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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01808

Daily Fluctuations in Smartphone Use, Psychological Detachment, and Work Engagement: The Role of Workplace Telepressure

  • 1Department of Work and Organizational Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • 2Department of Work and Organizational Psychology, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands

Today’s work environment is shaped by the electronic age. Smartphones are important tools that allow employees to work anywhere and anytime. The aim of this diary study was to examine daily smartphone use after and during work and their association with psychological detachment (in the home domain) and work engagement (in the work domain), respectively. We explored whether workplace telepressure, which is a strong urge to respond to work-related messages and a preoccupation with quick response times, promotes smartphone use. Furthermore, we hypothesized that employees experiencing high workplace telepressure would have more trouble letting go of the workday during the evening and feel less engaged during their workday to the extent that they use their smartphone more intensively across domains. A total of 116 employees using their smartphones for work-related purposes completed diary questionnaires on five workdays (N = 476 data points) assessing their work-related smartphone use, psychological detachment after work, and engagement during work. Workplace telepressure was measured as a between-individual variable and only assessed at the beginning of the study, as well as relevant control variables such as participants’ workload and segmentation preference (a preference for work and home domains to be as segmented as possible). Multilevel path analyses revealed that work-related smartphone use after work was negatively related to psychological detachment irrespective of employees’ experienced workplace telepressure, and daily smartphone use during work was unrelated to work engagement. Supporting our hypothesis, employees who reported high telepressure experienced less work engagement on days that they used their smartphone more intensively during work. Altogether, intensive smartphone use after work hampers employees’ psychological detachment, whereas intensive smartphone use during work undermines their work engagement only when employees experience high workplace telepressure as well. Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.

Keywords: workplace telepressure, Smartphone use, Psychological detachment, work engagement, day-level relations

Received: 25 May 2018; Accepted: 05 Sep 2018.

Edited by:

Annamaria Di Fabio, Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italy

Reviewed by:

Gary L. Mangiofico, Pepperdine University, United States
Gary Pheiffer, University of Hertfordshire, United Kingdom  

Copyright: © 2018 Van Laethem, Van Vianen and Derks. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence:
Dr. Michelle Van Laethem, University of Amsterdam, Department of Work and Organizational Psychology, Amsterdam, Netherlands, m.vanlaethem@uva.nl
Prof. Annelies E. Van Vianen, University of Amsterdam, Department of Work and Organizational Psychology, Amsterdam, Netherlands, A.E.M.vanVianen@uva.nl