An orchestrated negotiated exchange: trading home-based telework for intensified work
Bathini, Dharma Raju
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In this paper, we explore a popular flexible work arrangement (FWA), home-based telework, in the Indian IT industry. We show how IT managers used the dominant meanings of telework to portray telework as an employee benefit that outweighed the attendant cost—intensified work. While using their discretion to grant telework, the managers drew on this portrayal to orchestrate a negotiated exchange with their subordinates. Consequently, the employees consented to accomplish the intensified work at home in exchange of telework despite their opposition to the intensified work in the office. Thus, whereas the extant studies consider work intensification as an unanticipated outcome of using FWAs, we show how firms may use FWAs strategically to get office-based intensified work accomplished at home. While the dominant argument is that employees reciprocate the opportunity to telework with intensified work, we show a discursively orchestrated negotiation that favors management. A corrective policy measure is to frame telework as an employee right.
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