motivation. Previous studies have also overlooked the heterogeneous characteristics of teleworkers, the dynamics between teleworkers and nonteleworkers, and especially, the role of supervisors in managing telework to achieve proposed benefits. This study adds to previous literature by empirically examining the role of supervisors in managing/motivating teleworkers toward improving organizational performance, using data from the 2011 Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) Telework study. Findings suggest that supervision which includes results-based management and trust-building efforts improves performance of organizations that have telework arrangements.

A Post-Pandemic Antidiscrimination Approach to Workplace Flexibility

Source: Michelle A. Travis, Washington University Journal of Law and Policy, Vol. 64, 2021, Date Written: December 17, 2020

From the abstract:
The dramatic workplace changes in the wake of the global pandemic offer courts both an opportunity and an obligation to reexamine prior antidiscrimination case law on workplace flexibility. Before COVID-19, courts embraced an essentialized view of workplaces built upon a “full-time face-time norm,” which refers to the judicial presumption that work is defined by long hours, rigid schedules, and uninterrupted, in-person performance at a centralized workspace. By applying this presumption to both accommodation requests under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and to disparate impact claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, pre-pandemic courts systematically undermined antidiscrimination law’s potential for workplace restructuring to expand equal opportunities for individuals with disabilities and for women with disproportionate caregiving responsibilities. This Article demonstrates how employers’ widespread adoption of flexible work arrangements in the wake of COVID-19—including telecommuting, modified schedules, temporary leaves, and other flextime options—undermine these prior decisions and demand a new analysis of antidiscrimination law’s potential to advance workplace flexibility.

What Jobs are Being Done at Home During the COVID-19 Crisis? Evidence from Firm-Level Surveys

Source: Alexander Bartik, Zoe Cullen, Edward L. Glaeser, Michael Luca, Christopher Stanton, Harvard Business School Entrepreneurial Management Working Paper No. 20-138, June 2020
There are 2 versions of this paper

From the abstract:
The threat of COVID-19 has increased the health risks of going to an office or factory, leading more workers to do their jobs remotely. In this paper, we provide results from firm surveys on both small and large businesses on the prevalence and productivity of remote work, and expectations about the persistence of remote work once the COVID-19 crisis ends. We present four main findings. First, while overall levels of remote work are high, there is considerable variation across industries. The Dingel and Neiman (2020) measure of suitability for remote work does a remarkably good job of predicting the industry level patterns of remote work – highlighting the challenge of moving many industries to remote work. Second, remote work is much more common in industries with better educated and better paid workers. Third, in our larger survey, employers think that there has been less productivity loss from remote working in better educated and higher paid industries. Fourth, more than one-third of firms that had employees switch to remote work believe that that remote work will remain more common at their company even after the COVID-19 crisis ends.

From Face Time to Flex Time: The Role of Physical Space in Worker Temporal Flexibility

Source: Leroy Gonsalves, Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 65 no. 4, December 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Despite the great potential for flexible work policies to increase worker temporal flexibility—the extent to which workers control when and where their work tasks are completed—organizational scholars have found that employees rarely use them for fear of career penalties. This study sheds light on this flexibility paradox by drawing attention to the overlooked yet crucial role of physical space. Using 14 months of field research during an office redesign at a large professional sales organization, I find that a reconfiguration of physical space intended to reduce costs had the unintended consequence of disrupting taken-for-granted greeting practices, noticing practices, and evaluative beliefs. Changes to social practices led employees to feel less concern about trait inferences of dependability and commitment arising from their physical presence and to experience greater temporal flexibility. The findings contribute to a model in which the relationship between flexible work policies and temporal flexibility is moderated by the physical space. By identifying the physical space as a novel determinant of temporal flexibility, the study reveals the structural underpinnings of the flexibility paradox and more generally contributes to our understanding of how physical spaces structure social life in organizations.

Study Finds Productivity Not Deterred by Shift to Remote Work

Source: Roy Maurer, HR News, September 16, 2020

Recent research shows that the skepticism many companies had about working from home may be eroding. Ninety-four percent of 800 employers surveyed by Mercer, an HR and workplace benefits consulting firm, said that productivity was the same as or higher than it was before the pandemic, even with their employees working remotely…. Looking ahead, 83 percent of respondents said that even after the health crisis has passed, they plan to put more flexible work policies in place, such as allowing more people to work from home or letting them adjust their schedules….

Collective Sensemaking Around COVID-19: Experiences, Concerns, and Agendas for our Rapidly Changing Organizational Lives

Source: Keri K. Stephens, Jody L. S. Jahn, Stephanie Fox, Piyawan Charoensap-Kelly, Rahul Mitra, Jeannette Sutton, Eric D. Waters, Bo Xie, Rebecca J. Meisenbach, Management Communication Quarterly, Volume 34 Issue 3, August 2020

From the abstract:
Uncertainty is at the forefront of many crises, disasters, and emergencies, and the COVID-19 pandemic is no different in this regard. In this forum, we, as a group of organizational communication scholars currently living in North America, engage in sensemaking and sensegiving around this pandemic to help process and share some of the academic uncertainties and opportunities relevant to organizational scholars. We begin by reflexively making sense of our own experiences with adjusting to new ways of working during the onset of the pandemic, including uncomfortable realizations around privilege, positionality, race, and ethnicity. We then discuss key concerns about how organizations and organizing practices are responding to this extreme uncertainty. Finally, we offer thoughts on the future of work and organizing informed by COVID-19, along with a list of research practice considerations and potentially generative research questions. Thus, this forum invites you to reflect on your own experiences and suggests future directions for research amidst and after a cosmology event.

