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Chapter 5: Discussion, Recommendations, and Conclusions

5.3 Impact of Telework on Work-life Balance and Job Satisfaction

factors such as improved work-life balance, better work flexibility, reduced commuting time and costs, and higher productivity drive the demand for telework. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a substantial increase in the availability of telework, with a strong preference for the hybrid telework model. The preference for teleworking is consistent with previous studies that found a growing trend towards telework due to its benefits. As telework continues to be a popular work arrangement, it is crucial for organisations to consider these drivers when implementing telework policies and to ensure that they align with employees' needs and preferences.

the potential to improve work-life balance through increased flexibility and control over work schedules (Allen et al., 2015; Beauregard et al., 2019; Shieh, 2019; Uzun, 2021).

Flexible job scheduling was found to be a key aspect of telework that enabled employees to balance work and family responsibilities more effectively. According to quantitative findings, telework allowed employees to create more flexible working arrangements. These findings are in line with the literature, which suggests that teleworkers with flexible scheduling can more effectively balance work and family responsibilities (Messenger, 2019; Beauregard et al., 2019).

Flexibility in telework arrangements allows employees to better adapt to personal commitments, including childcare or other personal appointments, without negatively affecting their work performance (Sarbu, 2018; Thompson et al., 2022).

Furthermore, the quantitative findings revealed that almost 65% of participants indicated the decreased need for commuting as a significant contributor to better work-life balance.

Similarly, in qualitative findings, seven participants confirmed that telework saves considerable time by reducing or eliminating commuting. These findings are consistent with previous research (Jones, 2022; Hook et al., 2020; Zürcher et al., 2021), which also suggests that saving time on commuting allows employees to spend more time on personal activities and with their families, ultimately leading to a more balanced lifestyle.

Although the findings predominantly illustrate the positive impact of telework on work- life balance, it is important to acknowledge the challenges experienced in establishing boundaries between work and personal life. While the quantitative findings indicated that only 10% of the participants had problems with setting boundaries between work and personal life, the qualitative findings showed that 40% of participants reported experiencing such difficulties. These align with existing research indicating that telework may lead to the blurring of boundaries between work

and home environments, causing employees to struggle with disengaging from work and potentially leading to overworking (Allen et al., 2021; Beauregard et al., 2019; Jostell & Hemlin, 2018; Widar et al., 2022). Therefore, it is important for employers and employees to take steps to address the challenge of establishing boundaries between work and personal life in a telework environment. One effective strategy is to establish clear guidelines on work expectations and boundaries, such as specific working hours and communication protocols (Allen et al., 2021;

Sarbu, 2018). Employers should encourage employees to disconnect from work during non- working hours, such as by disabling notifications or encouraging them to take breaks and engage in personal activities (Beauregard et al., 2019; Elbaz et al., 2022). Additionally, employees can create a designated workspace and establish rules that help them separate work and personal life (Allen et al., 2021). These steps can help to ensure that telework remains a positive experience that promotes work-life balance and enhances employee well-being.

5.3.2 Impact on Job Satisfaction

The research findings revealed a generally positive attitude toward telework's impact on job satisfaction, as more than 80% of participants reported feeling more satisfied with their job when teleworking. This finding aligns with previous studies that have reported positive correlations between telework and job satisfaction (Beauregard et al., 2019; Brunelle & Fortin, 2021; Schall, 2019). However, when discussing job satisfaction, it is vital to understand that it can be considered as the ultimate outcome influenced by other variables that represent value for participants (Kaushal, 2021). From this context, the benefits of telework, such as better work-life balance, greater work flexibility, and reduced commuting, which were previously discussed, can be considered contributing factors to the observed increase in job satisfaction (Aziz-Ur-Rehman

& Siddiqui, 2019). This notion was further supported by qualitative findings, where eight of ten

participants specifically mentioned the benefits of flexibility when asked about their job satisfaction.

In addition, autonomy and trust were also identified as significant factors influencing their job satisfaction. Participants cited autonomy as the state of having the freedom to manage their work schedules and the capability to work independently. Trust was highlighted as participant’s perception that their organisation had confidence in their competence to complete tasks without the need for continuous supervision. These qualitative findings support the quantitative results by providing a more in-depth understanding of the specific factors contributing to job satisfaction in the context of telework. The importance of autonomy and trust as key determinants of job satisfaction in telework arrangements has been previously documented in the literature (Brunelle

& Fortin, 2021; Gajendran & Harrison, 2007; Tudu & Singh, 2022). Autonomy and trust can enhance employee motivation and commitment, which in turn, can positively impact job satisfaction (Even, 2020; Ngamkroeckjoti et al., 2022).

However, despite the generally positive impact of telework on job satisfaction, it is crucial to consider that teleworking can also have some challenges, such as social isolation and reduced face-to-face interactions. The quantitative findings indicated that the participant's responses to the Likert scale questio regarding social isolation had an average score of 2.84, with a standard deviation of 1.25. These findings suggest that feelings of isolation can potentially have a negative impact on job satisfaction among telecommuters. These findings are consistent with existing literature, which suggests that social isolation can lead to a decrease in job satisfaction among teleworkers (Bentley et al., 2016; Even, 2020; Mayer & Boston, 2022). The qualitative findings supported this, with eight of tenparticipants emphasising the importance of social interaction and in-person communication for job satisfaction. This is consistent with existing research, which has

reported that face-to-face communication is crucial for building and maintaining in-team relationships, which are predictors of job satisfaction (Allen et al., 2015; Brunelle & Fortin, 2021;

Kazekami, 2020). Employees who highly value social connections and in-person collaboration may experience decreased job satisfaction in telework settings due to reduced opportunities for face-to-face interactions (Adamovic, 2022). This highlights the importance of organisational support in mitigating feelings of isolation and maintaining a sense of community among teleworkers (Adamovic, 2022; Even, 2020; Williams, 2021). Therefore, it is essential for organisations to develop strategies that foster social connections and facilitate face-to-face interactions among teleworkers to promote job satisfaction and prevent negative consequences such as isolation (Beauregard et al., 2019). Moreover, hybrid telework arrangements emerged as a potential solution to addressing social isolation, as they offered a balance between telework and in-person collaboration (Hopkins & Bardoel, 2023; Williams, 2021). The findings also confirm this notion, with significant responses and highlyg significant responses from the questionnaire and interviews, respectively, quantitative data and 90% of interview participants expressing a preference for a hybrid telework model.

In conclusion, the findings suggest that telework has a predominantly beneficial impact on work-life balance and job satisfaction for New Zealand back-office personnel. Factors such as increased flexibility, autonomy, trust, and reduced commuting time contribute to these beneficial outcomes. However, challenges such as establishing boundaries between work and personal life and potential social isolation must be addressed by organisations to ensure the sustained benefits of telework. Hybrid telework arrangements offer a balanced solution that combines the benefits of telework with the benefits of in-person collaboration, effectively addressing the potential challenges and optimising work-life balance and job satisfaction. Therefore, it is crucial for

organisations and managers to carefully consider the implementation of telework policies and practices to balance the benefits and challenges, ensuring that employees can reap the benefits of telework while minimising its potential challenges.