Technology has drastically reshaped the workplace over the past decades. While it provides organizations and their employees a variety of benefits, there is also a growing perception that technological advancements (e.g., the evolution from telephone to smartphone) in the workplace may have a negative impact on employees’ mental health. Using a diary approach, we examined the direct effect of workplace telepressure during off-job hours on psychological detachment from work and the potential mediating role of work-related smartphone use during off-job hours in this relation. In addition, employees’ individual differences in empathy was proposed to act as a cross-level moderator of the relation between workplace telepressure and work-related smartphone use. A sample of 80 employees, representing a wide range of occupations and organizations, completed a daily survey on five successive workdays (N = 337–400 day-level observations). Results of multilevel analyses yielded no direct effect of workplace telepressure on psychological detachment on a day-to-day basis. Yet, the results supported a negative indirect effect of daily workplace telepressure during off-job hours on daily psychological detachment, mediated via daily work-related smartphone use during off-job hours. Additionally, the relation between workplace telepressure and work-related smartphone use was not strengthened by the affective component nor the cognitive component of other-oriented empathy. Our study highlights the importance of a clear organizational policy regarding work-related smartphone use during off-job hours and provides valuable input for strategies aiming to ameliorate employees’ psychological detachment and proper smartphone use.

diary study, empathy, psychological detachment, smartphone use, telepressure
dx.doi.org/10.5334/pb.477, hdl.handle.net/1765/123589
Psychologica Belgica
Department of Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Cambier, R, Derks-Theunissen, D.A.J.A, & Vlerick, P. (2019). Detachment from Work: A Diary Study on Telepressure, Smartphone Use and Empathy. Psychologica Belgica, 59(1), 227–245. doi:10.5334/pb.477