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Despite enormous productivity increases during recent decades, it has been claimed that workers' engagement in non-work-related activities severely damages companies' productivity development. Currently, personal Internet usage seems to be the most upsetting of these activities. There is a widespread notion among management-friendly researchers, employers, and the media that all non-work-related activities are deviant and should be defeated at all costs. This conceptual article gives an overview of the organisational behaviour literature dealing with non-work-related activities at work. The prohibitive approach is both inconsistent and in practice unenforceable. This is especially true since an increasing proportion of today's private Internet usage at work is carried out by employees using their private smartphones, a fact that has not been considered in previous research. This article contrasts theories and ideas that private Internet usage at work is deviant with theoretical overviews arguing that non-work-related activities are an expression of normal action and behaviour, which can be explained with the help of both work-life balance theory and theories on resistance.
J. WORKPLACE RIGHTS, Vol. 16(1) 63-81, 2011-2012
Karlstad University, Sweden
Despite enormous productivity increases during recent decades, it has been
claimed that workers’ engagement in non-work-related activities severely
damages companies’ productivity development. Currently, personal Internet
usage seems to be the most upsetting of these activities. There is a widespread
notion among management-friendly researchers, employers, and the media
that all non-work-related activities are deviant and should be defeated at
all costs. This conceptual article gives an overview of the organisational
behaviour literature dealing with non-work-related activities at work. The
prohibitive approach is both inconsistent and in practice unenforceable. This
is especially true since an increasing proportion of today’s private Internet
usage at work is carried out by employees using their private smartphones,
a fact that has not been considered in previous research. This article contrasts
theories and ideas that private Internet usage at work is deviant with
theoretical overviews arguing that non-work-related activities are an expres-
sion of normal action and behaviour, which can be explained with the help
of both work-life balance theory and theories on resistance. An additional
concept is recovery, which has not previously been used in the debate on
Internet usage. Today’s workplaces are populated by engaged employees
who work at a fast pace and need recovery, well-deserved micro-pauses,
and breaks from demanding work. Furthermore, some Internet surfing is
actually a consequence of organisations’ inability to come up with decent
work tasks to fill the whole day. The aim of this article is to point out the
Ó2012, Baywood Publishing Co., Inc.
recovery functions of personal Internet usage in today’s working life, pri-
marily in terms of employees’ well-being and dignity. This article contributes
to the debate by proposing eight situations in which the employee should
be allowed to “cyberloaf” without being disciplined. The article also sug-
gests empirical investigations that may be carried out with regard to the
views and effects of personal Internet use at work in four different settings,
that is, where employees’ private Internet usage is officially forbidden,
seemingly forbidden, allowed, or encouraged.
Technological innovations and advances, not the least of which are connected
to the Internet, have an enormous influence on business, and on working and
private life. Many employers stimulate this development and take advantage of it
by providing their employees with cell phones, computers, software, and mobile
Internet access. They expect work to be done after office hours. The boundaries
between working life and private life are getting increasingly blurred, in the
sense that a lot of people are no longer clearly separating the two spheres (see,
e.g., Hochschild, 2001; Nolan, 2002). This not only leads to a situation in
which technology facilitates work to be done at home in unpaid spare time.
It also facilitates engagement in private matters at work. Anandarajan (2002)
argues that the Internet is an efficient business tool, but that it also gives employees
access to what has been called the world’s biggest playground. According to
existing research, almost everyone who has access to the Internet at work also
uses it for various private affairs (e.g., Lim, 2002). This is true for both workers
and managers (e.g., Garrett & Danziger, 2008).
What personal activities are workers and managers carrying out on the
Internet? Blanchard and Henle (2008) conclude that sending and receiving e-mail
is the most common activity (carried out by more than 90% of employees),
followed by visiting various news sites (approximately 90%). Other common
activities are shopping (approximately 65%), visiting sport sites (almost 60%),
and booking vacations and travel (approximately 50%).
The fact that many people have access to the Internet at work seems to
scare some academics, business managers, and the media, all of whom seem to
think of employee access as a potential or even manifest addictive virus that
will severely harm organisations and businesses. Because of the great fear
of what employees will do, and even more of what they will neglect, due to
Internet access, a considerable share of employers engage in surveillance of
their employees’ Internet activities. They also distribute threatening documents,
warning of what will happen to those who violate the organisation’s Internet
policy. Obviously companies live up to these threats. Greenfield and Davis
(2002) report that 30% of the companies in their study have terminated employees
for inappropriate use of the Internet.
Despite the fact that many employers have taken action against employees’
personal Internet use, not all employers are upset about the phenomenon. Verton
(2000) reports that 15% of employers do not perceive it as remarkable or dis-
turbing. In more recent studies, a changing attitude toward previously banned
activities can be seen. One such example is that of Blanchard and Henle (2008),
who divide personal Internet usage into minor activities (e.g., sending e-mails) and
serious activities (e.g., accessing gambling and adult sites). For some employers,
it is no longer a “big deal” if people send and receive personal e-mails or engage
in some private surfing on the net. Perhaps these employers have realized that
such personal activities do not harm or threaten the organisation as previously
believed. In addition, it is becoming increasingly common for companies and
public organisations to use social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, and even
blogging, for marketing and communication purposes. It looks odd if companies
are present on Facebook, yet block or ban their employees’ access to that very
site. Furthermore, most prior research on employees’ personal Internet usage
has taken place at workplaces in which the employer provides the computers and
Internet connections. Rapid technological development changes the playing field
with smartphones, in which the Internet and the telephone are integrated into
a common technical platform (Ivarsson, Larsson, & Pettersson, 2011). As these
devices permeate the market, workers can surf the Internet at work without
being confined to a desk or office. Personal Internet usage on smartphones will
take place at warehouses and factories, on the assembly line, during meetings, and
in restrooms or other places that give privacy. With these devices, employees have
acquired the tools to engage in cyberloafing with fewer, if any, actual possibilities
for the employer to monitor or prevent it. Therefore, traditional strategies of
monitoring Internet usage and blocking certain sites, based on the employer’s
provision of computers and Internet access, will no longer work.
Quite a lot of research has assumed that private Internet usage at work should
(and can) be prevented. This article argues that personal Internet usage at work
will not diminish, and a tough employer attitude will not be successful. Rather,
private surfing fulfills important recovery functions. Prohibiting personal Internet
use may be a dead end, resulting in significant negative consequences in the
form of acts of resistance, increased use of sick leave, and high employee turnover
rates. Instead, this article argues for an essentially permissive attitude. The aim
of this article is to point out the recovery functions of personal Internet usage in
today’s working life, primarily to the benefit of employees’ well-being and
dignity. The article proposes eight situations in which the employee should
be allowed to cyberloaf without being disciplined.
