Flexibility in Digitalized Working Worlds: Use and implications of telework and digital work communication

Universität Bielefeld


In the current debate about the digitalization of work, the promise of locational flexibility is one of the most prominent features. Digital infrastructures have increasingly made it possible for workers to communicate with supervisors and colleagues and to access work-related data and information from anywhere, regardless of their location and official working hours.

According to existing research, this digitally induced flexibility may be associated with both risks and opportunities. On the one hand, such studies suggest that employers may take advantage of such flexibility by expecting employees to be more available for work; on the other hand, digitally induced flexibility may be a way for employees to better integrate their work and personal lives.

Research question

This project asks about the interplay of digital infrastructures and societal institutions for the realization of flexibility interests of employers and/or flexibility interests of employees. Increased work accessibility in the form of digital work communication and telework and involved work-life conflicts serve to investigate the realization of these flexibility interests.

The project further asks how employee perceived organizational work culture and involved expectations of (digital) accessibility mediate or counteract national influences. Gender and occupation specific patterns of digitally induced flexibility and involved consequences for gender inequalities in the labor market are also considered. In the background of current developments the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences receives additional attention.


To investigate the research questions the project uses survey data of employees from more than 25 countries who participated in the rotating module “Digital Social Contacts in Work and Family Life” of the European Social Survey 2021.

The data will be linked with country specific information and analyzed with the help of hierarchical regression analyses.

Uni Bielefeld
Prof. Dr. Anja-Kristin Abendroth
Project lead

Universität Bielefeld

Fakultät für Soziologie

+49 521 106-12179
Laura Lükemann
Research Associate

Universität Bielefeld

Fakultät für Soziologie

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