Exploring the role of information and communication technology on employees' work and family domains
De Wet, Johannes Willem
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Technology has become part of society’s everyday functions, changing rapidly and providing widespread mobility. In South Africa alone, the amount of internet users grew from 8,5 million to 24,9 million in only three years (2011-2014). Currently 90% of these users access this facility from their mobile devices. This statistic illustrates the trend that South Africans are moving towards a continually connected lifestyle, a situation in which information and communication technology (ICT) seems to have become omnipresent. Due the rapid growth of ICT technology and its adoption into people’s lives (both personally and professionally) the influence of such a phenomenon needed to be investigated to understand its impact on individuals and society. Thus, the objective of the present research was to explore the role ICT plays in employees’ work and family domain. The research followed a qualitative research approach and made use of snowball sampling. The sample of participants (N=25) were mostly employees from a professional organisation. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to collect data and the interviews were recorded, transcribed and processed through thematic analyses. The analyses revealed the following four main themes with sub-themes flowing from it: 1) the usage of ICT; 2) the role of ICT usage; 3) the challenges relating to ICT usage; and 4) managing work-life interaction by using ICT. Theme 2 lend itself to be sub-divided into four minor subthemes namely: 1) the positive role of ICT usage; 2) the negative role of ICT usage; 3) the role ICT plays in relationships; and 4) the increased expectations brought about by ICT usage. The current research was not without certain limitations, which should be noted. The researcher only investigated the employees themselves and did not extend the unit of analysis to include the household of employees (esp. the partner or spouse). In addition, the majority of the participants were Afrikaans-speaking males, which is not a true reflection of the multicultural society of South Africa promoting gender equality in the work place. Based on the findings of the present research, various recommendations could be made. Future research could firstly enlarge the sample to be more representative of South Africa’s multicultural and diverse society, and secondly, to include the partner or spouse of employees. Organisations should also consider the implementation of various policies on ICT usage. These directives could include the following: a policy to ensure across the board ICT implementation; an after-work hours policy to ensure as little as possible infringement on employees work-life interaction; and a hierarchical policy ensuring the correct communication channels are followed. Lastly, future research could also do multiple comparative studies on the differences between the degree of ICT adoption, or the amount of ICT devices employees utilise and the impact this has on their work-life interaction. Such research can also investigate how the decrease in face-to-face communication impacts social interaction in both the work and nonwork domains and thereby affects employees’ work-life interaction.