An Empirical Study in Work-Life Balance: The Intricacies of the Balancing Act

Nina Renee Berentzen & Julie Daugbjerg Christensen

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis presents an empirical study on the impact of work-related technological tools and constant connectivity on the individual’s well-being and work-life balance. This is not an exhaustive examination on the topic, but still a contribution of important areas of interest or concern. To examine the topic we constructed a questionnaire, which we distributed using our networks on the social media platforms. Additionally, we had selected share the questionnaire on their work profiles and through their private email to reach more individuals. We performed a mostly qualitative analysis of the answers from the respondents using the theories chosen to extract the meaning behind their statements. The analysis was divided into eight parts, each examining one area using multiple theories. We used a total of six theories with various but still interlinked concepts and assumptions. While Middleton and Cukier (2006) are concerned with dysfunctionality of mobile use, Rennecker and Godwin (2005) theorise on paradoxical nature of communication technology use and Kreiner (2006) examines a correlation between employee wellbeing and a match of preferences and resources. Derks, ten Brummelhuis, Zecic and Bakker (2014) are concerned with the individual’s possibility for recuperation, Chesley (2010) inspects the connection between frequency of use and ten Hoeven and van Zoonen (2015) examines flexible work design and the benefits thereof. Initially, we compare our sample of respondents to the representative data of the Danish working population. This determined that our sample mainly consisted of high-frequency users of technology, working in the service industry. The second section of the analysis scrutinises the responses given to the questionnaire that fall somewhere in the muddled waters between yes and no. While these answers are valid, they can be hard to analyse, as they either express no opinion or state it is dependent on the situation at hand. In the third section, examines the influence of culture on the individual. We explored the notion of an organisation’s bubble of culture and how it impacted the individual’s attitude and norms with regards to the use of technological tools outside of work. This section also included a look at a shift in the culture through the evolution of social media and smartphones. The fourth section we survey the up- and downsides of the added flexibility that the technological tools provide. We also examine how technology could possibly be regulated to help employees maintain a healthy work-life balance. The paradoxical nature of communication and the implementation of technological tools are examined in the fifth section. We propose a hypothesis on a correlation between the individual’s position in the process of communication. However, we did not find backing in our data to confirm it. Next, the sixth section inspected the individual’s need to recharge and detach from work during evenings, weekends and holidays. Further, we looked at possible reasons for issues related to relaxing or sleeplessness, as well as addiction to technological tools. We also contemplated the need for boundaries and regulations to decrease work home interference (WHI) and maintain a healthy work-life balance. The penultimate section examines how the individual’s preferences of segmentation and integration of work and home can influence the individual’s well-being, when these are not met. The eighth and final section examines the idea that high-frequency users are more prone to perceive technology as positive. We investigate the job resources and demands stemming from implementing technological tools to be able to unravel the reasoning behind our respondents praising technology, even with severe repercussions. Following the analysis, we have discussed important aspects of our findings. Concluding on our analysis, it is clear to us that the presence of technology affects the individual in many ways. Most prominently we find a need for immediate action in organisations to fix a gaping hole in regulations concerning technology. If they ignore this need for clear regulation, they will experience a further increase in employees burning out due to stress or employees implementing their own rules to decrease their WHI and maintain their work-life balance.

EducationsCand.ling.merc Erhvervssprog og International Erhvervskommunikation (Multikulturel Kommunikation i Organisationer), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages143
SupervisorsOleg Koefoed