This article will review and discuss the academic perspective that considers and
explains personal Internet usage at work as a fundamentally deviant behaviour.
It will then examine the opposite viewpoints, arguing that this phenomenon
is natural and normal, ranging from the views of those who believe it is a way
to deal with everyday life at work to those who claim that it can be seen as an
act of resistance. It will also examine the perspective of recovery, based on the
importance of micro-pauses or short breaks from demanding work tasks.
What people do at work has traditionally been a concern for management,
focusing on the control and supervision of employees to ensure that they are
actually doing the work they are paid to do. The pursuit of organisational effi-
ciency and economic benefits has resulted in extensive research on desired
employee behaviour. In terms of desired behaviour from a managerial standpoint,
Bateman and Organ (1983) used the concept of employee citizenship in relation
to employee conduct and actions beyond job descriptions and management’s
stated requirements. An important factor is often employees’ loyalty and willing-
ness to contribute to the success of operations.
The diametric opposite of such behaviour is considered deviant and referred
to as workplace deviance, which is defined as “voluntary behavior that violates
significant organizational norms and, in doing so, threatens the well-being
of an organization, its members, or both” (Robinson & Bennett, 1995: 556).
This research tradition, which primarily attracts researchers with a managerial
perspective, focuses particularly on more serious deviant behaviour, such as
theft, fraud, and sabotage. The early cyber-version of serious organisational mis-
behaviour focused on employees’ visits to adult sites.
This subject also interests the media. An article in Businessweek On Line
(Conlin, 2000) claimed that 1 in 5 white-collar male workers accessed pornog-
raphy through the Internet while at work. Many would probably agree that surfing
on adult sites, illegal music downloading, and online gambling are offensive
and do not belong in a work setting. Still, the very definition of organisational
misbehaviour includes anything employees might do besides the work they
are paid to do.
This is where problems arise, leading to an absurd situation for workers.
Employees not responding fast enough to a customer request, talking to a
coworker, or taking a well-deserved break are considered deviant. Such behaviour
should be actively fought (e.g., Franklin & Pagan, 2006; Kamp & Brooks,
1991; Slora, 1989). There are plenty of academics who advocate this tough
attitude. Vardi and Weitz (2004: 244) are no exception, with a definition of
organisational misbehaviour as “Any intentional action by members of organi-
zations that defies and violates the shared organizational norms and expecta-
tions and/or core societal values, mores, and standards of proper conduct.” If
the right to define shared organisational norms, and even societal values, belongs
to management, one can assume that quite a number of things people do in
organisations are considered violations of proper behaviour.
Another concern among these management-friendly academics is calculating
and describing the impact of mundane elements of everyday non-work-related
activities in terms of losses in dollars and productivity. Some are even showing
concern for a declining morality in organisations. One such example is that
of Stroh and Reilly (1997), who wonder whether organisational loyalty is dead.
The loyalty issue is also noted in Proffice’s (one of the leading agencies
for temporary workers in Scandinavia) magazine, Dagens Möjligheter (Today’s
Opportunities). In the article, a manager at IKEA says: “My view is that employees
have abused our trust if they engage in Internet activities such as Facebook
and dating at work” (von Arndt, 2007: 4).
Alleged Effects of Deviant Behaviour
Non-work-related activities at work are fairly widespread, not least due to
the blurring of boundaries between work and private life. It is not easy to deal
with life entirely outside of work, and it is not just parents with small children
who are experiencing these problems. Most likely, everyone is forced some-
times to do things not having to do with work, and this need not be as harmful
as some researchers believe.
According to Harris and Ogbonna (2006: 543), between 75% and 96% of
employees “routinely behave in a manner that can be described as either delib-
erately deviant or intentionally dysfunctional.” From such statements, several
academics and journalists come to the conclusion that non-work-related activities
must be extremely costly for employers. Calculations made by a consulting
firm (Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., 2012) indicate that American employers
will end up paying distracted workers about $175 million over the first two days
of the annual NCAA basketball tournament.
However, it is not only extraordinary events that attract interest among certain
academics, consultants, employers, and journalists. Numerous studies (e.g.,
Ghiselli & Ismail, 1998; Hollinger, 1991) and media reports have dealt with the
costs of non-work-related activities. The heavy focus on costs and the relentless
pursuit of cost reduction leads to a situation in which even very ordinary things,
such as workers talking to each other, are scrutinized. The interest in this is
obviously based on the assumption that people are talking about things that
have little or no connection to their work. The inclusion of all non-work-related
conversations means it goes without saying that those who engage in simple
calculations (time multiplied by salary) will end up with huge numbers. For a
critical overview and an interesting calculation exercise, see Block (2001).
In recent years, workers’ use of information technology has been included in
these calculations. The most serious source of lost productivity is claimed to
be employees’ personal use of the Internet while at work, called cyberslacking
(e.g., Garrett & Danziger, 2008) or cyberloafing (e.g., Lim, 2002). The reported
percentage of people who use the Internet for personal reasons during paid
work time varies between studies. Some studies indicate that virtually everyone
who has access to the Internet at work also uses it for personal purposes
(Lim, 2002). The Metro newspaper (Göransson, 2008) stated that the amount of
time Swedish employees spend on personal Internet surfing while at work is
equivalent to time spent in 430,000 jobs. This represents approximately 10%
of the Swedish workforce. These results are in line with a study by Greenfield
and Davis (2002), in which the respondents spent an average of 3.24 hours
per week on personal Internet usage while at work. This result is similar to
that provided by the sample in Eddy, D’Abate, and Thurston’s (2010) study of
office staff.
However, some claim that cyberloafing is considerably more prevalent than
this. Whitty and Carr (2006) claim that personal Internet usage accounts for
51% of an employee’s total time online. This may be imprecise, as time and
task distributions are unclear. Verton (2000) concludes that as much as 30% to
40% of employee productivity is lost due to personal Internet usage. He argues
that two days of every workweek are spent on the Internet for personal purposes,
which puts his figures in a class by themselves.
Alleged Causes for Deviant Behaviour
Management-friendly academics try to prove the scope and extent of the
damaging effects of what they perceive as deviant behaviour. The conviction that
something actually is a deviant behaviour also has implications for how these
researchers explain the presence of non-work-related activities in general and
personal Internet usage in particular.
Some academics have focused on deviance in the form of harassment and
cyberstalking, referring to the causes of personality disorders (Recupero, 2010).
