Page 187 - WHERE WE WORK - Schlegelmilch
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Where work can be conducted has changed considerably over the years. Freelancers and employees alike have left the Taylorist cubicle farms (Saval, 2016) to work ‘anywhere, anytime’ (Chayka, 2018). For example, knowledge workers can be found in locations such as cafés, at the airport, or at home (Boell et al., 2016; Gandini, 2015). At the same time, workers have also become more mobile between various locations (e.g., Aguinis & Lawal, 2013; Ashford et al., 2007; Colbert et al., 2016) as digital technology enables them to work irrespective of a specific geographic location (Barley et al., 2017; Kiesler & Cummings, 2002; Porter & van den Hooff, 2020).
Prior research has studied topics such as trust and control (Bailey & Kurland, 2002; Sewell & Taskin, 2015), technology use (Ciolfi & de Carvalho, 2014; Leonardi et al., 2010; Mazmanian et al., 2013), or conflict across distance (Hinds & Bailey, 2003). What receives less attention is the fact that all digital work is still conducted by workers within a physical environment, which can hinder or support the workers’ efforts (Brown & O’Hara, 2003; Irving et al., 2019). Thus, the underlying spatial configurations of digital work are being left in the background and workers’ experiences of them overlooked. To understand how the physical workplace matters in digital work I address the following research question in this dissertation using qualitative and quantitative methods:
What are the theoretical and practical implications of the physical workplace for digital workers?
In the first study (chapter 2), I examine in-depth how digital nomads – who combine working with traveling for pleasure and digitize work processes to achieve location-independence (Reichenberger, 2017) – create temporary work environments. I show how they solve the challenges of nomadic work: working across a variety of places, conduct focused work, and embed socially. I do so by taking an affordance lens in our qualitative study of these highly mobile knowledge workers. Through interviews and observations, I discover that these knowledge workers enact three

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