Thesis defence: Sulakshana De Alwis

Thesis defence

Date: Friday 6 October 2023

Time: 13.00 – 16.00

Location: Aula Nod, DSV, Borgarfjordsgatan 12, Kista

Welcome to a thesis defence at DSV! Sulakshana De Alwis presents his thesis which deals with the development in ICT and our work–life balance. What are the pitfalls of flexibility and connectivity?

On October 6, 2023, Sulakshana De Alwis will present his PhD thesis at the Department of Computer and Systems Sciences (DSV), Stockholm University. The title of the thesis is “Technology-Assisted Supplemental Work in Sri Lanka; the role of information communication technologies in work-life boundaries and work-life conflict”.

The defence takes place at DSV in Kista, starting at 13:00 pm.
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PhD student: Sulakshana De Alwis, DSV
Opponent: Professor Lotta Dellve, Gothenburg University
Main supervisor: Patrik Hernwall, DSV
Supervisor: Professor Arosha Adikaram, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka

The thesis can be downloaded from Diva

Contact Sulakshana De Alwis



Due to increased affordability and accessibility, information and communication technologies (ICTs) are omnipresent in the daily life of many individuals and inadvertently influence how people think, feel, and react in day-to-day life experiences. Workplaces are increasingly becoming less bounded by place and time, offering employees to connect with work anywhere, anytime.

Limitless connectivity enabled by ICTs has created paradoxical experiences for employees. On the one hand, connectivity increases flexibility empowering employees to work whenever they prefer and wherever they want to be. On the other hand, connectivity creates after-hour expectations where employees are expected to be available anytime to work (i.e. Technology Assisted Supplemental Work – TASW). However, ICTs alone cannot create these paradoxical experiences, and it is the constitutive entanglements between ICTs, social, organisational and individual factors that create parodical experiences.

Employing the sociomaterial perspective, in this thesis, we looked at how ICTs have entangled with different social, organisational, and individual factors in the work-life boundary experiences of individuals and how these entanglements contribute to Technology Assisted Supplemental Work (TASW) and the Work-life conflict of employees.

The findings showed that TASW and Work-life boundary experiences are outcomes of complex web relations between different sociomaterial assemblages. The flexibility availability paradox is an outcome of these constitutive entanglements between ICTs and human factors. Hence, the same technological constellations could create different boundary experiences for individuals due to the specific nature of the entanglements. Cultural values such as collectivism and power distance could elevate after hour expectations if top management support such work norms.

The findings also showed that female employees would be further disadvantaged due to TASW, especially if they are from a society that upholds traditional gender norms. In such circumstances introducing technology as a facilitator of work-life balance through flexibility is questionable. All in all, the entanglement of ICTs with social, cultural and individual factors would decide the work-life conflict of employees. These findings suggest that the role of technology needs to be conceptualised carefully in work-life research. Assuming technology as an exogenous factor or completely absent from work-life experiences will not give a complete picture of the work-life experiences of individuals. Thus, looking at work-life experiences through the sociomaterial perspective would assist researchers in finding more would be beneficial for organisations to implement formal guidelines to manage TASW requirements to reduce the negative consequences of TASW.

Keywords: Work-life experiences, Work-life Conflict, Work-life boundaries, TASW, Sociomateriality