Author(s), Title and Publication
Xie, J., Ma, H., Zhou, Z. E., & Tang, H. (2018). Work-related use of information and communication technologies after hours (W_ICTs) and emotional exhaustion: A mediated moderation model. Computers in Human Behavior79, 94-104. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2017.10.023

Summary
With the development of information and communication technologies (ICTs), work-related use of information and communication technologies after hours (W_ICTs) has been found to have an extensive and profound influence on employees’ work and family lives. The authors of this study tested the effect of W_ICTs on emotional exhaustion and investigated its boundary conditions. They conducted two studies with two different samples to test their hypotheses. In Study 1, data from 447 Chinese college counselors tested the effect of W_ICTs on emotional exhaustion and the moderating role of work-home integration preference on this relationship. Individuals with high work-home integration preference would like to integrate work and family roles by creating highly permeable boundaries around the family domain, whereas individuals with high work-home segmentation preference would like to keep their work domain separate from their family domain. Thus, the authors predicted that the positive relationship between W_ICTs and work schedule and location control would be stronger for individuals with higher work-home integration preference than for those with lower work-home integration preference. Study 2, with a sample of 340 full-time employees from different companies in different industries in China, replicated findings from Study 1, and then further tested whether work schedule and location control mediated the moderating effect of work-home integration preference. Work schedule and location control is part of the broader concept of job control which is defined as an individual’s ability to control his or her own activities and skill usage.

The results from both studies found that W_ICTs positively predicted emotional exhaustion at low but not at high levels of work-home integration preference. For individuals with higher work-home integration preference, W_ICTs has no impact on emotional exhaustion. Further, work schedule and location control acted as a mediating variable. Specifically, the effect of the interaction (between W_ICTs and work-home integration preference) on emotional exhaustion was fully mediated by work schedule and location control. The authors also found that W_ICTs was associated with employees’ work schedule and location control in different ways, depending on their work-home integration preference, and that work schedule and location control is negatively related to emotional exhaustion. For individuals with higher work-home integration preference, W_ICTs was related with an increased perception of control over work schedule and location, which can potentially prevent employees from experiencing emotional exhaustion.

Implications for Practice
Organizations should (1) be aware of the potential effect of W_ICTs on emotional exhaustion, at least for certain employees, and develop appropriate intervention or support programs, (2) provide opportunities to match W_ICTs and employee preferences, and (3) increase the sense of control employees feel over their work schedule and location.

Location of Article
This article is available online at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0747563217305964 (abstract free, purchase full article)

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Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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