A Photovoice Study of Work-Life Balance for Faculty in Higher Education During the COVID-19 Pandemic




Franken, Noah
Garcia, Nancy
Ramos Salazar, Leslie

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The mass transition to online delivery in higher education at the beginning of the pandemic put a strain on many faculty members in higher education. Although the subsequent semester went much smoother as faculty had more time to prepare and were able to adjust, it has been suggested that faculty should be able to provide richer educational experiences moving forward as a result of the necessary evolution and development they underwent to meet the challenges of teaching during the pandemic. However, faculty may still feel strained if they are increasingly expected to supplement face-to-face delivery with online materials. The current study explored the early implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for faculty work-life balance in higher education using a photovoice approach through the frameworks of work-family border theory and conservation of resources theory, offering both theoretical and practical implications.


The findings of this study have theoretical implications for both work-family border theory (Clark, 2000) and COR (Hobfoll, 1989). First, the findings showed that the permeability and flexibility of faculty members’ work-life changed after their homes became their new work environment. As evidenced through photovoice, at-home offices became physical work boundaries at faculty's homes and permeability challenges occurred with the interruptions and distractions from personal responsibilities (i.e., child care, relatives). Faculty who managed to maintain effective work-life balance redefined their weak border strength boundaries with autonomy, flexibility, and self-agency. Those who redefined boundaries also set clear temporal and physical boundaries and expectations concerning the use of communication technology. Thus, during the COVID-19 pandemic, those who were able to successfully cross work-life borders within their own home spaces maintained their sense of work-life balance. Our findings extend Hobfoll's (1989) COR theory by expanding the meaning of the type of resources that were gained or lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. Adjusting to new working conditions impacted the faculty's work and life experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the high levels of uncertainty, faculty performance was, at times, dependent on their knowledge of new technologies. Faculty who were given sufficient resources and support overcame uncertainty better than those without support from their institutions, and those who knew videoconferencing technologies before the pandemic had a resource gain advantage over those with no competency in using these technologies.


2023 Faculty and Student Research Poster Session and Research Fair, West Texas A&M University, Department of Communication, Department of Computer Information and Decision Management, Higher education, Pandemic, COVID-19, Work-life balance, Faculty


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