Flexible work in the information and service sector: Are new forms of autonomy a job demand or a resource?

Flexible work, autonomy and blurring of former life boundaries

Our world of work is constantly changing. The transformation from an industrial society to a service society is closely linked to developments in the area of information and communication technology (ICT) and has far-reaching implications for individuals: Life gets faster, more flexible and more complex.

The use of ICT allows us to complete tasks when and where we like – especially in knowledge and office work. Mechanisms of acceleration and flexibilisation lead to the blurring of boundaries (dissolving boundaries) between gainful employment and private areas of life, such as family and household.

This research project is an interdisciplinary cooperation between the Work and Organisational Psychology and the Sociology department at the University of Vienna. It aims at investigating the influence of ICT-based flexible working on identity development, self-control, well-being and recovery, as well as on the employee’s household organisation (including family responsibilities, such as childcare) in the dimensions of time, space, performance and cooperation. In addition, it explores the resources and skills that employees who work flexibly need or should acquire to experience their life as organised and controllable in general. The project takes into account employees working under different flexible working conditions and crowd workers, who experience the dissolution of boundaries in its extreme form, and compares these employees.

This research project is an interdisciplinary cooperation between the Work and Organisational Psychology group and the Occupational Sociology group at the University of Vienna. It explores the implications of the dissolution of boundaries due to ICT for...

  1. the organisation of unpaid housework,
  2. identity development (particularly work-related partial identities),
  3. mental well-being (emotional exhaustion, mental relaxation),
  4. the necessary personnel resources. Can self-control and active boundary management reduce the negative effects caused by the dissolution of boundaries due to ICT? 

Facts and figures 

  • Duration: October 2017 - September 2020
  • Financing: DOC-team scholarship by the Austrian Academy of Sciences
  • Project staff (predoctoral staff): Benjamin Herr and Dominik Klaus (University of Vienna, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology), Edo Meyer and Julia Schöllbauer (University of Vienna, Faculty of Psychology, Department of Applied Psychology: Work, Education and Economy)
  • Supervisors: Jörg Flecker (University of Vienna, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology), Christian Korunka (University of Vienna, Faculty of Psychology, Department of Applied Psychology: Work, Education and Economy, Work and Organisational Psychology group).
  • Website: http://boundarylesswork.univie.ac.at/