This article will leave aside the line of research that deals with the more severe
phenomena in working life. More worrying are those academics who use per-
sonality disorder as an explanation for rather common, non-work-related activities
(e.g., Boye & Slora, 1993; Coyne & Bartram, 2000). Explanations also suggesting
personal, if not pathological, shortcomings among workers can be found in
Greenfield and Davies (2002), who argue that lack of surveillance is an impor-
tant explanation for increased personal use of the Internet at work. However,
many researchers have abandoned personal causal explanations, in much the
same way as criminologists who developed theories of white-collar crime were
forced to abandon the idea of the “criminal gene” when they looked for explan-
ations of deviant behaviour among individuals who were considered normal
and well adjusted (Podgor, 1991).
White-collar crime is also explained in terms of availability and convenience,
or in the expression “opportunity makes the thief.” This is found in a number
of studies of personal Internet usage at work (D’Abate, 2005; Eddy et al.,
2010; Garrett & Danziger, 2008; Vitak, Crouse, & LaRose, 2011). These studies
reason that employees who use the Internet in their daily work are more prone
to using it for personal purposes.
Another classic white-collar crime explanation is that individuals rationalize
their actions as “standard practice” and argue that “everyone else does it.”
Blanchard and Henle (2008) find support for such an explanation when it comes
to what they call minor cyberloafing. Employees who see, think, or believe
that colleagues and managers send and receive personal e-mail messages and
visit news sites on the Internet become more prone to doing it themselves.
Blanchard and Henle (2008) take no explicit position on whether or not this
is damaging to the organisation, but there are plenty of others in this tradition
who do. For example, Kamp and Brooks (1991) believe that even seemingly
harmless activities such as procuring office supplies for personal use promotes
a culture in which theft is tolerated. Although this hardly results in large
economic losses, it is best to nip it in the bud.
Lim (2002) provides another rationalization that relates to white-collar crime.
Employees justify their personal Internet usage either by claiming former
exemplary behaviour (sometimes even declaring that they have done more than
can be expected) or by a perception that they are underpaid and that they are
simply evening out the imbalance. Slowly but surely, these explanations fall
into the borderland between what can be considered criminal and what can be
accounted for by traditional economic theory.
Within traditional economic theory, rational choice theory claims that people
act from self-interest (Kramer & Tyler, 1996). This means that employees will
engage in private activities if the conditions allow it and the virtues or benefits
are greater than the perceived losses or discomfort. Similar explanations, based
on human calculation, can be found in theories of effort bargaining (Baldamus,
1961; Behrend, 1957) and equity (Adams, 1963), which assume that employees
engage in some kind of informal “negotiating” and try to balance effort and
compensation. This is linked to perceptions of justice (Colquitt et al., 2006).
In this research tradition, which to a greater or lesser extent considers personal
Internet usage at work deviant behaviour, the solution to all managerial problems
tends to be control, surveillance, and prohibition.
Thus far, this article has discussed the deviance perspective, whose outlook
on humankind (at least when it comes to employees) is tainted with suspicion.
Something that is deviant is, by definition, unusual, rare, bizarre, or different
from normal and customary behaviours, opinions, and ideologies. Therefore, it
is doubtful whether this concept can be applied to all the behaviours in which
virtually all employees, as well as managers, engage. Of course, Internet usage can
be considered deviant in some cases, for example, when it puts others in danger,
involves harassment, or is perceived as offensive by others. Still, most employees’
Internet activity at work must be considered normal and natural.
The next section discusses three perspectives, mainly for workers—work-life
balance, resistance, and recovery—that address natural causes and positive
effects of personal activities at work. These perspectives are appealing since they
do not theoretically expect any explicit intent on the part of the employee to
damage the organisation.
Work-Life Balance: Causes and Effects
A work-life balance perspective would primarily consider non-work-related
activities as being carried out in order to facilitate daily life. A key assumption
is the increasingly blurred boundaries between work and private life, which is
expressed as “receiving family-oriented phone calls at work or taking business
calls at home” (D’Abate, 2005: 1011). Within the work-life balance perspective,
deviance and resistance are not put forward. There is a struggle, but it is mainly
between the desire to be a dedicated and successful worker and the desire to be a
dedicated and successful parent or spouse (Frone, Russell, & Barnes, 1996). Work
and private life are two greedy institutions (Coser, 1974), or gravitational fields
(Hochschild, 2001), that battle for time, commitment, and loyalty, without regard-
ing the other. On a rhetorical level, people may claim that non-work-related
activities are carried out at work because there is not enough room to handle
them in workers’ spare time.
However, work-life balance theories have only a limited explanatory value for
Internet use at work. Personal Internet activities engaged in for the purpose of
managing daily life while at work can hardly be that extensive, since the Internet
is a rather limited tool for combining work and family life. Eddy et al. (2010)
deal with work-life balance in their study of personal activities on company
time. They are rather surprised to find there are few personal activities on
company time that are explicitly connected to the facilitation of everyday life.
An explanation for this would be the fact that these researchers are looking
only at activities carried out at the office. Much of what is done for facilitation
purposes actually happens outside the workplace: going to a doctor’s appoint-
ment; dropping off or picking up kids at daycare or school; letting a plumber
into the house.
Even though a work-life balance perspective provides theories that are
insightful and useful in understanding contemporary (working) life, it seems to
have less to offer when it comes to what goes on at the office or at the factory,
particularly when it comes to personal Internet usage. Work-life balance can be
an explanation, but there seem to be concepts that are better in helping us to
understand why people at work engage in private Internet usage. The Internet is
definitely a source of leisure-oriented interests or amusement, more than a tool
with which to combine work and family. When employees are watching video
clips on YouTube, e-mailing jokes and funny pictures to colleagues, looking
up the result of yesterday’s football game, or reading the news, few would argue
that those kinds of Internet activities are carried out for work-life balancing
reasons, at least not in the traditional way of looking at it.
Resistance: Causes and Effects
From a resistance perspective, put forward by labour process theorists, non-
work-related activities are a natural consequence of the structural antagonism
between employers and workers (Beynon, 1980; Collinson & Ackroyd, 2005).
Wherever there is subordination, there will be resistance. Since workers are at
the bottom of the organisational hierarchy, in which managers distribute, super-
vise, and control work, it is only natural to find acts that violate the rules and
regulations of management.
At the workplace, the conflict between capital and wage labour is concretised
as the right, possibility, opportunity, and ability to take control of work, time,
products, and identity (Ackroyd & Thompson, 1999). In other words, there
is a constant struggle between management’s (sometimes obsessive) desire to
organise and control all aspects of work, and workers’ desire for autonomy.
