Original Research

People management implications of virtual workplace arrangements

K. Ortlepp, X. Hloma
Acta Commercii | Vol 6, No 1 | a86 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ac.v6i1.86 | © 2006 K. Ortlepp, X. Hloma | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 December 2006 | Published: 06 December 2006

About the author(s)

K. Ortlepp, University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa
X. Hloma, University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa

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Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to investigate the factors that led to an organisation implementing a particular form of virtual workplace arrangement, namely, home-based work. The benefits and disadvantages associated with this form of work arrangement are explored from both the managers' and home-based employees' perspectives.

Design/Methodology/Approach: Given the exploratory nature of the empirical study on which this paper is based, a qualitative research design was adopted so as to ensure that the data collection process was dynamic and probing in nature. Semi-structured in-depth interviews were therefore used as instruments for data collection.

Findings: The research findings indicate that virtual work arrangements such as home-based work arrangements have advantages for both employers and employees. For instance, reduction of costs associated with office space and facilities, decrease in absenteeism rates, increased employee job satisfaction and improvements in employees' general quality of life. However, a number of negative experiences related to this form of virtual work arrangement are also evident, for example, feelings of isolation as well as stress related to the inability to have firm boundaries between work and family responsibilities.

Implications: Based on the insights gained from the findings in the empirical study, a number of areas that need to be given specific attention when organisations are introducing virtual workplace arrangements of this nature are identified. Recommendations made in this article are important for human resource management specialists as well as core business policy makers considering different forms of organisational design.

Originality/Value: Maximising the quality of production and service provided has become the prime objective in most organisations in the 21st century. Technology has made it possible for some jobs to be performed at any place at any time and has facilitated the introduction of virtual workplace arrangements. A focus on the people management implications of virtual work arrangements is a relatively new field of study and one that is likely to gain in importance as organisations consider less traditional organisational forms as part of their strategy to ensure success in the global economy of the 21st century.


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