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Controlling working time in the ward and on the line

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Frank Mueller


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Purpose - The purpose of this article is to assess whether tele-nursing in Scotland (NHS24), when compared with traditional face-to-face nursing, facilitates greater employee control over working time and therefore a potentially better work-life balance. Design/methodology/approach - The article draws on evidence from two independent research projects; a survey of 64 ward nurses and midwives, which involved face-to-face interviews; and a field study of tele-nursing in a large site in Scotland, using interviews and observations of 15 nurse advisors or tele-nurses. Findings - Three elements of work organisation are central in shaping nurses' working hours and their control over the balance between their work and their home life: the management of working hours; the degree of mutual dependency of nurses within teams; and the nature of patient care. Research limitations/implications - The two pieces of research reported offer a strong basis for comparative study. However, the two projects were designed independently, though research questions overlapped and one researcher conducted the field work in both settings; there is an imbalance in the number of interviews conducted in each setting; and the nurse advisor interviewees are of the same clinical grade, whereas a variety of grades and clinical areas are represented among the hospital nurse interviewees. Originality/value - This is the first study of work-life balance amongst tele-nurses. The research demonstrates that call centre work has rationalised, depersonalised and yet enabled more "control" by nurses over their work-life balance, while paradoxically offering less autonomy in their task environment. In conventional work settings professional values make it difficult for nurses to disengage from the workplace.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Wise S, Smith C, Valsecchi R, Mueller F, Gabe J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Employee Relations

Year: 2007

Volume: 29

Issue: 4

Pages: 352-366

Print publication date: 01/01/2007

ISSN (print): 0142-5455

ISSN (electronic): 1758-7069

Publisher: Emerald Group Publishing Limited


DOI: 10.1108/01425450710759190


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