Paulsen (2010) develops the resistance perspective in an interesting way by
noting how enormous postwar increases in productivity have led to the fact
that many jobs are no longer filled with a decent amount of important, adequate,
or even meaningful tasks. This development has not been initiated or promoted
by employees. However, in order to keep one’s job, one has to take part and
create an illusion of being busy at work.
At all workplaces, there is what Paulsen labels “empty labour.” He defines
this as “the part of our working hours that we spend on other things than work”
(Paulsen, 2010: 12). By bringing together the dimensions of labour intensity and
(work) commitment, which can be low or high, Paulsen develops a typology of
so-called empty labour and comes to the conclusion that there are four ideal
types: slacking occurs when the individual’s work commitment is high but the
intensity is low, often due to a lack of work tasks. Employees with little to do
and weak work commitment engage in playing. Coping is a way for an employee
with high work commitment to handle an intense work situation. Finally there
is soldiering, which appears when employees with low work commitment
withdraw from massive amounts of work.
With numerous reports of increased intensification of work, with employees
at the breaking point (e.g., Hochchild, 2001), it may seem strange that there would
be a large proportion of employees with little to do at work. However, various
empirical investigations give some support to Paulsen’s statement. Recent studies
based on Karasek’s (1979) control/demand model show that 53% of Swedish
employees experience high work intensity (Eriksson & Larsson, 2009), which
leaves 47% who experience either moderate or low work intensity. Thus, large
groups of employees have a job that might place them in situations encouraging
what Paulsen labels slacking and playing. Another closely related term is boreout,
which describes those who are suffering from understimulation and an uninter-
ested supervisor. This term was first used by Rothlin and Werder (2008).
Those who endure boreout have (or at least had) ambitions, but poor working
conditions have slowly worn them down.
If we follow Paulsen’s reasoning, these employees are forced to find some-
thing with which to occupy themselves, in order to put up with their work.
Informing management of their unwanted situation may lead to potentially serious
consequences. Obviously, workers will not help the organisation to rationalize
if it leads to an imminent risk of losing their job, so they cannot be categorized
as either deviant or resistant. Paulsen’s concepts of playing and slacking easily
lead to the notion that these people are players and slackers, a notion with which
we do not agree. An appropriate label for these groups of employees might be
hapless or victims of circumstances, since they are more or less stuck between a
rock and a hard place.
Even within the category of employees whose work is characterized by high
intensity, non-work activities go on. However, these employees are in a dia-
metrically opposite position from those mentioned above. They must find some
time for respite. High work intensity combined with low work commitment
inevitably leads to a classic act of resistance known as soldiering. This phenom-
enon has interested academics and managers ever since the days of Frederick
W. Taylor.
Finally, there is a group that has not received much attention from
academics within the resistance field but that nevertheless is very interest-
ing, namely, the group composed of those with high work intensity combined
with high work commitment. When these individuals spend some time on
personal Internet usage, one important reason is recovery. This argument is
developed below.
Recovery: Causes and Effects
High work intensity, which is widespread (Parent-Thirion et al., 2007),
brings the need for recovery. Since most employees have high work commitment
(Eriksson, 1998; Furåker, 2012), spending a brief moment on non-work-related
activities, such as personal Internet usage, should have positive effects, since
the employee will likely return to work with renewed vigour.
Many people experience mentally and emotionally demanding work, and a
growing number of employees report working at high speed most of the time
(Eriksson & Larsson, 2009; Geurts et al., 2003). Since humans are not machines,
they need a break to recharge their batteries. Hamermesh (1990: 121) states
that “Time spent on the job relaxing (loafing?) can increase workers’ productivity
by enabling them to rest when they are physically or mentally fatigued.” The
necessary respite all workers require, whether on the assembly line, in the emer-
gency room, or at the university, can be captured by the concept of recovery.
This is expressed in terms of “a person’s desire to be temporarily relieved from
demands in order to restore his or her resources” (Sonnentag & Zijlstra, 2006:
330). The opportunity to recover has many documented positive effects, primarily
on the individual. Recovery increases well-being by reducing stress (Westman &
Etzion, 2001) and increasing work engagement (Sonnentag, 2003).
The notion of recovery is closely connected to the concept of coping. In a work
context, research on coping has primarily included members of occupational
groups that are highly exposed to traumatic events, such as nurses in palliative care
(e.g., Healy & McKay, 2000), military personnel on submarines (e.g., Sandal et
al., 1999), and firefighters (e.g., Brown, Mulhern, & Joseph, 2002). However, the
need to recuperate is not just reserved for those who experience such extremely
stressful situations. Other groups, such as those in customer-intense work, also
need recovery time. This concept comes both from work sociologists and from
management researchers (e.g., Gustavsson, 1997; Zeithaml, Bitner, & Gremler,
Common strategies are withdrawal, venting, and using opportunities to go
“backstage.” Obviously, some management literature deals with these strategies,
so the notion and effects of recovery should not be totally unfamiliar among
managers. Such an awareness is expressed by those supervisors who encourage
their employees to “take some time.” The commonality, prevalence, and
effects of these encouragements have, however, scarcely been investigated.
There is likely a tendency toward rhetorical statements or lip service. In a
setting marked by a high pace, the time for recovery is seldom available when
the work appears: take the examples of a shop assistant in a busy store, a physician
whose patients are queuing up in the waiting room, or a copywriter facing
continual deadlines.
Some researchers place recovery outside work hours (Korpela & Kinnunen,
2010). The times for recovery are often seen as evenings, weekends, and summer
vacations. Implicitly as well as explicitly, recovery seems to belong in the
private sphere. Although people do engage in recovery activities and practices
in their spare time, the positive effects of weekends and vacations quickly
fade. Therefore, “individuals may need additional opportunities for recovery”
(Sonnentag, 2003: 518). The time for recovery outside work is not sufficient. In
addition, there is a need to create space for recovery through micro-pauses
during the course of the workday. Hamermesh (1990: 122) claims that “Among
workers engaged in physical tasks there is clear physiological evidence of
reductions in work capacity occurring at lower levels of rest and break time.”
Even those with sedentary jobs experience fatigue. Hamermesh (1990: 122)
argues that “Rest periods provide psychological benefits that may enhance the
well-being of these workers and hence their productivity.” So how do busy
individuals manage to squeeze in recovery time?
