Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A qualitative study of email overload and virtual working women's self-perceived job-related stress and work-life balance
by Olund, Victoria L., Ph.D., Capella University, 2016, 213; 10127272
Abstract (Summary)

While the role of computers in the 21st century has enabled organizations to become more efficient and effective, technology has also created problems for many of its users. The research literature on the use of workplace email indicated that email is causing several problems, including an interruption of workflow/productivity, email overload, stress, and work-life imbalance. The mobile market in 2015 was exploding and showed a significant growth trend and is expected to continue. In addition, working women are an increasing population in the workforce, and even more women are working virtually. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore how an overload of workplace email was perceived by virtual working women to impact their stress levels and ability to maintain a reasonable work-life balance, in order for managers to better support and manage employee workloads. The theoretical framework for this study included Gilbert’s (2007) Behavior Engineering model (BEM) and Ashforth, Kreiner, and Fugate’s (2000) Boundary Theory. The basic qualitative method was utilized, in addition to nonprobability and purposeful, or convenience sampling. A total of 14 participants participated in the study and met the criteria to include (a) female, (b) age 25–65, (c) remote or virtual worker, (d) full-time employee, (e) work for a U.S. based organization, and experiencing or experienced overload from email. The research design included a combination of structured and semi-structured interviews. The findings revealed that virtual working women’s job performance was impacted and they experienced: (a) increased and decreased stress from workplace email; however, it was dependent upon the volume, tone and frequency of the emails (b) increased and decreased productivity from workplace email and (c) impacts on work-life balance, given the use of workplace email. Discovering virtual working women’s self-perceptions, as it relates to workplace email, stress, and work-life balance, provided valuable insights for managers to develop strategies and performance improvement interventions for dealing with email overload. Recommendations for future research to expand the study include: (a) the “millennial” population or the non-telecommuter (b) a quantitative study, (c) text overload, (d) gender differences, and (e) mental and physical health effects.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Johansen, Keith, Hardt, Paul
Commitee: Gates, John
School: Capella University
Department: School of Education
School Location: United States -- Minnesota
Source: DAI-A 77/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Adult education, Educational psychology
Keywords: Behavior engineering model, Boundary theory, Email overload, Performance improvement, Stress, Work-life balance
Publication Number: 10127272
ISBN: 978-1-339-85309-3
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