Article title: Out of Sight, Out of Mind? How and When Cognitive Role Transition Episodes
From Human Relations
Leaving work at the office and home at the door may not always be the best strategy for employee well-being and performance, finds this study. Traditionally it has been thought that in order to maintain concentration and high performance, employees needed to have a strict separation between home and work. However, new research suggests that in fact integration across both domains reduces the impact of moving between home and work roles while also preserving employees’ ability to be effective in their jobs.
“In the long run, it may be better to allow employees’ minds to wander and take occasional phone calls from home rather than set up policies that establish strict and inflexible boundaries, which could discourage the development of functional ways to juggle both”, argue the researchers. “Overall, our findings suggest that integration, rather than segmentation, may be a better long-term boundary management strategy for minimizing resource depletion and maintaining higher levels of job performance during inevitable work–family role transitions.”
A widely-cited proposition in boundary theory states that it is difficult for individuals to transition between roles, especially when these roles are highly segmented. Surprisingly, this hypothesis has not been directly tested. We provide an empirical test of these propositions and draw from the self-regulation literature to expand boundary theory in exploring how episodes of cognitive role transitions impact job performance. We propose that cognitive role transitioning is cognitively demanding, which consumes the limited executive control resources that facilitate effective job performance. In a multilevel study of 619 employees providing 4371 episodes, we observed that work-to-family cognitive role transitioning was negatively related to job performance, and this effect was mediated by self-regulatory depletion. Although individuals with greater role integration were somewhat more likely to experience cognitive role transitions than those with segmented roles, these individuals were also buffered from the self-regulatory depletion that impairs effective job performance. Overall, these findings suggest that integration, rather than segmentation, may be a better long-term boundary management strategy for minimizing self-regulatory depletion and maintaining higher levels of job performance during inevitable work–family role transitions.
Brandon W Smit, Patrick W Maloney, Carl P Maertz, Jr, and Tamara Montag-Smit
Out of sight, out of mind? How and when cognitive role transition episodes influence employee performance
Human Relations 0018726716636204, first published on May 3, 2016 doi:10.1177/0018726716636204