Where do I belong?: A phenomenological investigation of teleworkers' experience of organizational belonging. Open Access
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Emerging research has shown that, in the last twenty years, dramatic corporate and workforce changes have taken place in terms of when and where work is performed. Telework has emerged as a popular mode of work design, characteristic of a modernizing workforce. As a flexible work arrangement, telework options have been linked with improved work-life balance, feelings of autonomy, and intrinsic satisfaction for employees. However, concerns for employees' lack of presence and distance from the office and how individuals remain connected to the organization and its members continue to surface. More particularly, increasing time being physically away from the organization can impact employees' feelings of becoming invisible, isolated, and less able to identify with the organization. This is noteworthy because a sense of connectedness and feelings of belonging at work have been linked to engagement, productivity, and performance. To date, however, no studies have focused on what happens to individuals' sense of belonging when they engage in high-intensity telework, consistently working from home more than sixty percent of the time. The purpose of this phenomenological study, then, was to describe and understand the essence of the high-intensity teleworkers' experience of organizational belonging. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten individuals who were employed in full-time roles across different organizations, who worked from home at least three days a week, and had been doing so for at least six months. The findings reveal especially unique and important perspectives on the employee-supervisor relationship, how high-intensity teleworkers engage from a distance, and how a sense of belonging is realized. Notions of identity fulfillment surface as central to how organizational belonging is experienced by high-intensity teleworkers. An identity-based definition of organizational belonging is also offered. Recommendations for further research and practical suggestions for organizations employing high-intensity teleworkers are highlighted.