First of all, we argue with the support of Furåker (2012) that the vast majority
of employees have the ambition to do a good day’s work. Important work tasks
likely have priority over recovery for most employees. As stated earlier, recovery
is about “a person’s desire to be temporarily relieved from demands in order
to restore his or her resources” (Sonnentag & Zijlstra, 2006: 330). The demands
involved in today’s working life are excessive. They can be analytically differen-
tiated, although they might coexist in various occupations. Physical demands
include those related to muscle strength and repetitive strain injuries (e.g.,
among craftsmen and traditional factory workers, and also among large
groups within health and social care whose work is characterized by heavy
lifting in poorly adapted settings). Intellectual demands are seen in jobs where
employees are expected to be creative, innovative, and analytical (e.g., engineers
and researchers).
There is a range of other demands connected to human interaction. Social
demands are rather vague, as Callaghan and Thompson (2002) note in their
discussion of employers’ search for workers with “social skills.” Social demands
emerge in the relationship with management, colleagues, and customers in the
so-called service encounter (Ivarsson & Larsson, 2009). Hochschild (1983) dis-
cusses the demands on employees in service encounters. She captures the
emotional demands and argues that employees are required to suppress and/or
evoke emotions that, in various degrees, deviate from their true feelings. The
purpose is to create a certain atmosphere for customers (this involves, e.g., tour
representatives and others in the experience-based economy). Another set of
emotional demands appears in the literature on human service organisations
(Hasenfeld, 1983), and can be labeled as psychic demands. These demands affect
those (e.g., social workers and health care professionals) who interact with
people in need of some kind of consolation. Finally, there are aesthetic demands,
captured by the phrase “looking good, sounding right” (Warhurst & Nickson,
2001). These involve frontline employees who are required to represent the
company in a certain way (e.g., flight attendants and waitresses).
Various types of demands may coexist. Since many employees experience
a great deal of stress and pressure from an intensive work setting and workload, a
number of situations occur in which the employee should have the right to recover
without being subjected to disciplinary action by management. This does not mean
that employees should have an unfettered right to use the Internet at all times, for
all purposes. Rather, this article outlines eight propositions for situations in which
employees should be allowed to devote some time to personal use of the Internet.
Proposition 1: Employees should be allowed to use the Internet for personal
purposes when their workload is so excessive that it might affect their health.
A situation of excessive workload depicts the very essence of when recovery is
needed. The insatiable rationalization movement (Edwards, 1979; Sennett,
1998), which has also permeated the public sector (du Gay, 2006), has led to a
tradition of stress research providing a comprehensive knowledge of negative
health effects due to heavy workloads (Karasek & Theorell, 1990). Even though
a short break or a micro-pause does not solve the overriding problem for the
vast majority of workers, it does provide temporary relief.
Proposition 2: Employees should be allowed to use the Internet for personal
purposes during unproductive time or downtime. In most work situations, there
are pockets of time that are unproductive or dead. This occurs when there are no
obvious tasks or activities to be carried out that will result in any apparent,
measurable productivity. Since breaks from work are necessary (e.g., Hamermesh,
1990), and recovery has many positive effects (see, e.g., Sonnentag, 2003;
Westman & Etzion, 2001), unproductive time represents an excellent oppor-
tunity for recovery.
Proposition 3: Employees should be allowed to use the Internet for personal
purposes so long as their daily output is sufficient. There is a technical-economic
system embedded in companies and organisations that is insatiable in its pursuit
of increased productivity. In daily operations, this is expressed by manage-
ment’s aggravation at employees’ personal conversations and private Internet
usage. By engaging in such activities, employees are assumed to be stealing
productive time, and are therefore unable to meet either current or potential
productivity levels. Regardless of this, there should be some kind of productivity
level, or amount of work, that can be seen as “good enough” at a fixed time: in
other words, “a good day’s work.” As Block (2001) notes, such a discussion is
missing from today’s working life. Block argues that, by focusing on end results
(e.g., the number of units produced) rather than on work hours, management
would allow employees to catch up and/or work ahead to create space for
recovery. Such an approach is fully consistent with the research that shows
the importance of influence and autonomy (Karasek, 1979) and shows that good
jobs are created when the expected results are clear, transparent, and do not
constantly change (Waldenström & Härenstam, 2008).
Proposition 4: Employees should be allowed to use the Internet for personal
purposes in order to stimulate and initiate creativity. It is easy to jump to the
conclusion that the results of work depend on timing and tempo. However, there
are jobs or situations in which demands for creativity, problem-solving, and
analytical skills provoke a need for a temporary respite, in order to enable the
worker to return to the effort to solve the problem with renewed vigour. When
people such as copywriters, computer programmers, and R&D staff cannot come
up with creative ideas, a moment of personal Internet usage might prevent
them from getting stuck in a situation of “writer’s block.” The positive effects
of a break after continuously working on a difficult problem (which is followed
by the experience of a flash of illumination) are described in terms of “incuba-
tion” (see, for instance, Amabile, 1996). Private Internet usage plays an important
recovery function for groups engaged in problem-solving tasks. This is consistent
with Vitak et al. (2011), who found that employees with creative jobs cyberslack
to a greater extent than others.
Proposition 5: Employees should be allowed to use the Internet for personal
purposes if the work allows multitasking. This is connected to the second propo-
sition, but differs from it in one important sense. The employee engages in non-
work-related activities while carrying out work tasks. Doubtless, there are tasks
that do not require the employee’s full attention in order to be carried out in a
satisfactory way. One obvious example is that of the office employee who surfs
the Internet while stuck in a telephone queue or while on hold.
Proposition 6: Employees should be allowed to use the Internet for personal
purposes if this does not jeopardise safety. In most cases, a short break will not
result in others coming to harm. However, there are some exceptions. Some
occupations, or perhaps more accurately some situations, are associated with
responsibility for other peoples’ health and safety. In some situations it is obvious
that private use of Internet is totally out of the question, such as the situation
in which a surgeon is operating on a patient or a pilot is landing a plane. In other
situations, the aspect of jeopardising safety is not as obvious. One such example
could be that of the primary school teacher who updates his Facebook status
during a school excursion, and hence loses sight of the children for a moment.
Proposition 7: Employees should be allowed to use the Internet for personal
purposes if it does not affect coworkers. Proposition seven is slightly different
from the others, because it is not primarily based on the relationship between
management and employee. Instead it rests upon relationships between
employees. It is rather well known in the working life literature that workers’
collectives tolerate and encourage breaks during the day (Roy, 1959). But such
breaks should not be used in such a way that the workload of colleagues increases,
or that causes trouble in other ways (Karlsson, 2012). Due to this, workers’
collectives have a regulatory mechanism that limits private use of the Internet
during working hours.
