November 17, 2017
The working world is characterized by technological developments that allow employees to work anywhere and at any time - and also allow an increasingly older workforce. How do these trends affect the interface between employees’ working and private lives? This is essentially what Dr. Ines Spieler explored in her dissertation, which has now been awarded the dissertation prize by the German Academic Society for Work and Industrial Organization [Wissenschaftlichen Gesellschaft für Arbeits- und Betriebsorganisation (WGAB)].
“Workplace Flexibility and the Aging Workforce: How Two Contemporary Workplace Trends Shape the Work/Nonwork Interface“, is the title of her doctoral thesis written at the Bremen International Graduate School of Social Science (BIGSSS), an inter-university institution run jointly by the University of Bremen and Jacobs University and awarded a distinction, i.e. the grade of summa cum laude. She shows that moderate use of flexibility with regards to starting, ending and break times assists employees in maintaining strong boundaries between the different areas of life. Such strong boundaries are, in turn, associated with improved well-being and greater work-life balance.
In addition, compared to younger employees, older workers seem to be more successful in scheduling the competing demands of their working and private lives. A reason for this seems to be active boundary management. Finally, the dissertation highlights the dynamic nature of the interface of the working and private life: whilst occasional use of flexibility has a positive correlation with attaining private goals and boundary strength, its continuous use represents a debilitating load that undermines the attainment of work objectives.
Spieler, I., Scheibe, S., Stamov-Roßnagel, C., & Kappas, A. (2017). How to reap the benefits of flexible work time. LSE Business Review.