The past year has been heavily affected by a prolonged corona crisis, which radically changed our work life as we know it. All of a sudden, the home and the office were both in the same place, and this changed not only how we got the job done, but also changed our lifestyle and our work-life balance. This thesis will set light to and investigate how consultants master their new boundless workday in the home office. With this in mind, we have conducted qualitative in-depth interviews with 18 Norwegian consultants in the private sector. Based on the opportunities and challenges experienced in the home office, we identified two overarching themes through a thematic analysis: digital interaction and work-life balance. Although most people at the beginning of the pandemic struggled to make the more practical things like technology, wi-fi and video conferencing work, it has become clear that this is not where the great challenges of homework lie today.
In the first part of the study, we strive for insight into how digital interaction offers opportunities and challenges. We find that the consultants are satisfied and familiar with their digital tools as they contribute to increased efficiency. This correlates to fewer work disturbances in the physical space, for example spontaneous meetings with colleagues in the form of informal coffee talks. Nevertheless, this is two-sided as the absence of social interaction threatens building social relations, where digital tools are not able to convey equally good non-verbal communication. Closely related to increased efficiency, few disturbances and a mobile phone that is always connected, we see that it becomes difficult to detach from work - both mentally and physically. This connects to the collective expectations related to this new form of work. The result is a fluid distinction between work and leisure, where a feeling of working more evokes, which we find linking to lack of social life at work.
In the second part of the study, we take a closer look at special challenges arising through working without boundaries, where we arrange our findings into mainly 5 paradoxes. Here we reveal the ambiguity of flexibility, technology and accessibility, and discuss boundaries in a boundless working life. Furthermore, we identify that self-management, job commitment and proactive behavior can function as coping strategies against stress and other negative factors in the home office. Consequently, the study acknowledges on the one hand that self-leading consultants in the boundless work are responsible for their own demarcation and well-being, but on the other hand, managers should balance their leadership by helping employees navigate the new form of boundlessness and lead differently to lead equally.
|Educations||MSocSc in Human Resource Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis|
|Number of pages||121|
|Supervisors||Sara Louise Muhr|