Proposition 8: Employees should be allowed to use the Internet for personal
purposes if it does not affect customers, clients, or patients. This argument has
clear links with the previous proposition due to its connection with with the
relationship between workers and the company’s clients. Management must let
employees decide on their breaks. Such a standpoint is supported by a recent
study of employees with daily customer contacts, showing that 6 out of 10
employees are always trying to meet customer requirements, even at the
expense of their own well-being (Ivarsson & Larsson, 2009). This is even more
prevalent in health care, due to what Wærness (1984) labels the “rationality
of caring,” based on letting others’ needs take precedence.
We argue that these eight propositions capture circumstances in which
employees can devote a moment to personal Internet usage with a clear con-
science. This can be related to a point made by Persson and Hansson (2003), who
argue that as long as employees’ daily output is sufficient, they should not be
monitored, controlled, or persecuted. A contract under which the worker puts
his whole being at the employer’s disposal is uncomfortably similar to slavery.
This article emphasises that private Internet usage at work is engaged in for
different purposes and consequently must be placed in context. This article’s
particular contribution is to point out the recovery function. Briefly checking a
child’s update on Facebook does not always fulfill a work-life balance function,
and an ironic e-mail to a fellow worker is not always an expression of resistance.
Above all, a moment of surfing during working hours is not an extremely
costly and deviant behaviour. The last-mentioned claim is based on the fact that
a significant portion of mainstream research on non-work-related activities in
general, and on personal Internet usage in particular, is marred by fallacies.
First, the loss of productivity due to employees’ personal use of the Internet
is far from obvious. For many operations, there is no container full of potential
productivity just waiting to be unleashed by employees. When the paper machines
in the pulp and paper plant are running at full speed, the patients in a hospital
ward are sleeping, and taxi drivers are waiting at an airport for an arriving flight,
one may ask what exactly can these operators, nurses, and taxi drivers do to
increase their productivity. Even more importantly, when everything is running
smoothly and according to plan, how can some personal time on the Internet
(whether via the company’s computer or via a personal smartphone) result in
any loss of productivity?
Another fallacy is that people who engage in non-work-related activities (e.g.,
personal Internet usage) are deviant. Such reasoning is based on an acceptance that
management can decide every minute of the day what is and isn’t deviant. This
approach is particularly bothersome, since private activities during working hours
are at least as prevalent among people in managerial positions as among other workers.
This article has put forward the positive effects of spending some personal
time on the Internet. The individual is given a chance to recharge her or his
batteries, which most likely will result in renewed vigour and better focus. It
also provides autonomy, which is an important factor for employees. There is a
need for much more nuanced research on private Internet use at work, perhaps
including empirical testing of the eight propositions in different companies with
varying managerial approaches.
In summary, research should be broadened to include employers’ different
approaches to recovery, as well as to include industries and occupations besides
office work. This is partly due to rapid technological development, especially
the development of smartphones. The issue of what people do at work besides
working must be related to productivity, intensity, content, satisfaction, creativity,
meaning, commitment, and recovery in a balanced and open-minded way.
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... Other scholars made a distinction between minor and serious cyberloafing behaviors (Akin et al., 2017;Blanchard & Henle, 2008;J-Ho et al., 2017;Kim & Byrne, 2011;Venkatraman et al., 2018). ...
... Scholars have relied on a variety of theories to examine cyberloafing (J-Ho et al., 2017). We present a full summary of the theories used by various scholars in Appendix B, as well as a graphical representation of the key theories in Figures 2 and 3. To distinguish the key theories, we selected frequently used theories that are employed by 3 or more papers. ...
... Scholars generally rely on theories related to deviance and criminology, such as general deterrence theory, organizational justice theory, neutralization theory and general strain theory. General deterrence theory focuses on sanction, detection and enforcement, while organizational justice examines employees' perceived workplace fairness (J-Ho et al., 2017). Neutralization theory explains how people justify their actions (Sykes & Matza, 1957), and general strain theory explains that under conditions of stress and strain, people are more likely to engage in CWBs and crimes (Agnew, 1992). ...
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In an increasingly digitized world, the concept of cyberloafing has gained much attention as employees use the Internet for personal purposes during work hours. Over the last two decades, scholars have examined different aspects and types of cyberloafing in a variety of contexts, developed typologies to categorize them, and discussed the antecedents, consequences, and regulation of cyberloafing. Due to the growing interest in this topic, a comprehensive and updated review of existing literature is much needed. In this review, we examine research on cyberloafing at the workplace settings. As well, we developed and presented a research model that integrates existing studies, and propose directions for future research.
... The two spheres overlap, and cyber loafing often occurs. As (Ivarsson & Larsson, 2011) stated that its presence in the workplace may be less of a problem than employers tend to think it is. In certain situations, cyber loafing can provide a form of recovery that is beneficial to the employee, and thus to the company. ...
... In certain situations, cyber loafing can provide a form of recovery that is beneficial to the employee, and thus to the company. The usage of smartphone Problematically, Ivarsson & Larsson (2011) noted that the time spent in recovery outside of work is not enough for most people to continue coping with the physical, intellectual, social, emotional, psychic, and aesthetic demands of the work environment. 70% of workers accessing pornographic sites within hours between 9am and 5pm. ...
... A study conducted by Ivarsson & Larsson (2011) exposed that 30% of companies utilized in the pilot study and sacked employees for internet abuse use in the workplace. According to Ivarsson & Larsson (2011), "browsing pornographic sites, online gambling, online chatting and online music downloading are referred to as offensive behaviors. ...
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The usage of internet media is becoming important, and many people worldwide use the internet media as a communication tool. Internet is a medium of information, and communication technologies are highly used to provide a variety of unlimited resources and activities by individual users and organizations. This study is written to determine the effect of internet media abuse in the organization using the Theory of Planned Behavior. The design of this study is a quantitative approach through a survey questionnaire to 127 employees in the Majlis Daerah Marang, Terengganu, Malaysia. The result indicated that internet addiction and perceived need policy significantly correlated with a hobby. Besides that, job satisfaction and productivity have a significant negative effect on hobbies. Also, internet addiction and subjective norms have a significant positive relationship with information. The internet addiction and perceived need policy have a significant positive relationship with transactions. Then, this study also found that job satisfaction has a significant negative effect on transactions among employees in the Majlis Daerah Marang, Terengganu. In conclusion, this study has successfully identified the determinants of internet media abuse in the workplace using the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB). This study contributes to internet media abuse and recommendation for organization administration to combat internet media abuse among the employees.
