Online Boundary Work Tactics: An Affordance Perspective

19 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2019

See all articles by Steffi Siegert

Steffi Siegert

Linnaeus University

Jan Löwstedt

Stockholm University - Stockholm Business School

Date Written: March 2019


Studies of work/life balance have focussed on offline settings, and even though technology is considered as a boundary‐influencing feature, social media have not been the focus. Social technologies challenge the relationship between work and private life in new ways, due to their identified affordances: visibility, persistence, association and editability (Treem and Leonardi, 2012). In this paper, we present the results of a study of social media use (Facebook and Twitter) by employees of non‐governmental organisations (NGOs), and show how, through their affordances, these technologies influence the relationship and boundaries between work and non‐work, increasing visibility and reducing individual privacy. Consequently, we observe boundary work tactics that aim to protect private life from both public and professional scrutiny, in prohibitive, reactive or active ways. Our results call for organisations to develop explicit policies or guidelines for social media use, in both their own interests and those of their employees.

Keywords: affordances, boundary work, social media, public/private, non‐governmental organisations

Suggested Citation

Siegert, Steffi and Löwstedt, Jan, Online Boundary Work Tactics: An Affordance Perspective (March 2019). New Technology, Work and Employment, Vol. 34, Issue 1, pp. 18-36, 2019. Available at SSRN: or

Steffi Siegert (Contact Author)

Linnaeus University ( email )

Växjö, S-35195

Jan Löwstedt

Stockholm University - Stockholm Business School ( email )


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