ollective Sensemaking Around COVID-19: Experiences, Concerns, and Agendas for our Rapidly Changing Organizational Lives
Source: Keri K. Stephens, Jody L. S. Jahn, Stephanie Fox, Piyawan Charoensap-Kelly, Rahul Mitra, Jeannette Sutton, Eric D. Waters, Bo Xie, Rebecca J. Meisenbach, Management Communication Quarterly, Volume 34 Issue 3, August 2020

From the abstract: https://doi.org/10.1177/0893318920934890
Uncertainty is at the forefront of many crises, disasters, and emergencies, and the COVID-19 pandemic is no different in this regard. In this forum, we, as a group of organizational communication scholars currently living in North America, engage in sensemaking and sensegiving around this pandemic to help process and share some of the academic uncertainties and opportunities relevant to organizational scholars. We begin by reflexively making sense of our own experiences with adjusting to new ways of working during the onset of the pandemic, including uncomfortable realizations around privilege, positionality, race, and ethnicity. We then discuss key concerns about how organizations and organizing practices are responding to this extreme uncertainty. Finally, we offer thoughts on the future of work and organizing informed by COVID-19, along with a list of research practice considerations and potentially generative research questions. Thus, this forum invites you to reflect on your own experiences and suggests future directions for research amidst and after a cosmology event.

Sensemaking Around COVID-19: Experiences, Concerns, and Agendas for our Rapidly Changing Organizational Lives
Source: Keri K. Stephens, Jody L. S. Jahn, Stephanie Fox, Piyawan Charoensap-Kelly, Rahul Mitra, Jeannette Sutton, Eric D. Waters, Bo Xie, Rebecca J. Meisenbach, Management Communication Quarterly, Volume 34 Issue 3, August 2020

From the abstract: https://doi.org/10.1177/0893318920934890
Uncertainty is at the forefront of many crises, disasters, and emergencies, and the COVID-19 pandemic is no different in this regard. In this forum, we, as a group of organizational communication scholars currently living in North America, engage in sensemaking and sensegiving around this pandemic to help process and share some of the academic uncertainties and opportunities relevant to organizational scholars. We begin by reflexively making sense of our own experiences with adjusting to new ways of working during the onset of the pandemic, including uncomfortable realizations around privilege, positionality, race, and ethnicity. We then discuss key concerns about how organizations and organizing practices are responding to this extreme uncertainty. Finally, we offer thoughts on the future of work and organizing informed by COVID-19, along with a list of research practice considerations and potentially generative research questions. Thus, this forum invites you to reflect on your own experiences and suggests future directions for research amidst and after a cosmology event.

Working Remotely: A Guide for the Public Sector

Source: Rob Roque and Elizabeth Fu, Government Finance Review, Vol. 30 no. 3, June 2020

While some state and local governments have allowed employees to work remotely for years, many are now being thrust into a remote work environment as a result of COVID-19 response. Employees who are used to easy access to physical resources are now faced with make-shift operations at home. These rapid transitions to remote work are proving their own challenges to public sector operations and technology requirements.

The following are key considerations for governments when supporting remote workers. Items were selected based on general public sector requirements. Consider your organization’s unique situations to establish a complete list of your own.

Working from Home: How We Managed Our Team Remotely with Technology

Source: Monica D. T. Rysavy & Russell Michalak, Journal of Library Administration, Vol. 60 no. 5, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the College’s library and the office of institutional research & training (OIRT), along with all departments of our college, shifted to working from home (WFH) overnight. This column shares examples from the literature regarding experiences and lessons learned from both the corporate world and academic libraries’ experiences managing teams remotely with technology. Finally, we share how the College’s academic library and OIRT transitioned to working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic with the variety of online tools we already used, but further enhanced during this experience, to communicate and collaborate effectively with our team members.

Remote Managers Are Having Trust Issues

Source: Sharon K. Parker, Caroline Knight and Anita Keller, Harvard Business Review, July 30, 2020

Covid-19 has thrust many leaders into remote management which requires a different skill set than face-to-face management. They have been forced to make this transition quickly, and for the most part, without training. While some jobs have proven adaptable, many sectors are not well-suited for the remote environment and many workers have home lives that present overwhelming challenges. As a result, some managers may be finding their roles more difficult than before — and making their subordinates’ lives more stressful as they struggle to adapt.

Even prior to the pandemic, managing teleworkers presented unique obstacles. Research shows that managers who cannot “see” their direct reports sometimes struggle to trust that their employees are indeed working. When such doubts creep in, managers can start to develop an unreasonable expectation that those team members be available at all times, ultimately disrupting their work-home balance and causing more job stress.

How the Coronavirus Pandemic Will Change the Way We Work

Source: Theresa Agovino, Susan Ladika, Lisa Rabasca Roepe, Joanne Sammer and Rita Zeidner, HR Magazine, Summer 2020

…To assist HR professionals in a post-coronavirus world, we asked HR practitioners and other experts what lessons have been learned during the pandemic and what lasting impacts it will have on the way we work. From remote work to health benefits, employee morale to disaster planning, HR professionals are determined to help their organizations forge a new way forward. …