The increased use of information and communication technology (ICT) among employees: implications for work-life interaction
De Wet, Wihan
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Technology has become one of society's everyday functional tools, changing rapidly and providing widespread mobility. In South Africa alone, the number of Internet users grew from 8,5 million to 24,9 million in only three years (2011-2014). Currently, 90 per cent of these users access this facility from their mobile devices. Statistics illustrate that South Africans are moving towards a continuously connected lifestyle, a situation in which information and communication technology (ICT) seems to have become ubiquitous. Given the rapid growth of ITC technology and its absorption into people's lives (both personally and professionally), the general aim of the present research was to investigate the use of ICT among employees and how it affects their work-life interaction (WLI). The researcher employed a qualitative research approach in accordance with which a sample of 25 employees was interviewed. Interviews were recorded, transcribed and processed by means of thematic analyses. Three themes with corresponding sub-themes were extracted: use of ICT (i.e. in both work and family domains); challenges that ICT use presents; and the way in which employees manage their WLI by means of ICT. The participants experienced WLI as mostly negative. However, they also mentioned two different approaches that helped them manage interaction between their work and family domains. These approaches entail 1) applying limits to their use of ICT, and 2) using ICT to create flexibility. This article advises that organisations should consider adopting ICT to assist their employees in the management of these two domains. This could be done in two ways. First, organisations could implement a code of conduct or provide guidelines for eliminating the intrusive and excessive use of ICT, especially after working hours. Secondly, organisations could pilot or implement flexible working hours and possible telecommuting initiatives.