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The exaggerated reports of offices' demise: the strength of weak workplace ties

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In this chapter we review interview evidence gathered between May and July 2020 in order to understand the effect that working from home during the pandemic has had on workers and to assess the likelihood of office work becoming more permament. We show that whilst workers enjoy working from home and would like to continue doing so part of the time, they also miss working in offices. Furthermore, the items and activities our interviewees miss about office work (informal chats, quick communication, social connection) may be the very items that, in the long term, allow teams and companies to function efficiently as organisations.
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This article critically assesses the assumption that more and more work is being detached from place and that this is a ‘win-win’ for both employers and employees. Based on an analysis of official labour market data, it finds that only one-third of the increase in remote working can be explained by compositional factors such as movement to the knowledge economy, the growth in flexible employment and organisational responses to the changing demographic make-up of the employed labour force. This suggests that the detachment of work from place is a growing trend. This article also shows that while remote working is associated with higher organisational commitment, job satisfaction and job-related well-being, these benefits come at the cost of work intensification and a greater inability to switch off.
There is currently considerable interest in workers performing tasks from a variety of workplaces, such as co-working spaces, transport-networks and cafés. However, it remains difficult to ascertain the extent to which this workplace mobility is altering urban economic geography, since most analyses of the location of economic activity in cities are based upon census-type data that assume a unique place-of-work for each worker. In this paper I propose a framework that extends the concept of place-of work: work is probabilistically assigned to different types of workplace according to the proportion of work-time spent in each. The limitations of census data are discussed and illustrated, after which the framework is operationalized in an exploratory survey. Census data suggest a modest increase in workplace mobility, with most work still taking place either at home or in a fixed workplace. The paper's principal contribution is to explain these data's limitations and show how work location can be operationalized as a probability space. THIS IS THE FINAL AUTHOR'S VERSION
Recently, the popularity of smart phones has brought about changes in how people work and take breaks. This paper focuses on whether taking a break with a smart phones (e.g., browsing the internet or using social network services) has a different association with regaining vitality after ‘conventional breaks’ (e.g., walking or chatting face to face with friends). We surveyed a total of 450 workers in Korea with a diary questionnaire to see if there were differences in the effects of breaks via two theoretical paths of association: positively in terms of vigor and negatively in terms of emotional exhaustion. Empirical results show that psychological detachments by breaks, independent of break modes, did increase vigor and reduce emotional exhaustion, consistent with the existing literature. However, we also found that the effects, particularly in reducing emotional exhaustion, were significantly lower for the smart phone break group versus the conventional group. We discuss some theoretical and practical implications of these findings.
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