Teleworker Well-Being in COVID-19 as a Function of Change in the Work/Home Boundary: A Multilevel Response Surface Approach

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Virginia Tech


This dissertation explored how a change in the work/home boundary stemming from a mandatory switch to full-time telework influenced employee well-being. Organizational scholars have called for more investigations into how crisis events impact employees, and the COVID-19 pandemic presented an opportunity to examine a change in employees' work and home domains as it unfolded. Additionally, as full-time telework becomes a more common way of work, understanding how this once rare work arrangement affects employee well-being holistically is important. Using boundary theory, I hypothesized that a switch to full-time telework would increase the level of integration between employees' work and home domains, and that a greater change in integration level would associate with worse daily well-being outcomes. To explain this association, I turned to recovery theorizing and proposed daily work-related rumination and lack of psychological detachment as linking mechanisms. Additionally, I expected that teleworkers whose current level of integration was closer to their preferred level would experience better well-being. Using multilevel response surface analysis (MRSA), which enabled illustration of these complex associations in a more nuanced manner than is possible via either change scores or moderation analyses, I found that maintaining higher work/home integration both before and after telework co-varied with worse holistic well-being through work-related rumination and lack of psychological detachment. I also found that having higher integration than preferred and even high integration when preferred associated with worse well-being through work-related rumination and lack of psychological detachment. Based on these results, I point to boundary work and its facilitation of segmentation as a potential means of protecting employee well-being in the event of a future crisis that moves work into the home.



Telework, work/home boundary, well-being, response surface analysis, COVID-19