In the article called “New ways of working: does flexibility in time and location of work change work behavior and affect business outcomes?” Blok et al. discuss factors that impact the increase of productivity and economic growth in business environments. The objective of the article is to identify ways to maximize efficiency at the workplace.
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The authors examine an approach called New Ways of Working (NWW) as a hypothetical way to increase flexibility of the time and location of work in order to improve business outcomes (Blok et al. 5075). The discussed research is made in a form of a case study.
The authors describe the working process of three departments including 73 employees in total (the demographics of the participants represent the independent variables, whereas all the other data such as job satisfaction, level of collaboration, workplace flexibility and knowledge sharing are dependent on the impact of the NWW). The departments shifted from the traditional way of working to the new one.
The research methods employed by Blok et al. include 2 questionnaires held six months apart, and a measurement system called [email protected] These tools were used to evaluate the effects of new way of working within a Dutch organization. Overall, the article by Blok et al. is consistent, presents detailed data, clearly introduces the research question and thoroughly discusses the findings.
The purpose of the study is to investigate the efficiency of the new way of working and how it is able to enhance the working process of people and a company in general. The description of the research begins with an introduction; it explains that the NWW works on 4 main aspects introducing changes to physical workplace, technology, organizational culture, and management (Blok et al. 5075).
He authors educate the reader about the NWW in order to clarify the objective of the paper and what is intended to research. Introduction is detailed and contains multiple references to the works of other authors in order to demonstrate the reliability and validity of the presented information.
Besides, the introduction introduces the company under analysis and the changes that the NWW has brought there. The introduction ends with a clearly stated research question: “What are the effects of new ways of working in a task facilitating office on work behavior, and does this positively affect collaboration, employee satisfaction and knowledge sharing?” (Blok et al. 5076).
At the same time, there is no clearly stated hypothesis and the research does not have a literature review section. Besides, the abstract of the paper does not state the findings of the research that is rather useful and important information. Methodology of the study assumes that the participants were fully informed about the purpose of the research.
This way, ethical standard are followed and the employees sampled for the study take part in the research willingly. In fact, their awareness of the NWW changes was one of the necessary conditions for the questionnaire. The ways the data collection and evaluation were conducted are described in details, new abbreviations, terms and concepts (such as the NWW and [email protected]) are explained properly.
The reliability and validity of the measuring instrument used by the authors is stated briefly in a sentence “In order to measure actual behavioral changes in work place and location a ‘[email protected]’ system was developed and tested” (Blok et al. 5077). The demographics of the participants are mentioned briefly as well.
The employees of the three departments launching the NWW were the source of data for the research, judging from the number of the participants (73 respondents for the first questionnaire and 60 for the second one), the data is reliable. The results of the questionnaires and [email protected] were presented using descriptive statistics. Only the answers of the respondents who took part in both questionnaires were mentioned to detect the changes that occurred over time.
Further, the statistical data collected during both parts of the research (first and second questionnaires) is presented in forms of tables and charts for better visibility and comparison. The vast majority of the sample participated at both stages of the research. The questions targeted the time and location of the work, overall job satisfaction, changes in work behavior, the levels of collaboration and knowledge sharing among the employees.
The findings of the research did not show a 100% positive result. Moreover, some variables decreased over time. This was rather confusing because generally the employees were aware of the opportunities and new resources the NWW provided, yet they were reluctant to embrace the changes. At the same time, the findings confirmed the hypothesis that the implementation of the NWW enforces the changes in the workplace behavior of the employees and managers (Blok et al. 5080).
The authors mention that the main limitation of the research is that the NWW objectives and changes are difficult to isolate from the other changes of the workplace environments, processes and behaviors. This way, measuring the outcomes of the NWW is complicated. The authors also recommend that in the further similar researches the scholars are to keep an eye on the situation at the workplace they evaluate sometime before and a while after the period directly outlined in the research.
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Besides, the researchers note that in their case the implementation of the NWW had already started by the time the first questionnaire was held. The authors suspect that the insignificance of the research results could have been partly caused by this.
Moreover, the authors intend to conduct another research of this kind in the future with some alterations (it will target all four dimensions of the NWW changes), they expect it to demonstrate the changes in workplace behavior more clearly. In conclusion, the article by Blok et al. is well researched.
It relies on valid literature and an assessment tool that has been tested in previous researches. Besides, the study collects statistical and descriptive data from a significant sample. Moreover, the article contains a clear introduction, explanations of all the new concepts, terms and abbreviations, provides charts and tables for visual demonstration of the results, and a discussion of the research findings that mentions the limitations of the study and contains recommendations for the future research.
To strengthen the validity of the study it would be best to select a workplace that is new to the NWW and follow its implementation to detect all the changes it may cause. Besides, it would be wise to measure the changes imposed by the new ways of working on a variety of levels including the flexibility of the workplace (time and location), organizational culture, management and communications, and the technologies and resources.
Regardless of how well researched the article is, it still does not provide an efficient way to evaluate the NWW changes fully and with an appropriate follow-up which means that it can serve as a valuable basis for the future research in this field.
Blok, Merle, M., Liesbeth Groenesteijn, Roos Schelvis and Peter Vink. “New ways of working: does flexibility in time and location of work change work behavior and affect business outcomes?” Work 41 (2012): 5075-5080. Print.