“Does Working From Home Work Out?”
“The Positive and Negative Effects of Working From Home on Employees’ Job Satisfaction and Work-Life Balance, moderated through Perceived Organizational Support.”
Name student: Fien Brinkman Student number: 13396099
Date: 26th of August, 2022
Study: MSc Business Administration: Leadership and Management Track, University of Amsterdam – Amsterdam Business School
Supervisor: Dr. Wendelien van Eerde Second Reader: Maarten de Waas
Statement of Originality
This document is written by Student, Fien Brinkman, who declares to take full responsibility for the contents of this document.
I declare that the text and the work presented in this document is original and that no sources other than those mentioned in the text and its references have been used in creating it.
The Faculty of Economics and Business is responsible solely for the supervision of completion of the work, not for the contents.
I am indebted to Dr. Wendelien van Eerde for her guidance, for her honest and valuable feedback and for the nice conversations we had throughout the entire process. I also thank my family, boyfriend and my dear friends and who helped me to stay motivated and positive, even in times of stress.
The effects of working from home can be questioned in the post-pandemic context. Positive as well as negative effects of working from home are found in recent research and therefore result in contradicting statements. Within the current post-pandemic context, we will investigate the effects of working from home on employee job satisfaction and work-life balance. Based on the literature we propose two directions of this research. On the one hand, the working from home challenges, which indicate the negative relationship between working from home and job satisfaction and work-life balance, through the mediating variables of procrastination and workplace inclusion. On the other hand, the working from home opportunities, that showcase the positive relationship through the mediating variables of job autonomy and commuting time.
We test our moderated mediation model through a quantitative study with 274 participants.
The findings show that hybrid working was positively related to work-life balance. However, the mediating models were not supported, therefore the explaining effects remain unknown.
The full mediated moderation models were not supported, meaning that perceived organizational support was not found to be a significant moderator within these relationships.
The research contributes to the working from home literature, especially in the post-pandemic context. It highlights the importance of hybrid working and work-life balance and presents benefits of applying this to the practical environment. Finally, this study can be seen as a starting point for future research on the topic of working from home.
Keywords: Working from home, job satisfaction, work-life balance, COVID-19, pandemic, procrastination, workplace inclusion, job autonomy, commuting time and perceived
Table of Contents
Statement of originality... 2
Acknowledgements ... 2
Abstract ... 3
List of Tables and Figures... 5
Introduction ... 6
Literature review ... 10
Working from Home ... 10
Working from Home and Job Satisfaction ... 11
Working from Home and Work-Life Balance ... 13
1. Working from Home Challenges ... 15
1.1 Mediating Role of Procrastination ... 15
1.2 Mediating Role of Workplace Inclusion ... 17
2. Working from Home Opportunities ... 19
2.1 Mediating Role of Job Autonomy ... 19
2.2 Mediating Role of Commuting Time ... 20
Moderating Role of Perceived Organization Support ... 21
Data and Method ... 25
Participants ... 25
Procedure ... 27
Measures ... 27
Analytical Plan ... 29
Descriptive statistics and correlations ... 30
Hypothesis testing... 33
Post hoc analysis ... 38
Discussion ... 39
Summary of results ... 39
Theoretical implications ... 41
Managerial implications ... 43
Strengths, Limitations and Future Research ... 44
Conclusion ... 46
References ... 48
Appendices ... 65
List of Tables and Figures
Table 1. Overview Demographic Variables
Table 2. Means, Standard Deviations, Correlations Table 3. Mediation Analyses
Table 4. Direct and Indirect Effect on Job Satisfaction Table 5. Direct and indirect effect on Work-Life Balance Table 6. Moderated Mediation Analysis, Moderation Effect on
Table 7. Moderated Mediation Analysis, Moderation Effect on Work-Life Balance
Figure 1. Conceptual Model
Does working from home work out? It is the controversy of the century: working from home. Most of us have experienced the work from home habits, either rushing to a zoom call minutes before the start of an online meeting, or telling someone to unmute themselves (multiple times). These habits started in the beginning of 2019, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and changed the way we work drastically. As a result, organizations are standing at a historical crossroad, deciding what to do with the lessons learned during this pandemic. In the last couple of years, renewed interest has emerged in studying the effects of working from home (Wang et al., 2020). As organizations look to the post pandemic future, new working from home policies must incorporate these lessons learned during the pandemic. Looking at the recent facts, employees agree so too, since 76% of European employees are worried that the employer will take workplace actions they don’t agree with when it comes to working from home (Labs 2022).
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, working from home was not known as a common practice (Kossek & Lautsch, 2018). Although the number of employees that were allowed to work elsewhere besides the office grew in the Netherlands over the last years, it was only 14%
of the total workforce (Statistia, 2022). It becomes clear that due to the pandemic there was a fast growth in the frequency of working from home, resulting people more regularly working from home instead of sporadically. In addition, it becomes clear that the essence of who can and is allowed to work from home has changed. What once was known to be privileged to a select group of working people is now, forcefully, accepted by many, however not all, organizations.
Previous research focused on either the positive side of working from home, or the negative side. This research aims to clarify the explaining factors between working from home and job satisfaction and work-life balance. Therefore, the positive and negative effects are analyzed together in one research, with the moderating effect of perceived organizational support.
The effects of working from home on job satisfaction contain contradicting outcomes.
On the one hand, employees state that working from home creates more flexibility and autonomy as they have more time to schedule the day partially to their liking, which results in positive emotions and therefore increase their job satisfaction (Vyas, 2022). Employees also did not need to travel as much as they used to, resulting in more time to spend on activities they appreciate (Amponsah-Tawiah et al., 2016). In contrast, other scholars state that working from home decreases job satisfaction, due to the low face-to-face interactions, social isolation,
feeling of exclusion and distractions (Bailey, 2022). For example, one research states that it improves the productivity and job satisfaction of employees due to fewer office distractions (Nakrošienė et al., 2019) While others claim that working from home creates more distractions, such as procrastination and cyber slacking (Ferrari, 2021). One thing employees do agree on (94% of European employees) is the fact that employers and managers should take action to ensure the employee satisfaction (Labs, 2022).
In the last couple of years, researchers also found inconsistent results with employee work-life balance when analyzing the consequences of working from home (Dwidienawati et al., 2020; Irawanto et al., 2021; Susilo, 2020). As it could lead to a greater blend of work and family roles (Sullivan & Lewis, 2001), others state it could lead to overworking and taking your work “home”, physically and mentally (Felstead & Henseke, 2017). Having psychological resources and support help with the ability of having control over your work life and setting clear boundaries, which in turn leads to a positive relation to work-life balance.
Perceived organizational support is seen as one of the most important factors related to job satisfaction and work-life balance when working from home, as the need for this support increased, due to insecurities, stress and anxiety (Sun, 2019). When employees do feel supported by the organization, they feel helped and enable coping mechanisms for negative working traits, such as procrastination. In addition, employees will experience a fulfillment of their own need for respect, approval and consideration, stimulating their perceived workplace inclusion (Grigg et al., 2013). Moreover, it strengthens the relationship of the employees need for autonomy, since communal trust is present between the organization and the employee (Gagné and Deci, 2005).
During the pandemic, many employees and employers changed their regulations, practices and their way of working. Organizations had to make quick decisions, most of the time based on minimal evidence and research (Dirani et al., 2020). Nevertheless, management scholars followed quickly by researching the effects of the unprecedented outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the current time frame of 2022, it seems like we are in calm waters regarding COVID-19. Hence the reason why we should care to conduct this study at this time.
Since almost none of the studies was conducted in the post-pandemic context and multiple researchers stated contradicting results of the effects of working from home, the organizations might lack knowledge of what is good for the employees in this context. At least, we need to investigate how the employees experience the current working from home policies and define
contribute to the limiting literature on this topic by examining the explaining factors within the relationship of working from home and job satisfaction and work-life balance and the influence of the moderator of perceived organizational support. More explicitly, this research intends to answer the following research question:
“Does working from home influence the level of employees’ job satisfaction and work- life balance, such that it is negatively mediated through workplace inclusion and procrastination and positively mediated through job autonomy and commuting time?”
Figure 1 demonstrates the proposed theoretical framework of the hypotheses that are examined in the current study.
This study aims to contribute to the working from home literature in three aspects. First, it adds specific context due to the COVID-19 pandemic lessons learned and the implementation of HR policies regarding the future of work. Second, to the best of our knowledge, this study is the first one research that researches the explaining factors of the experiences job satisfaction and work-life balance. Third, it highlights the importance of the organizational support perceived by the employees and shows how organizations can contribute to a positive working from home experience. With this research, insights can be drawn on why employees experience a change in job satisfaction and work-life balance.
By applying both perspectives into our investigation on working from home practices, we expect to gain more knowledge on the specific characteristics that either make working from home a positive or negative experience for the employees, so that organizations and managers can anticipate and focus on these characteristics. Through the powerful role of perceived organizational support, we hope to shine light on the organization’s position in deciding on a specific regulation tactic and effect of doing so. In the upcoming sections, we shortly dive into the existing literature about the effects of working from home and job satisfaction and work-life balance through procrastination, workplace inclusion, job autonomy and commuting time. We then highlight the influence of perceived organizational support.
Followed by presenting our method research to explore if these effects have an influence in the unique post-pandemic context. Finally, we discuss the theoretical and practical implementations of our research that go beyond the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.We end with the suggestios for futher research.
H2a & H2b
Figure 1: Conceptual model with hypotheses. WFH means working from home
Work-Life Balance Working
H1a & H1b Procrastination Workplace Inclusion
H9a H9b H4a
As mentioned before, this chapter contains an overview of the literature on working from home, job satisfaction and work-life balance. Working from home challenges are identified through the mediating variable procrastination and workplace inclusion. The working from home opportunities are exposed through the perceived job autonomy and commuting time. The moderating variable of perceived organizational support is the final variable within the literature review. Each section includes a set of hypotheses and analyses what has already been done and how our research contributes to the existing literature.
Working from Home
This era of information communication enables us to stretch the location of work to other venues besides the office. The event of the COVID-19 pandemic created an even faster transition for organizations and employees to use this technological advantage as a tool to complete the work, elsewhere and anywhere. Working from home is a result from the advancements of the capabilities of those technologies, resulting in larger availability of high- speed internet (Wang et al, 2021). Due to the various words used within the domain remote work, telework, work from home, flexible workplace, virtual work- literature, we focus on the term working from home. Thus, the current study will focus on employees who had to work from home and defines this as: “Work from home or WFH is a concept where employees can do their job from home using company approved assets, policies and tools (MBA, 2022).
However, working from home was not always as popular as it is today. In Europe, only 2 percent of employees teleworked mainly from home in 2015 (Eurofound, 2017). Back then working from home was mostly viewed and defined as the possibility to work remotely for some days of the week (Golden, 2011). It was known to be a luxury for the relatively affluent (Desilver, 2020) such as white-collar workers (managers, executives and professionals) and higher-income earners. During the pandemic, nearly 50% of Europeans worked from home (at least partially) as compared to the 12% prior to the emergency (Galanti et al., 2021).
The pandemic also affected the labor market. People who were initially never able to work outside the office, suddenly became remote workers. The pandemic affected occupations and segments of the labor market differentially (ILO, 2020). White-collar in particular have been affected by the pandemic, experiencing significant changes in working practices (Yvas, 2022). By contrast, blue-collar (manual labor) workers have largely remained unchanged outside of social distancing and related health measures. However, the impact of their work
was different, as blue-collar workers faced more vulnerability, as they most of the time had no alternative safer option than to just go to work, even when it could be a danger for themselves or to other, making the pandemic an inequality crisis too.
COVID-19 and its consequences forced organizations and its employees to drastically change their way of working. Millions of people across the world had to become remote workers, leading to a forces global experiment of working from home (Kniffin et al., 2021).
The arrival of the global pandemic created new opportunities for research, since research on working from home has solely been in context in which employees were hired, chosen, or privileged in their positions, to work in such environments (Galanti et al., 2021). In contrast to previous studies, mostly focusing on part-time “work-from home” employees (de Vries et al., 2018; Filardi et al., 2020, Golden, 2006; Golden & Veiga, 2008; Illegems & Verbeke, 2004), including full-time “work-from-home” employees and full-time office employees might provide different results because getting “the best of both worlds” has not been possible for many employees since early 2020 (Chong et al., 2020). This unusual, or already usual, situation asks for a further development of the existing research on working from home. As Wang et al., (2020, p. 18) explain “there is a need to shift the research focus from understanding whether or not to implement working from home policies to understand how to get the most out of remote working/working from home”. Therefore, the explaining variables must be researched to establish the positive and negative challenges of working from home.
Working from Home and Job Satisfaction
Job satisfaction is defined as an emotional state which is mostly positive and pleasurable when evaluating the experience of a person’s job (Locke, 1976). The importance of high job satisfaction can be explained through the fact that it is one of the key indicators for positive mental health at work (Lombardo et al., 2018, Zaniboni et al., 2016). Moreover, job satisfaction derives from a subjective comparison by the individual of the actual work situation with the expected one (Hünefeld et al., 2019).
However, understanding job satisfaction can be difficult, since it is an extremely complex concept, influenced by many factors and their groups. Therefore, job satisfaction is key factor in the context of the efficient functioning of contemporary organizations. For this reason, a central aspect of the organization’s research are the factors that affect employee satisfaction in the workplace, such as the effect of working from home. The most important
determinant of this satisfaction include physical working conditions, behavioral characteristics, social relationships, possibility of open and direct communications (Moline-Hernándex, 2021).
There is a mixed belief about whether working from home positively or negatively influences employees’ job satisfaction. In this paper we examine both sides in order to capture the future outlook of working from home more. Specifically, employees reported that working from home created more flexibility and autonomy as they had more time for work due to saved travel-time and could decide when and how they wanted to work (Golden, 2006; Illegems &
Verbeke, 2004; Torraco, 2005). The meta-analysis of Charalampous et al. (2019) gives a detailed insight on the remote work phenomenon states that remote work is responsible for workers’ positive emotions, to increase their job satisfaction and organizational commitment and to ameliorate their feelings of emotional exhaustion. With this, employees feel more autonomous.
On the other hand, some research found that telework is related to many negative aspects that, in turn, decrease job satisfaction. Research shows that employees who work from home experience problems due to poor technological infrastructure, technology skills, development, motivation, supervision and increased social isolation and psychological problems, which in turn decreases the job satisfaction (de Vries et al., 2019; Filardi et al., 2020;
Golden & Veiga, 2008). Furthermore, since remote work includes less face-to-face interaction and increases social isolation, employees face lower degrees of communication, relevant information sharing and discussion quality (Lowry et al., 2009). The lower levels of (social) interactions reduce the employees’ job satisfaction (Cooper & Kurland, 2002). Consistent with the previous literature, social support and job autonomy, as job resources, help employees to deal with challenges during working from home and therefore result in a higher job satisfaction (Wang et al., 2020). In addition, the relationship between remote work and job satisfaction is also mediated through the levels of trust supervisors provide to their employees (Bulińska- Stangrecka & Bagieñska, 2021). This relationship also held ground before the pandemic and during the pandemic.
However, as Golden (2006) explains by stating that there is curvilinear relationship between remote working and job satisfaction, in such that it tends to increase job satisfaction, but only to a certain extent. After this particular limit, the job satisfaction seems to decrease.
When employees reach higher levels of remote work – 15.1 hours per week, job satisfaction begins to level off and slightly decrease before it flattens out.
Some findings appear to be unique to the pandemic context. First, previously scholars researched that remote working could provide employees with the autonomy to alleviate work- family conflicts (Gajendran & Harrison, 2007). Recent research shows that remote workers are struggling with work-home interference as a major challenge and that this cannot be mitigated by job autonomy (Wang et al., 2020). Second, procrastination is seen as one concrete challenge in working from home, since can increase the perceived levels of stress of employees. Third, loneliness is an important challenge among remote workers during the pandemic. This is in line with previous research, as it is explained through the decrease of-face-to-face interactions.
However, recent research shows that online interactions are not necessarily sufficient for reducing loneliness and that employees are not satisfied of the quality of online social interactions due to the restricted “intimacy” and closeness”.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of employees forcefully had to work from home, blending the workspace together with the home space. An opportunity for researchers to dive into the “new normal” of remote work and provide valuable insights. This new environment might depict the reality of remote workers and show new results. Workers and companies’ attitude towards remote work, as an obligatory workplace, is modified during this period. Some scholars believe that the pandemic will make some jobs permanently remote (Sytch & Greer, 2022). In addition, when employees do not choose remote working, their lack of preference or resources might mean that working from home creates a significant challenge and therefore impacts the job satisfaction and productivity (Wang et al., 2020).
Hypothesis 1a: Working from home is positively related to job satisfaction.
Hypothesis 1b: Working from home is negatively related to job satisfaction.
Working from Home and Work-Life Balance
Another valuable outcome of working from home is its influence on the work-life balance. Work-life balance is to be defined as “the individual perception that work and nonwork activities are compatible and promote growth in accordance with an individual’s current life priorities (Kalliath & Brought, 2008, p 326). Regarding the current context, some researchers emphasize the positive working from home effects on work-life balance, as it leads to greater integration between work and family roles (Dubrin, 1991, Sullivan & Lewis, 2001).
On the other hand, others claim that it intensifies the conflict by increasing the permeability of
life at the end of the day (Felstead & Henseke, 2017). Moreover, Glass and Noonan (2016) argue that working from home is not helpful in reducing work-family conflicts.
This research suggests that work-life balance is aligned with the CoR theory, which the psychological resources that can be capitalized at work and result in enhanced work outcomes.
Examples of those potential resources are self-esteem, having control over life and the ability to organize tasks. In turn, this results in higher level of confidence, control and esteem that results in a beneficial effect on balance and work (Haar & Brougham, 2020).
Interestingly, Haar and Brougham (2020) mention that this balance does not simply imply equality of time but more how a person assesses their successful achievement of balancing multiple roles. In addition, Barnett and Hyde (2001) strengthen this by saying that the number of roles an employee engages in does not matter, however their ability to manage these roles; that is captured by work-life balance. Relating this to the context of COVID-19, employees had to take-on numerous numbers of roles. You had to be able to be a babysitter, step-in teacher, partner and employee at the same time, sometimes even in the same moment.
The ability of managing the various roles in a post-pandemic context has not been researched yet.
An assumption in the remote work literature has been that flexibility in timing and executing of task enhances employees’ perception of autonomy, which improves remote workers work-life balance (Allen & Shockley, 2009; Beigi et al., 2018). Moreover, the positive elements of working from home result in employees having flexible working hours which results in more family time. In addition, some scholars state that it increases their productivity (Yvas, 2022).
In the contrary, literature states that working from home results in more distractions in and around the home office. Having these distractions can cause an increase of intensification and workload. Intensified housework and childcare negatively influence remote worker’ ability to concentrate on work-related tasks and imposed additional demands on working parents, leading to experiences of work-family imbalance (Burk et al., 2021, Del Boca et al., 2020;
Minello et al., 2020).
Looking at the division of household roles during the shift of working from home, most of the additional housework during the pandemic was still handled by women (Ayuso et al., 2020), while men assumed increased responsibilities at home, especially regarding childcare.
Mothers participating in the reviewing studies reported dissatisfaction with the division of the housework during the pandemic (Craig & Churchill, 2020). This also adds to the potentially
reinforcement of traditional gender roles in the workplaces and households (Smithson &
Organizations are currently implementing new working from home policies, stating that their employees can work X days at home, or fully at home, or completely at the office. The meta-analysis by Shirmohammadi et al. (2022) states that organizations should offer remote work as an option and should not oblige fully remote or fully from the office to their employees.
In addition, they mention that the organization should provide support and training to their employees with regards to working from home and work-life balance. If not working from home can lead to work-life (im)balance or other (un)expected outcomes for home workers.
While the work-life balance research field is still growing, there have been calls for development (Haar & Brougham, 2020). As the CoR theory implies, it is the psychological resources that determine and create the work-life balance. Therefore, in the upcoming chapters the focus will be on these explaining factors. For now, the second hypothesis is formed, namely:
Hypothesis 2a: Working from home is positively related to work-life balance.
Hypothesis 2b: Working from home is negatively related to work-life balance.
1. Working from Home Challenges
As mentioned above, the rapid shift of working from home created new challenges for organizations. To clarify upon the discrepancy of the positive and negative factors influencing job satisfaction and work-life balance in the domain of working from home, the various mediators derived from literature. For the working from home challenges, procrastination and workplace inclusion resulted.
1.1 Mediating Role of Procrastination
A recent meta-analysis research mentions that remote work should be accompanied by adequate workspace at home. If this is not the case, employees will be distracted easily (Shirmohammadi, 2022).. Correct physical conditions are key to employees’ successful adjustment to remote work and to their work-life balance (Akuoko et al., 2021; Carillo et al., 2021; Craig 2020). During the extreme situation of stay-at home order, where households’
activities were predominantly confined to the home, space limitations became a challenge for
Although workers had the flexibility to work from home, not all employees had the privilege to have a designated space designed for their work practices, away from distractions and that had enough space to manage work. Having a space that takes you away from distractions is vital for employees’ satisfaction with remote work, work-life balance and well-being (Shirmohammadi, 2022).
These distractions are more frequently visible compared to the office and as a result they could lead to more procrastination. Procrastination has many faces, serving in many contexts. For this research, procrastination at work is defined as “delay of work-related action by engaging in non-work-related actions, with no intention of harming the employer, employee, workplace, or client and can be characterized by two dimensions; namely soldiering and cyberslacking (Metin et al., 2016). Soldiering refers to those behaviors in which employees explicitly avoid work-related activity without wanting to harm others or shift work on fellow co-workers (taking longer coffee breaks, cleaning office space) (Kose & Metin, 2018).
Cyberslacking refers to as the usage of internet of mobile technology for personal purposes (Vitak et al., 2011). Procrastination in the context working from home has often been researched together with cyberslacking since employees who are high on procrastination will most likely find the internet to be a distraction when they feel urges to put off work. This is since procrastination is strongly related to both impulsiveness and boredom proneness (Steel, 2007).
Procrastination is a common habit in the office-based workplace; however, it can become even worse when people work from home (Kühnel et al., 2016, Wang et al., (2021).
This is because employees struggle with self-regulation failure. The study of Wang et al., (2021) indicates that the participants delayed their working on the core tasks via spending time on non-related activities during working hours, such as using social media and having long breaks.
Earlier studies indicate that procrastination at work is a problematic behavior.
Numerous scholars found that procrastination at work is associated with low conscientiousness, fatigue, psychological detachment, counterproductive work behaviors, low levels of salary and underemployment (DeArmond et al., 2014; Metin et al., 2016; Nguyen et al., 2013; Steel, 2007;
Wan et al., 2014). Additionally, procrastinators have lower performance and larger gap between current and goal states (Steel et al., 2001). Consistent procrastinating tasks and decisions has shown to affect individual and organizational outcomes (Gupta et al., 2012).
A study by Lee and Brand (2005) also explains this nuanced relationship by stating that the relationship between working from home and job satisfaction highlights that the level of
control on the work environment positively relates to job satisfaction, whereas distractions while working results in the dissatisfaction of the work environment.
According to researchers, procrastination has unfavorable effects on organizations.
Cadena et al., (2011) found that employees who procrastinate feel tensed and stressed regarding their work and report low job satisfaction. According to Mohsin and Ayub (2014) there is a correlation between procrastination and job satisfaction in the domain of high school teachers.
They mention that employees fall into a self-defeating cycle that focuses on negativity around the work environment, which influence the employee’s self-esteem and confidence. It also increases inefficiency and eventually they begin to dread their job. Therefore, this paper proposes that:
Hypothesis 3a: Employee procrastination mediates the relationship between working from home and job satisfaction, such that working from home will lead to higher procrastination, which in turn leads to lower job satisfaction.
Hypothesis 3b: Employees’ procrastination mediates the relationship between working from home and work-life balance, such that working from home will lead to a higher procrastination, which in turn will lead to lower work-life balance.
1.2 Mediating Role of Workplace Inclusion
Inclusion is described as an individual's balance between wanting to belong, while while preserving the unique identity (Shore et al., 2018). Inclusion is therefore divided into two dimensions: belongingness and uniqueness (Shore et al., 2010). Both dimensions can be separated from each other, but together provide the sense of inclusion for the individual (Chung et al., 2019) and lead to a socially integrated work environment. Inclusion therefore consists of two needs in which the manager can contribute to the fulfillment of these needs.
The impact of organizational inclusion on different aspects of employee job and work performance is evident from earlier research (Le et al., 2018; Mor Barak, 2000; Oliveira, 2021;
Nishii, 2013; Mousa et al., 2022). An organization that is committed to an inclusive culture influences meaningful work (Mousa et al., 2022). In addition, employees who view their work as meaningful, truly believe they are contributing to a greater organizational purpose and view their work within the greater good as being significant and important (Steger et al., 2012).
The COVID-19 pandemic caused the rise of a new discussion of the future of work in
notion of “inclusiveness” is bounded to a consistent location or place of work such as the office, or if it is now a more freely defined place. We are witnessing the home becoming a new place from which not only work is performed, but also personal and professional identity are being constructed (parent and professional) are blended and life is balanced in new ways (Antonacopoulou et al., 2020). The homeplace is replacing workplace as the one place where all of life’s richness is played out. Therefore, the future workplaces must analyze the impact of this shift in demand and the new ways of managing and organizing. This disruption can challenge the employees’ sense of meaningfulness at work, since it could create a disconnection with the organizational purpose, demanding for more situational adjustments. If managed improperly, employees’ disengagement occurs (Byrd, 2022).
In addition, a recent study by Chernoglazova (2022) indicates that employees show lower levels of inclusion and belonging on remote working days, compared to the days working at the office. COVID-19 resulted in unintended consequences of social distancing, social isolation and related feelings of loneliness (Reget e al., 2020). Loneliness, in turn, is also associated with lower workplace inclusion and a feeling of belongness (Gratz et al., 2020). As Markel and Gou (2020) mention: that although remote technologies can help with inclusivity in some ways, they can also have raised additional barriers. Such shifts are likely to have effects on employees’ sense of belonging and are bound to affect some employees more than others, possibly depending on gender, ethnicity, socio-economic background etc.
The absence of an inclusive culture creates a feeling of insecurity and inadequacy in organizational contexts, which could cause lower job satisfaction and work-life balance (Le et al., 2021; Tang et al., 2017). In contrast, a strong culture of organizational inclusion is seen as expressing organizational acceptance, appreciation, value and respect, which could then generate positive employee outcomes, such as higher employee retention, job satisfaction and organizational commitment (Mor Barak, 2000; Nishii, 2013; Shore et al., 2011). Thus, the following hypothesis was made:
Hypothesis 4a: Perceived workplace inclusion will mediate the relationship between working from home and job satisfaction, such that working from home will lead to lower workplace inclusion, which in turn will be associated with lower job satisfaction.
Hypothesis 4b: Perceived workplace inclusion will mediate the relationship between working from home and job satisfaction, such that working from home will lead to lower workplace inclusion, which in turn will be associated with lower job satisfaction.
2. Working from Home Opportunities
As Winston Churchill once said “Never let a good crisis go to waste”. The chaos and uncertainties resulting from COVID-19, depressing and dreary as they may be, are also full of opportunities to develop new ways of organizing and managing organizations. In the upcoming section we will highlight the opportunities for employees and employers regarding working from home, through the mediating effects of job autonomy and commuting time.
2.1 Mediating Role of Job Autonomy
Another major belief that has been analyzed during the pandemic is employees’ job autonomy. During working from home, employees expect more flexibility on how to handle their tasks and this is known as job autonomy (Saragih et al., 2022). Autonomy is based on the self-determination theory, a general theory based on human motivation and personality (Deci
& Ryan, 2008).
As mentioned before, a major assumption in the remote work literature has been that flexibility in timing and executing of task enhances employees’ perception of autonomy, which improves remote workers job satisfaction and work-life balance. This is because they can integrate or separate work and nonwork according to their preferences (Raghuram et al., 2019).
When employees a granted a high level of job autonomy, they can execute their tasks by applying their knowledge, skills and abilities efficiently. This would lead to a higher level of well-being and job satisfaction (Saragih et al., 2022). According to Yang and Zhou (2018) job satisfaction would increase when employees experience independence and autonomy at the workplace, because they can use their creativity, authority and power to handle their work.
Recent studies also indicate that job autonomy has become a precondition of pro-active workplace behavior (Chang et al., 2021).
Most perspectives on autonomy assume that it is in the context of independent work.
However, increasingly, new generations will seek to be part of more collaborative ventures at work. They might want to choose with whom they want to work with, what task they want to work on and from which location they want to execute it. This could result in autonomous workers that constantly search for new projects that match their financial and work needs.
A recent study demonstrated that the more time employees spent working remotely (vs.
from the office) the higher their expectation of flexibility (International Labour Guide, 2020;
For example, as Saragih et al. (2021) mention; employees may desire a change in the measurement of productivity by focusing on outcomes rather than working hours, since this is aligned with their autonomous way of working. Such a notion is a process-driven rather than outcome-driven.
Given that job autonomy is considered a contextual resource that affects employees’
attitudes in an organization, it is projected to be an important boundary condition in the influence of remote work on employees’ job satisfaction. Therefore, the following hypothesis is established, to analyze the relation in the current post-pandemic context:
Hypothesis 5a: Job autonomy will mediate the relationship between working from home and job satisfaction, such that working from home will lead to higher perceptions of job autonomy, which in turn will be associated with higher job satisfaction
Hypothesis 5b: Job autonomy will mediate the relationship between working from home and work-life balance, such that working from home will lead to higher job autonomy, which in turn will be associated with higher work-life balance
2.2 Mediating Role of Commuting Time
For most people, a daily commute to and from work is an ordinary activity, or better said; was an ordinary activity. One severe result from the working from home during COVID- 19 was the decline in commuting, empty trains and silent highways. In the recent years, interest grew in the research topic of commuting. There has been increasing attention on how transport policies and practices can contribute to a better health (Beck & Hensher, 2022).
