Work arrangement “yo-yo”: Forced flexibility from the office to home and back again

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Personnel Review




School of Business and Law




Western Australian Government


Jogulu, U., Green, N., Franken, E., Vassiley, A., Bentley, T., & Onnis, L. A. (2023). Work arrangement “yo-yo”: forced flexibility from the office to home and back again. Personnel Review. Advance online publication.


Purpose: This study explored one form of remote working – work from home – to understand the impact of work disruptions on workers and human resource management (HRM) practice and therefore how to adapt to future crises. Specifically, the purpose is to understand the impact of events on employees when they are forced to move back and forth (yo-yoing) between work from home and a central office, using the case of Perth, Western Australia (WA). Design/methodology/approach: Thirty-nine interviews with leaders, managers and co-workers working in private and public organisations suggest that forced changes to work arrangements affect job content and demands, well-being and potentially career trajectories. Findings: The authors critically applied and developed the tenets of event system theory (EST) (novelty, disruption and criticality) by analysing an ongoing or “long” event rather than a discrete or time-limited one. The study found that the work-from-home experience influenced the individual perception of whether remote working would suit employees in the future, potentially influencing career paths. In addition, the selection of locations to live, preferred properties (e.g. home office space) and access to services (e.g. broadband infrastructure) has also become dominant features of work decisions. Research limitations/implications: While the study generated rich data, it is not without limitations. The participants were from one Australian state which may not reflect the COVID-19 experiences of other jurisdictions. In addition, the participants were mostly female so this may offer a different perspective than a more gender-balanced sample. The study was limited to the perspectives of employees and middle managers. Practical implications: The authors note three areas of implications for practitioners. First, the findings suggest that strong organisational and HRM support assists employees to cope well with change. Second, the importance of technological and social preparedness in improving employee experiences highlights the role of HRM in job design. Third, it is key that salient events are recognised as potential determinants of career pathways. Originality/value: The evidence from this research broadens the application of EST showing that forced flexibility has an influence on work arrangements by influencing a series of changes in features of work and experiences of employees. As such, this impacts employee's well-being and potentially future career decisions.



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