PhD Defence Julia Schlegelmilch

Schlegelmilch, Julia 2 
Digital Innovation and Transformation

Dissertation title
Where we work: Physical workplaces in a digital world

Date and location
February 9, 2021 at 9:45 in the Aula of the Main Building of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
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Where we work: Physical workplaces in a digital world
Schlegelmilch, JuliaDigital technologies enable us to work 'anywhere, anytime' – at least that’s what many assume. What receives less attention is the fact that all digital work is still conducted by workers within a physical environment. In this doctoral dissertation, I research what role the physical workplace plays in digitally enabled work and draw conclusions for theory and practice. My first study about digital nomads shows that we need to extend our understanding of the term “workplace” to mean that a workplace is not a given but created by the worker through interacting with the physical environment. The second study finds that transitioning to remote work intensifies close relationships between employees but dilutes looser relationships even further. In the third study, I show that when workers in an open office can access work-related information about their colleagues, they are able to share more ideas. However, this positive impact is reduced if they work remotely some of the time due to the reduced access to information. Building on these three studies, this doctoral dissertation concludes that people in research and business need to take the physical environment of digital work into account. This is because a place can hinder or support the workers' interactions to create and maintain the physical, social and digital aspects of a workplace. This dissertation can also inform managers to make more deliberate choices about the where and how of work, to ultimately achieve more flexibility for workers and companies.

Short biography
Julia Schlegelmilch is a PhD candidate at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam’s School of Business and Economics, in 2020. Her research interests include remote work and the physical environment of digital work. During her PhD, she visited MIT CISR in Boston (USA) and presented her work at several international academic conferences (a.o. Academy of Management, EGOS, as well as practitioner events (a.o. Emerce NextGen, The Next Web). Prior to her PhD, she obtained two Masters of Science degrees at the University of Groningen in Human Resource Management and Change Management. After her PhD, she will continue her career in consulting.