Commuting has an impact on both the individual and society. Spending an hour in the car or train means losing an hour that could have been spend elsewhere. The climate crisis makes this commuting discussion even more important: developing a more sustainable mobility system will require employers and employees to reduce transport-related carbon emissions, of which commuting contains a large share (Ferreira et al., 2017). In addition, other researchers mention the positive outcomes of remote work as pollution would be reduces, as well as fuel consumption and real estate savings (Allen et al., 2015, Gajendran & Harrison, 2007; Raghuram et al., 2019). However, looking at the history of commuting policies, it has never been a popular idea among politicians (Nikolaeva et al., 2019). When the COVID-19 pandemic occurred, this not-much spoken off policy was broken, enabling a broader societal and political debate on the role of mobility and its impact on the employee and employer.
The impact of commuting on the employee, pre-pandemic research indicates that commuting time is a major source of stress for most employees resulting in lower levels of job satisfaction and greater turnover intentions (Amponsah-Tiwiah, 2016). In addition, long commutes are likely to affect the overall well-being and commitment of employees also through their negative effect of work-life balance (Emre & Spiegeleare, 2019).
The post-pandemic literature shows that people value the decrease in commuting time.
Work can be scheduled in such a way that we can balance our private and work life more evenly. Employees can work flexibly with no commute stress, resulting in time and money saving (Suloncha Syal & Sharma, 2021). With this time, they can shift their focus on things they would like to do for themselves, resulting in a higher job satisfaction and work-life balance. Work-life balance research view the choice of working away from a central location as an advantage for employees, as they can use the saved commute time and energy for family and personal activities (Raghuram et al., 2019). In addition, the decrease in commuting time allowed multiple household members to meet their work commitment together with the children being able to complete their homework. This save in time was necessary in times of the pandemic and for employees’ satisfaction with remote work, work-life balance and well- being. Therefore, it would be interesting to research the current effect of commuting time in relation to work-life balance and job satisfaction.
Hypothesis 6a: Commuting time mediates the relationship between working from home and job satisfaction, such that lower commuting time increases the job satisfaction.
Hypothesis 6b: Commuting time mediates the relationship between working from home and work-life balance, such that the lower commuting time, the higher work-life balance.
Moderating Role of Perceived Organization Support
Recent studies indicate that organizational support is one of the most important factors related to work-life balance and job satisfaction when working from home (Sun, 2019).
Perceived organizational support is defined as the employees’ perception that the organization cares about their well-being and values their contributions (Eisenberger et a., 1986, Rhoades and Eisenberger, 2002). It constitutes of “(..) an assurance that aid will be available from the organization when it is needed to carry out one’s job effectively and to deal with stressful situations (Rhoades & Eisenberger, 2002, p. 698). Perceived organizational support one of the
extent to which organizations compensate employees for their efforts, help them when they need it, make their work interesting and provide them with appropriate working conditions.
Employees interpret organizational support as a tangible manifestation of the organization’s respect for their contribution and concern for their well-being. According to the theory of social exchange (Blau, 1964), employees want to gain favorable treatment in exchange for helping the organization achieve its goals.
Diving into the organizational support theory, if employees have the feeling that the organization looks after and take care of them, they are more likely to believe that the organization is willing to recognize their endeavor. Going even deeper, if the employee feels valued and cared about, their socioemotional needs are met, such as need for respect, approval and consideration. This will make employees feel cared for. Emotionally and psychologically, individuals who feel a lot of support will be better able to cope with daily stress and reduce the perceived of stress assessment (Jex,1998; Thakur & Kumar, 2015).
When analyzing the perceived organizational support within the context of the COVID- 19 pandemic, researchers state that the importance of this concept grew (Errichiello & Pianese, 2021). Many organizations have implemented full-time/part-time work from home for their employees in response to the crisis. Consequently, more extensive working from home support was needed in organizations. The perceived organizational working from home support is employees’ sense that their organization provides them with the necessary resources for working from home, such as technological support, decision-making authority and authentic leadership. Regarding the employees, insecurities, stress and anxiety occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic and an increase of need in perceived organizational support developed.
Employees needed technological support, however, were also scared about the security of their job, the changes in environment and about the unknown that the future will bring.
Finally, employees may interpret the support provided by their employer as a demonstration of commitment towards them (Eisenberger et al., 1986; Rhoades and Eisenberger, 2002; Shore et al., 1995), which in turn tend to enhancement of their commitment to the organization. This relationship has had much attention in the past. However, the post- pandemic context has shed light on the difficult situations of organizations. Many employees have made a shift during the pandemic and turnover rates were extremely high. Nearly one in three (31%) employees across Europe changed jobs in the past two years, with 21% of those that didn’t, are actively seeking a new opportunity in 2022 (Labs, 2022). With their reason being either wanting a better work-life balance or looking to do something they enjoy more.
When looking at the relationships of working from home on job satisfaction and work- life balance mediated through procrastination. As described earlier, these relationships are expected to have a negative effect, since working from home leads to an increase in procrastination, which in turn leads to a decrease of job satisfaction and work-life balance.
However, when analyzing the situation by including the influence perceived organizational support, we believe that it will influence the mediating effect. We propose that organizational support from work can help to reduce procrastination. Individuals sometimes procrastinate for a relief from stress (Lavoie & Pychyl, 2001; Wan et al., 2014). Support is particularly important in this extraordinary context, because it can act as “a negativity buffer” (Bavik et al., 2020), helping workers cope with stress and focus on tasks. As said before, organizational support can lead to more commitment to the organization (Rousseau & Aubé, 2010). Thus, employees with higher organizational support tend to repay the organizations by concentrating more on their work (i.e. showing less procrastination) (Buunk et al., 1993). Therefore, we propose the following hypothesis:
Hypothesis 7: Perceived organizational support will moderate the relationship between procrastination and job satisfaction (H7a) and work-life balance (H7b). That is, the relationship between procrastination and job satisfaction/work-life balance is weaker for those employees with a higher level of perceived organizational support.
The second relationship that is influenced by the moderator, is the relationship of working from home on job satisfaction and work-life balance mediated by workplace inclusion.
We propose that organizational support can have positive influence on the decreased feeling of workplace inclusion during times of working from home. In the commentary above we have reviewed the evidence for the beneficial role of organizational support in determining working from home outcomes, such as the employees’ socioemotional needs that are met through organizational support. The employee experiences a fulfillment of their need for respect, approval and consideration, which are in line with the antecedents of workplace inclusion.