... Generally speaking, the opposing viewpoints on cyberloafing outcomes have led scholars to discuss cyberloafing policies from two opposite perspectives (Jiang et al., 2021). The scholars' studies have suggested that cyberloafing should be allowed in some situations (Ivarsson & Larsson, 2011), and cyberloafing should not be addressed uniformly with deterrence policies. On the one hand, deterrencerelated factors are less salient in explaining cyberloafing than other factors, such as the perceived benefits of cyberloafing and personal norms against cyberloafing (Li et al., 2010;Moody & Siponen, 2013). ...
... On the other hand, deterrence policies may elicit employees' resistance, such as increased cyberloafing behavior (Wang et al., 2013;Zoghbi Manrique de Lara, 2006) and decreased job satisfaction (Jiang et al., 2020;Shepherd & Klein, 2012;Urbaczewski & Jessup, 2002). Accordingly, these studies have discussed cyberloafing policies that are less coercive (Ivarsson & Larsson, 2011). ...
The aim of this study is to find out whether cyberloafing and person‐organization fit has a positive effect on employee performance, and whether innovative work behavior plays a mediating role in this relationship. The study takes a quantitative approach using partial least squares structural equation modelling with data from 210 online questionnaires that were distributed to employees in the banking sector in Indonesia who had access to the internet at the workplace, and were allowed to use it for non‐work activities (i.e., cyberloafing). The study shows a positive relationship between innovative work behavior, and both cyberloafing and person‐organization fit. It also shows that innovative work behavior acts as a mediator between cyberloafing, person‐organization fit, and employee performance. The study advances the management literature by showing how cyberloafing and person‐organization fit influences employee performance through innovative work behavior, and provides new insights into the antecedents of cyberloafing. In addition, by clarifying the type of situations in which practitioners should adopt a positive or negative view towards cyberloafing, it provides guidance for those who wish to address the issue of cyberloafing and employee performance in their organization.
... • HR managers need to devise policies that can create a culture of "No Use of SmartPhones" as according to the Social Learning Theory, many employees cyberloaf more when they perceive that their co-workers are indulged in the same type of activities (Liberman et al., 2011). • Employees tend to involve in SL so that to revitalize or reenergize themselves as an opportunity to recover from the intensity of workload (Ivarsson & Larsson, 2011). So this proposition requires the HR managers to create an environment that vitalizes the work environment for the employees in the organization. ...
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The growing use of smartphones at workplaces necessitates investigating its reasons and consequent effects on employees’ task performance. Moreover, this paper proposes three hypotheses to test a sequential model that elucidates both the antecedents and consequences of cyberloafing activities through smartphones. Multiple sampling designs are used to collect the data through a questionnaire. The sample size is 750 with a response rate of 92%. A structured questionnaire is used by adapting items for each construct from different established instruments available in the literature. The findings reveal that job stress creates cynicism among the employees that induces them to indulge in smartphone loafing that proves to be detrimental to their task performance. However, if employees self-regulate their counterproductive behavior, it tends to mitigate the negative impact on their task performance. This paper provides substantial theoretical and practical implications for HR managers to devise policies to reduce smartphone loafing activities.
... In this case, ICT use essentially represents work inattention, though the nature of inattention can vary from relatively benign to problematic behaviors. In their broad review, Ivarsson and Larsson (2011) argued that Internet use at work for personal matters should not be strictly disciplined as a deviant issue, nor should they accepted as a normal act, because other circumstances need to be taken into consideration. For example, some uses may be perceived as being more "legitimate" than other uses (e.g., checking on a sick child versus playing games on your phone). ...
Several decades of research have addressed the role of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in industrial-organizational (I-O) psychology. However, segmented research streams with myriad terminologies run the risk of construct proliferation and lack an integrated theoretical justification of the contributions of ICT concepts. Therefore, by identifying important trends and reflecting on key constructs, findings, and theories, our review seeks to determine whether a compelling case can be made for the uniqueness of ICT-related concepts in studying employee and performance in I-O psychology. Two major themes emerge from our review of the ICT literature: (a) a technology behavior perspective and (b) a technology experience perspective. The technology behavior perspective with three subcategories (the “where” of work design, the “when” of work extension, and the “what” of work inattention) explores how individual technology use can be informative for predicting employee well-being and performance. The technology experience perspective theme with two subcategories (the “how” of ICT appraisals and “why” of motives) emphasizes unique psychological (as opposed to behavioral) experiences arising from the technological work context. Based on this review, we outline key challenges of current ICT research perspectives and opportunities for further enhancing our understanding of technological implications for individual workers and organizations.
Employee monitoring apps (i.e., 'bossware') have become increasingly affordable and accessible on the open market. Apps such as Interguard and Teramind provide companies with a powerful degree of surveillance about workers, including keystroke logging, location and browser monitoring, and even webcam usage. However, as homes have become offices, and laptops and smartphones are used for business, school, and entertainment, the increasing surveillance of 'remote work' blurs the boundaries between work and personal spaces. Drawing from an interdisciplinary study on the proliferation of employee monitoring applications (EMAs) in a nascent era of 'remote work', this paper presents findings from a survey examining Canadian companies' adoption of EMAs. The findings identify the most prevalent economic sectors that 'bossware' is currently being used within, the rationalities that underpin the ongoing use of EMAs in Canada (such as COVID-19, 'productivity/efficiency', 'cybersecurity', and 'health/wellness'), and the features of the most sought after 'bossware' apps for Canadian companies (such as time tracking, website tracking, and keystroke logging). We conclude with an analysis of how dominant surveillance discourses drive the adoption of monitoring practices, including how they inform the anticipated benefits of surveillance for the management of remote work and digital labour.
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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to determine the attractiveness or unattractiveness of cyberloafing in the workplace using Q methodology and the Kano model. Design/methodology/approach The perception of employees towards cyberloafing was investigated based on Q methodology, and then they were prioritized using Kano model. Ten IT companies were selected for the case study. In this study, a mixed method was used. First, 30 participants were interviewed. Next, after extracting the comments, Q-matrix was presented to 30 participants and they completed the matrix cells. Finally, Kano questionnaire was designed using the items obtained from Q methodology and distributed among 30 participants. Findings Q methodology led to nine perceptions, and the priorities of Kano model were proponents of increasing employees' dependence on the internet, economic thinkers, the indifferent, dissatisfied, proponents of receiving information, self-control proponents, the profit-minded, mind destroyer and satisfaction-oriented. Cyberloafing is considered unattractiveness with adverse effects. The combination of Q methodology and Kano model can improve the analysis of the results. Originality/value This study is one of the few studies in which Q methodology is improved by Kano model. In the past, Q methodology alone examined people’s perception, but by combining these two methods, it is determined which perception is more satisfying and which one is more important, and then a general result can be reached.
