Legitimizing and Elevating Telework: Chinese Constructions of a Nonstandard Work Arrangement

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business communication, telework, technology, China, legitimacy, guanxi, post-80s generation, nonstandard work arrangements, Chinese values

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Telework—the performance of paid labor activities at sites other than conventional workplaces and through the use of communication technologies—has not been considered a legitimate work form in China. Analyzing in-depth interviews thematically, the authors found that teleworkers from the post-80s generation not only legitimized their work form pragmatically and morally but also elevated it as a better choice for more achievement, flexibility, autonomy, efficiency, and professional development. Although they evaluated their choice positively, these teleworkers also acknowledged the unique challenges in cultivating guanxi (building relationships) and careers in China when working remotely. The authors suggest that telework in China offers a contested site for studying the dialectic tensions between traditional Chinese values and Western business discourses.

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Journal of Business and Technical Communication, v. 27, issue 3, p. 243-262