Given the important influence of various forms of support on wellbeing outcomes such as social isolation, it is reasonable to expect that organizationally derived support will have a positive influence on perceived workplace inclusion (Grigg et al., 2013, Nohe & Sonntag, 2014). Therefore, we suggest the following hypothesis:
Hypothesis 8: Perceived organizational support will moderate the relationship between workplace inclusion and job satisfaction (H8a) and work-life balance (H8b). That is, the relationship between workplace inclusion and job satisfaction/work-life balance is weaker for those employees with a higher level of perceived organizational support.
Looking at the relationships of working from home on job satisfaction and work-life balance, mediated by job autonomy. These relationships are expected to be positive, since working from home leads to a higher job autonomy, which in turn leads to a higher job satisfaction and work-life balance. When the employees’ perceived organizational support is also high, this means that the employee has the feeling that communal trust is present within the relationship between the employer and employee. This trust leads to a degree of freedom, knowing that the employer values the contribution of the employee and having the confidence that he or she can do it. Providing this “trust” enables the employee to capture this need for autonomy even more. Gagné and Deci (2005) stated that the extent to which organizations support their employees by satisfying their psychological needs could influence the employees’
behavior. They documented that the need for job autonomy is associated with high motivational autonomy as it assigns responsibility and stimulates personal growth and it can determine higher job satisfaction, commitment and work-life balance. Therefore Hypothesis 9 was formed.
Hypothesis 9: Perceived organizational support will moderate the relationship between job autonomy and job satisfaction (H9a) and work-life balance (H9b). That is, the relationship between job autonomy and job satisfaction/work-life balance is stronger among those employees with a higher level of perceived organizational support.
To our best knowledge, the principle of POS has not been researched before as moderator in the post pandemic working from home context. The findings could stimulate organizations to focus on providing support during times of crises, since it can create loyalty, trust and valued relationships.
Data and Method
Within this chapter, the methodological approach is outlined. The data were collected via a survey design since this method enables the researcher to collect a large amount of data in a relatively short period of time. I will discuss the research preparation, participants, sample and procedure, measurements, control variables and data analysis.
The sample included employees within the Dutch workforce. It was chosen to focus on gathering employees from various organizations. Due to the fact that, after the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations chose varying working from home policies, with different motives.
Therefore, we decided to sample employees from organizations that now (after COVID-19) have to work fully from home, work fully from the office and everything in between. The aim was to gather an equal number of each of the categories (working from home, from the office, or hybrid).
Overall, there was a total of 274 participants. Their age ranged from 19 to 65 years (m
= 36.57; SD = 12.684) and a small majority of the participants identified as female (54.7%
female and 45.3% male). Participants conducted different type of work. Most of the participants worked in the field of consulting/professional services (60 participants), followed by healthcare (28 participants) and technology (28 participants). Only 26 participants identified their type of work as ‘other’, indicating sufficient categorization options. The participants conducted a variety of levels of education; however, the vast majority completed a Bachelor (HBO or WO) or master’s degree (together 240 participants). Moreover, of all the participants, 45 (16.4%) reported to have at least one child of the age of 12 or younger living at home. For an overview of the sample descriptives, please refer to Table 1 on the following page.
Table 1: Overview Demographics Variables
19 – 30 years 136
31 – 40 years 49
41 – 50 years 30
51 – 65 years 59
High school 12
Secondary vocational education (MBO) 21
Higher vocational education 119
Master’s Degree 121
PhD or higher 1
Tenure with Organization
<1 years 16
1-3 years 109
3-5 years 49
5-10 years 57
>10 years 43
Type of industry
Architecture, Construction and/or Engineering 5
Consulting/Professional Services 60
Financial, Insurance and/or Real Estate 18
Technology / IT 28
Note: N = 274.
This quantitative research was carried out through a survey design via Qualtrics and took approximately 5 minutes for the participants to complete. Participants were asked to participate in the study through social media, email, WhatsApp or in person. The participants could fill in the survey in Dutch (66% of the respondents) or in English (34% of the respondents). All scales and questions were directly translated to Dutch, using back translation, to gather as many respondents as possible. The translation of the survey was done through back translation and cross-checked with additional Dutch studies using Dutch translated of the same scales. This is done to avoid biases resulting from interpretation and to provide clear understanding of the items. Moreover, the survey was checked beforehand by the supervisor and four additional external people to make sure all translations were correct and no misunderstandings occurred. Please find the survey questions and translations in Appendix 1
A non-probability sample was used for this thesis. Participants were gathered through convenience sampling, due to time and resource limitations. This single-source study had only one requirement for participation, namely that the participant must be working in the Netherlands. Within the invitation text it was also stated that it would be preferred if the employee had experience with working from home, however this was not a requirement. This was done to enable a large research sample. By including employees who do not work from home, other research models and possibilities were still left open to analyze. In addition, snowball sampling was utilized by a small number of participants who forwarded the survey to colleagues.
Out of the 330 participants that opened the survey, 280 respondents completed it (84.85%). Moreover, six participants completed the survey under two minutes. Since it is unlikely to complete the survey under two minutes, these 6 participants are excluded from the research. A total of 274 respondents was left to analyze the results. The data was collected over a period of 12 days.
Working from home. Three items were created to measure whether participants engaged in working from home or not. Items were the text entry question “On average, how many hours do you work per week? Give your answer in number of hours (e.g., 36)”, followed by “Do you work from home during the work week? This item could be answered with either “yes” or “no”.
Closed with the text entry item “On average, how many hours do you work from home per week? Give your answer in number of hours (e.g., 8)”.
This variable was converted into three categories, being 1= working from the office, 2= working hybrid, 3= working from home. Since only 10 respondents worked completely from home, a choice was made to include people that work 80% from home within the work from home group. Subsequently, the other way around people who work 80% from the office were also included in the work from the office group. A total of 72 employees worked (mostly) from the office (26%), 175 worked hybrid (64%) and 27 worked (mostly) from home (10%).
Work-life balance. The survey included five items of the Valcour (2007) scale to measure work-life balance. Items were rate on a 5-point Likert scale (1 = Extremely dissatisfied to 5 = Extremely satisfied). Example items include “My ability to balance the needs of my job with those of my personal or family life” and “How well my work life and my personal or family life fit together” The internal reliability of this test is strong (a = .84).
