Staying in touch, yet expected to be? A diary study on the relationship between personal smartphone use at work and work-nonwork interaction

Ada Sil Patterer, Takuya Yanagida, Jana Kühnel, Christian Korunka

The present study challenges the prevalent negative view of personal smartphone use at work and advances our understanding of its effects on the work-nonwork interface. Drawing on border theory, we focus on the social and instrumental feature of smartphones that allows employees to be connected with their private contacts (e.g. friends and family members) while at work and, thereby, test the influence of day-level personal smartphone use at work on positive and negative work-nonwork interaction (WNI). In considering social experiences of smartphone-enabled communication, we propose underlying explanatory mechanisms, namely, the social benefits (i.e. feeling in touch with private contacts) and social costs (i.e. feeling expected to respond to private contacts) of communication. One hundred and twenty-seven employees participated in a diary study. They completed online questionnaires three times a day over ten working days, resulting in a total of 1,066 days of data. Multilevel structural equation modelling indicated that on the day-level of analysis, personal smartphone use at work promoted positive WNI through the perceived social benefits of communication and increased negative WNI through the perceived social costs of communication. We discuss our findings and extend current research on personal smartphone use at work by acknowledging this widespread workplace behaviour as both beneficial and detrimental for successfully managing the daily interplay of the work and nonwork domains.

Practitioner points

Personal smartphone use at work should not be classified as exclusively detrimental workplace behaviour, as it can help employees attend to personal responsibilities more easily.

For a more comprehensive evaluation of the consequences of personal smartphone use at work, social experiences of communication should be considered when compiling workplace guidelines.

Educating employees on how to make the most of personal smartphone use at work and understanding the underlying social mechanisms may help them to better manage work and nonwork responsibilities.

Institut für Arbeits-, Wirtschafts- und Sozialpsychologie, Institut für Psychologie der Entwicklung und Bildung
Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology
Anzahl der Seiten
ÖFOS 2012
501003 Arbeitspsychologie, 501015 Organisationspsychologie
ASJC Scopus Sachgebiete
Applied Psychology, Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
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