Working from home changes not just the physical but also the psychological environment (Thatcher & Xiumei, 2006) within which an employee operates in. Here they navigate and balance both their identity as an employee and other identities (i.e., parent, spouse, etc) at the same time. Covid 19 seems to have expediated the working from concept which has been touted as the next wave of workplace revolution – a circle of life concept that has moved us from the pre-industrial cottage industries to the post-industrial virtual and electronic cottage industries (Tietze & Musson, 2010).
While the utopian work-life balanced (Toffler, 1980) nature of this new cottage industry may be within our reach at some stage we are not there yet. Employers and employees are learning together and trying to find the sweetspot between their personal and organisational identities. Bringing kids into this equation (with kids out of school due to Covid 19) adds another dimension to the conundrum. On the one hand staff strive to “get the job done well’ while simultaneously trying to juggle distractions from kids who only want ‘quality’ time. This leave parents/employee psychological torn between two contradicting demands.
Perhaps organisations may be able to enhance their identity and improve staff morae by introducing a children’s section on the intranet where kids can pretend to be part of the organisation. They can ‘work from home’ on projects designed for kids. Organisations may be able to promote the kids work on their intranet site. This way parents are psychologically motivated to work, and organisations create an environment where is congruence between a person’s workplace identity and other (home) identity. Organisations may even find that kids come up with innovative ideas that may reap $$$$ rewards for the organisation.
What are you doing to creating congruence between an employee’s work and home identity? What technologies are you using to achieve this congruence?
-Dr Sneha Gray, specialises in people, place and identity
- Thatcher, S. M. B., & Xiumei, Z. (2006). Changing identities in a changing workplace: Identification, identity enactment, self-verification, and telecommuting. Academy of Management Review, 31(4), 1076. doi:10.5465/AMR.2006.22528174
- Tietze, S., & Musson, G. (2010). Identity, identity work and the experience of working from home. Journal of Management Development, 29(2), 148-156. doi:10.1108/02621711011019288
- Toffler, A. (1980). The third wave (1st ed.. ed.). New York: New York : Morrow 1980.