Job satisfaction. The Brayfield-Rothe Job Satisfaction Index (Brayfield & Rothe, 1951) is a 5-item scale that was selected to measure the overall job satisfaction levels of all employees. Items were rated on a 5-point Likert scale (1 = Strongly disagree to 5 = Strongly agree). Items included “I feel fairly satisfied with my present job” and “I find real enjoyment in my work.” The participants’ responses were averaged to create an overall job satisfaction score in which higher scores indicated higher job satisfaction. Cronbach’s alpha (internal consistency) demonstrated high reliability of the scale (α = .84).
Workplace inclusion. The survey included 9 items based on the Mor Barak Inclusion- Exclusion Scale (Mor Barak, 2005; Mor Barak, Cherin, & Berkman, 1998) to measure workplace inclusion. Items were rated on a 5-point Likert scale (1 = Strongly disagree to 5 = Strongly agree). A sample scale item is, “My co-workers openly share work-related information with me.”. All items were averaged to create a mean inclusion-exclusion score and treated as an observed variable. Higher scores represented a higher sense of inclusion. Previous studies using this scale reported Cronbach’s between .81 and .90 (Mor Barak, 2013). Reliability of this scale was shown with a Cronbach’s alpha (α) equal to .812.
Procrastination. The 3-item scale adapted from Tuckman (1991) was used to measure procrastination. Items were rated on a 5-point Likert scale (1 = Strongly disagree to 5 = Strongly agree). A sample item is “During the period of working from home, I needlessly delayed finishing jobs, even when they were important.” The Cronbach’s alpha (α) equalled .91 proving strong reliability of the scale
Need for Autonomy. The survey included the three-item scale of van den Broek et al., (2010) that focused on the satisfying need for autonomy. Items were rated on a 5-point Likert scale (1 = Strongly disagree to 5 = Strongly agree). Sample items included “I feel free to do my job the way I think it could be best done” and “The tasks I have to do at work are in line with what I really want to do”. The Cronbach’s alpha (α) equaled .75 providing its reliability.
Commuting time. A single item was created to measure the commuting time to or from work of the participants. The item was “About how much time does it usually take for you to get to work each day, door to door (one way)? Give your answer in number of minutes (e.g.
Demographic information. Participants were also asked their background information, which included questions regarding age, gender (male, female, other or prefer not to say) , if they had children, followed by if they had children of 12 or younger living at home.
Organizational tenure, job tenure and education level were also included within the demographic information.
Control variables. Some of the demographic information was used to enable the control for specific characteristics. Gender, for example, has been found to influence working from home workers’ productivity, work-life balance and job satisfaction (Gajendran & Harrison, 2007; Kossek et al.,2006; Martin & MacDonnell, 2012). Also, the child caring responsibility of the participants was considered, as this factor might influence the perception of work-life balance (Shirmohammadi, 2022). Previous studies have shown that age, gender, caring responsibility can influence working from home workers’ productivity, work-life balance and job satisfaction (Shirmohammadi, 2022).
When analyzing the data, several steps had to be undertaken to come to the main analysis. The first step was checking the missing or incorrect data within the data set. A total of 330 respondents started with the survey. However, 280 respondents manage to complete the survey. Out of the 50 incomplete surveys, 7 respondents did not fill questions regarding the final variable, perceived organizational commitment. The choice was made to exclude these 7 incomplete surveys, due to the large number of completed surveys. In this way, we manage to prevent missing data and ensure that each research model has an equal number of respondents, which ensured reliability. Finally, 6 respondents completed the survey under two minutes.
are most probably not reliable and therefore excluded. This resulted in a total of 274 respondents for the main analysis.
Next the internal consistency of the measurements was analyzed. The variables job satisfaction, work-life balance, procrastination, workplace inclusion were examined and showcased good reliability (Cronbach’s alpha >.8). The need for autonomy showed sufficient reliability (Cronbach’s alpha >.75) and the procrastination showed excellent reliability (Cronbach’s alpha >.9).
When testing the hypotheses, the data analysis started with analyzing the two direct effects of working from home on job satisfaction and work-life balance by performing a linear regression with working from home as the IV and job satisfaction and work-life balance as DVs. Followed by analyzing the mediating relationships. This was tested through PROCESS macro model 4 by Hayes. Finally, the model was tested including all mediations and moderated mediation (PROCESS macro model 14 by Hayes). At first, young children at home was used as a control variable. In the next steps of the analysis, it was excluded since it became clear that it did not have an effect on the main variables.
Descriptive statistics and correlations
The most important results of the correlations analysis are presented in the correlation matrix in Table 2. The mean and standard deviation have been calculated for all variables included in the research model and for each demographic variable. Moreover, within Table 2 the overview of the different variables is showcased, its corresponding and correlating values and the Cronbach’s alpha value of each research variable (on the diagonal).
The correlation matrix showed that there was no significant relationship between the variable working from home and work-life balance. However, for the specific category hybrid working employees only there was a significant relationship (r =.086, p = 002.). In contrast with previous research however, in our sample we did not find a significant relationship between the working from home in general and job satisfaction (r = -.031, p = .329 and p
However, multiple significant correlations between other variables did occur. For instance, working from home was positively related to commuting time (r = .166, p = <.001).
Additionally, the analysis showed a positive, significant relationship between workplace inclusion and job satisfaction (r = .498, p = <.001) and a positive, significant relationship with work-life balance (r = .299, p = <.001). In contrast to the positive, the data analysis showed a
negative significant relationship between procrastination and job satisfaction (r =-.339, p = <.001) and likewise for its relationship with work-life balance (r = -.243, p =
<.001). Finally, in our sample we did not find a significant relationship between commuting time and job satisfaction (r = -.037, p = .760) or work-life balance (r = .052, p = .694).
The correlation matrix was used to decide whether the pre-determined control variables needed to be included within the next analysis. Because age had a significant relationship with job satisfaction and work-life balance, age was included for further analysis. Moreover, gender also resulted in a significant relationship with work-life balance, it was also included in further analysis. When looking at the variable of young children living at home, this only had a significant effect on procrastination and not the dependent variables. Therefore, young children living at home will not be included in further analysis, since it is not expected that the variable will have an influence in this study.