Academic journal article Journal of Behavioral and Applied Management

The Integrative Effects of Flexible Work Arrangements and Preferences for Segmenting or Integrating Work and Home Roles

Academic journal article Journal of Behavioral and Applied Management

The Integrative Effects of Flexible Work Arrangements and Preferences for Segmenting or Integrating Work and Home Roles

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Flexible work arrangements are being offered by an increasing number of organizations for recruitment and retention purposes. However, Person-Environment Fit theory (Edwards, 1996) suggests that flexible work arrangements may not be beneficial for all employees. This study examined the relationship of flexible work arrangement use with employee performance, affective commitment, and turnover intentions, while taking into consideration the moderating effects of employees' preferences for segmenting or integrating their work and home lives. The sample consisted of 172 employees from eight organizations in Ireland. Marginally significant effects for compressed workweeks were found. Implications for future practitioners and future research are discussed.

Introduction

Flexible work arrangements are intended to serve as a strategic tool to attract, retain, and motivate employees in the current business environment of increased competition and high demands on workers (Kropf, 1996; Olmsted & Smith, 1997). Such arrangements have also been advocated as a means of aligning individual and organizational objectives (Apgar, 1998; Ronen, 1984). Anecdotal evidence suggests that there are work-related benefits of flexible work arrangements, such as increased productivity (e.g., Catalyst, 1997; Di Martino & Wirth, 1990). However, although research dating back to the 1970s has examined the work-related benefits of flexible work arrangements (e.g., Hicks & Klimoski, 1981; Schein, Maurer, & Novak, 1977), a clear body of evidence of such benefits has not emerged.

Recent theoretical development on the boundaries between work and family roles (e.g., Ashforth, Kreiner, & Fugate, 2000; Clark, 2000, Nippert-Eng, 1996) may shed light upon the relationship between flexible work arrangements and work-related outcomes, such as employee performance, affective organizational commitment, and turnover intentions. Nippert-Eng's (1996) qualitative study explains what she refers to as "boundary theory" in the context of home and work. Based on extensive interviews and analysis, Nippert-Eng explains how individuals keep separate (segment) or intertwine (integrate) their work and home lives. For example, she provides examples of highly segmenting individuals who keep separate calendars for their work and home activities and who wear different clothes for their work and home roles. In contrast, she provides examples of individuals who combine work and home activities on one calendar and who wear the same type of clothes at home and work. Nippert-Eng (1996) proposes that segmentation and integration are opposite ends of a continuum. However, she suggests that most individuals combine segmenting and integrating practices, resulting in a more or less integrating/segmenting approach to work, rather than achieving the ideal type of segmentor or integrator (Nippert-Eng, 1996, p. 6). All types of flexible work arrangements allow for greater integration of work and home roles than the standard Monday through Friday "nine to five" forty hour work week. However, some flexible work arrangements allow for more integration than others. For example, when using flextime, an individual still may keep separate calendars for work and home activities, whereas a teleworker may benefit more from combining calendars since he/she may enter and exit the work and home roles several times each day. The present study examines whether preferences for integration or segmentation of work and home roles interact with the use of flexible work arrangements to affect work-related outcomes.

Flexible Work Arrangements

Flexible work arrangements allow for work to be accomplished outside of the traditional time and/or space boundaries of the standard workday. Although there is no truly "standard" day, in that hours and the location of work differ based on such categorizations as job type and organizational norms, a traditional work schedule is defined as a forty hour week, from 9:00 a. …

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