Work-Life Imbalance of IT Workers in the Internet Age

Work-Life Imbalance of IT Workers in the Internet Age

Helen Richardson (The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, New Zealand) and Darrell Bennetts (The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, New Zealand)
Copyright: © 2007 |Pages: 51
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-917-5.ch003


These days, no information technology (IT) manager or worker will have escaped the expectation from a client that a job needed to be completed “yesterday.” The field of information systems (IS) research is only beginning to develop models for understanding the emerging issue of workload pressures upon IT workers, and their consequent need to maintain a balance between work and home. IT organisations need to consider how they manage their IT workers, departing from the traditional efficiency approach to staff management, and moving towards one better suited to the globalised environment within which businesses now operate. In its two parts, this chapter will consider the challenges of work-life balance that IT workers increasingly face. These days, IT workers are more vulnerable than other work employment groups to the pressure of contemporary workload expectations and deadlines. Research in the fields of sociology and psychology can help fill in detail on this emerging issue, otherwise absent from contemporary IS research. Sociology and Psychology can help IT practitioners better understand the increasing human cost of the currently increasing commercial pressures. In its first part, this chapter utilises some straightforward sociological concepts to background how “top down” or strategic management of IT workers could be improved within the IT sector. Sociologists have long had a strong interest in social change, in the ways in which both work and non-work (“leisure”) activities are changing within an increasingly globalised world. Many IT workers are now suffering both physical and mental symptoms due to commonplace business management approaches, which ultimately forgo long-term business profitability for short-term bottom lines. The second part of this chapter utilises the understanding of emotional intelligence within psychology and applies it as a bottom up strategy to illustrate how IT workers can cope with work-life imbalance. Here, a case study illustrates how the emotional qualities of resilience and adaptability that some IT workers possess can enable them to overcome work-life imbalances within the pressured context of globalised IT production. Leading on from the case study, the chapter will provide guidance on how IT workers might foster these qualities using HR techniques from the recently developed field of emotional intelligence. By utilising what have so far been interrelated, yet also independent, discussions within sociology and psychology on the effects of the Internet Age upon IT workers, this chapter aims to provide a balanced approach to the intellectual and emotional management of IT workers.

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