People are working around the clock communicating with one another on the electronic platform even after work. We examined the outcomes of Working through Information and Communication Technologies after Hours (W_ICTs), and attempted to delineate the mechanism of W_ICTs. Findings of previous researches on W_ICTs’ were inconsistent in terms of their impacts on people’s work and life, with some being positive while others being negative. This obscured people’s general perceptions of the possible effects of W_ICTs’, thus challenging our recommendation on the management of W_ICTs. Furthermore, previous studies on the mechanism of W_ICTs focused more on the impact on the individuals or the organizations, without considering the effect on individuals’ spouses. Most previous studies were also limited in the sense that they had been conducted in the western cultural context, with a lack of localized research in the Chinese culture. The present study based on the Spillover-Crossover Effect among dual-earner Chinese couples, therefore, is intended to fill the gap by investigating the positive and negative effects of W_ICTs on the well-being of both husbands and wives in China.
The study surveyed 278 Chinese dual-earner couples who had fixed working hours. They completed the W_ICTs scale, the work-to-family conflict scale, the work-to-family facilitation scale, the social undermining scale, the work satisfaction scale and the marital satisfaction scale. In the study, ‘whether the couples have children under the age of 18’ and ‘whether the couples’ parents help with the children’s housework’ were treated as control variables. The structural equation model, the dyadic data analysis method, and the bias corrected bootstrap method were used to examine the research hypotheses.
The results showed that: (1) W_ICTs was positively related to work-to-family conflict and work-to-family facilitation; (2) work-to-family conflict was positively related to spouses’ social undermining, while work-to-family facilitation was negatively related to it; (3) wives’ social undermining induced the same behavior of husbands, but not vice versa; (4) both wives’ and husbands’ well-being had a mutually significant positive impact on each other; (5) W_ICTs could aggravate work-to-family conflict and induce the social undermining between the couples, further reducing the couples’ well-being, simultaneously promoting work-to-family facilitation, reducing social undermining between the couples, further raising the couples’ well-being. On the whole, however, wives’ W_ICTs could reduce husbands’ well-being significantly, while husbands’ W_ICTs could not.
This study can provide guidance for organization management practices. From the perspective of the organization, as that W_ICTs can increase not only work-to-family conflict but also work-to-family facilitation, managers should cope with employees’ W_ICTs accordingly. From the perspective of employees, considering that the social undermining between the couples is an important mediator variable, employees can set boundaries of W_ICTs and communicate more with their spouses to inhibit W_ICTs’ negative influence. Furthermore, the result suggested that wives’ W_ICTs could reduce significantly their own and their husbands’ well-being, so organizations had better take into account female employees’ family role, when establishing border management or family friendly policies.