Technology has been criticised for blurring boundaries and making them more permeable, which has been previously portrayed as having a negative impact on work-life balance (WLB) and a cause for burnout among employees. With burnout a growing concern for organisations and governments, this thesis uses a boundary theory lens to explore the effects of technology on WLB. To improve understanding in this area, social media practitioners (SMPs) were selected as the sample to study because it could be said they are extensive users of technology and social media. Studying this group as an “extreme case” produces learnings and practices that could be applied to the rest of the social media industry and the digital workforce. Informed by a constructivist grounded theory (CGT) approach, this thesis draws from in-depth interviews with thirty-one UK SMPs and observation of an additional five SMPs, in their place of work, to investigate the role technology plays in managing boundaries between work and non-work and maintaining perceived WLB. Presented in this document are four contributions. Firstly, this thesis turns its attention to the boundaries in the digital landscape. I introduce the new term digital virtual boundary (DVB) and acknowledge how these differ from their analogue counterpart and what this means for how we manage our boundaries. This research also recognises how Clark’s (2000) “borderland” can assist role demand management and WLB when a user is within a digital virtual space. Secondly, this thesis presents a typology of new digital boundary preference groups that recognise the impact technology has on SMPs boundary preference and management. For each group, characteristics are defined so that one can identify and align themselves with the most suitable group to assist them in their boundary management style. Thirdly, technological strategies and tactics shared by my participants are listed in this thesis as a means of practices that can be adopted by others to aid them in their boundary management and technology use, to avoid burnout and maintain their ideal WLB. Lastly, the unique data collection method for this area of work, although growing in use for boundary theory, is the first time to my knowledge it has been applied to the WLB literature. Unlike its earlier counterpart grounded theory (GT), CGT places priority on the studied phenomenon over the methods of studying it and acknowledges the researcher's role in interpreting data and creating categories. This research contributes to the WLB literature and boundary theory by providing a better understanding of how employees in digital facing roles manage their boundaries and avoid burnout whilst extensively using technology. It must be noted that the data presented in this research was collected and analysed in 2019 prior to the outbreak of COVID-19. This had a significant impact not only on the way in which people work and interact with technology, but the national lockdowns have meant the majority of those employed were forced to work from home. This means now more than ever workers have undoubtedly thought about their WLB and how they manage their boundaries. This work could be of significant benefit to individuals learning to align appropriate strategies to their boundary preference.<br/
Anyone who has ever been interrupted mid task by a notification “ping” understands the deliberate attention-grabbing nature of information and communication technology (ICT). Unsurprisingly, ICT use in the workplace tends to carry a negative connotation (Richards, Reference Richards2012). Yet, there are those who acknowledge some claims that personal/nonwork-oriented ICT use during work hours can benefit individual and organizational effectiveness (Coker, Reference Coker2013; Ivarsson & Larsson, Reference Ivarsson and Larsson2011). In this commentary, we draw from self-regulation and resource theories (Beal et al., Reference Beal, Weiss, Barros and MacDermid2005; Demerouti et al., Reference Demerouti, Bakker, Nachreiner and Schaufeli2001; Kanfer & Ackerman, Reference Kanfer and Ackerman1989) to more critically examine just how beneficial it may be to use ICTs while at work. Specifically, we address claims regarding personal/nonwork ICT use at work and whether the pros (e.g., resource recovery and increased engagement) outweigh the potential harms (e.g., distraction, inattention) given that attention is a limited resource and off-task thought negatively affects performance (Randall et al., Reference Randall, Oswald and Beier2014). We further provide recommendations for practice and research to more successfully implement ICTs within the organizational context.
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The title of this article implies a continuum of oppositional workplace practices ranging from, through misbehavior, to dissent. This article gives a review of the disciplines that initially revealed this subject area. Not including the early consultancy studies, it is within the last fifty years that this subject area was even noticed, and it was well after this that it began to be seen as a field of study. There is no claim here that resistance, misbehavior, and dissent had entirely escaped attention before 1950, but, rather, there was little recognition of the range of related behavior that might be studied. Furthermore, this article gives a review of the main perspectives on this field of study today. It distinguishes four distinct perspectives: managerialist organizational behavior, labor process, post-structuralism, and feminism. Finally, it looks at resistance and misbehavior in different kinds of contemporary organizations.
People need dignity and autonomy at work. If they are denied this, there will be a strong tendency to resist working conditions and misbehave at work. This book presents and analyses stories about people’s resistance in working life that make us reflect upon how employees are treated at work and consequences thereof.
"In private life, we try to induce or suppress love, envy, and anger through deep acting or "emotion work," just as we manage our outer expressions of feeling through surface acting. In trying to bridge a gap between what we feel and what we "ought" to feel, we take guidance from "feeling rules" about what is owing to others in a given situation. Based on our private mutual understandings of feeling rules, we make a "gift exchange" of acts of emotion management. We bow to each other not simply from the waist, but from the heart. But what occurs when emotion work, feeling rules, and the gift of exchange are introduced into the public world of work? In search of the answer, Arlie Russell Hochschild closely examines two groups of public-contact workers: flight attendants and bill collectors. The flight attendant's job is to deliver a service and create further demand for it, to enhance the status of the customer and be "nicer than natural." The bill collector's job is to collect on the service, and if necessary, to deflate the status of the customer by being "nastier than natural." Between these extremes, roughly one-third of American men and one-half of American women hold jobs that call for substantial emotional labor. In many of these jobs, they are trained to accept feeling rules and techniques of emotion management that serve the company's commercial purpose. Just as we have seldom recognized or understood emotional labor, we have not appreciated its cost to those who do it for a living. Like a physical laborer who becomes estranged from what he or she makes, an emotional laborer, such as a flight attendant, can become estranged not only from her own expressions of feeling (her smile is not "her" smile), but also from what she actually feels (her managed friendliness). This estrangement, though a valuable defense against stress, is also an important occupational hazard, because it is through our feelings that we are connected with those around us. On the basis of this book, Hochschild was featured in Key Sociological Thinkers, edited by Rob Stones. This book was also the winner of the Charles Cooley Award in 1983, awarded by the American Sociological Association and received an honorable mention for the C. Wright Mills Award. © 1983, 2003, 2012 by The Regents of the University of California.