Surviving Busy Season in a Remote Work Environment: Using the Job Demands-Resources Model to Investigate Coping Mechanisms
49 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2022 Last revised: 19 Jul 2022
Date Written: July 19, 2022
Leveraging job demands-resources (JD-R) theory, we investigate two mechanisms to reduce accountants’ end-of-day fatigue during busy season. We conduct a field study of public accountants during normal and busy season work periods, collecting bi-daily logs to examine whether the use of microbreaks as a job crafting mechanism and/or supervisory support as a job resource lessens fatigue. While common intuition might suggest that these factors should naturally improve accountants’ fatigue, several aspects of the busy season environment – including the substantial cognitive demands and knowledge intensity of the work period and the recent shift to remote work – could negate any positive effects. Although practitioners and regulators remain concerned about the consequences of fatigue on work quality, accounting research on ways to overcome this issue remains scarce. We posit and find that engaging in brief respite activities (i.e., microbreaks) is associated with reduced end-of-day fatigue within, but not outside of, busy season. Further, contrary to prior research that finds that various types of microbreaks are differentially effective at improving work outcomes, we find that all types of microbreaks (relaxation, social, nutrition, and cognitive activities) are associated with reduced busy season fatigue. Next, we posit and find that higher levels of daily supervisory support are associated with lower busy season fatigue. Finally, results indicate that these two mechanisms function as complements during busy season, such that either one significantly reduces fatigue but both together have an interactive effect. Our study uses a novel approach to examine accountants in their natural setting, extends JD-R theory, and provides insights that can help regulators and firms address concerns related to fatigue and its effect on work quality.
Keywords: busy season, job demands-resources theory, fatigue, microbreaks, supervisor support, remote work
JEL Classification: M40, M41, M42, J24, J28
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation