As one of the most well-reputed and well-recognised non-state higher educational institutes in the country, Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT) is often applauded for its immense contribution towards building a knowledgeable society and fostering work-ready graduates by its practical-oriented, globally-recognised degree programmes. A testimony to the unmatched and unparallelled quality of the education [...]




Prof. Samantha Thelijjagoda

As one of the most well-reputed and well-recognised non-state higher educational institutes in the country, Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT) is often applauded for its immense contribution towards building a knowledgeable society and fostering work-ready graduates by its practical-oriented, globally-recognised degree programmes.

A testimony to the unmatched and unparallelled quality of the education provided by the institute, one of the exemplary students supervised by Prof. Ruwan Jayathilaka of SLIIT Business School recently published a journal paper with 332 H-index – the most reputable abstract and citation databases for academic literature. This can be considered a great milestone for the institute as the course is achieving such a high score on the world-renowned metric for evaluating the cumulative impact of an author’s scholarly output and performance is quite a demanding task that’s certainly not for the faint of heart. The  acceptance rate of top-tier journals such as  PLOS ONE is often less than 10% and publishing a paper in such a journal is a remarkable achievement in one’s academic career.

Speaking with us, the author of the journal paper, MBA candidate Dharshana Rathnaweera gave a brief overview of the research and shared his experience at SLIIT Business School.


: Could you give us a brief
introduction to your academic and career background?

Currently I serve as a Lieutenant commander at the Sri Lanka Navy in the Logistics branch. I completed my primary, secondary, and tertiary education at Kingswood College, Kandy. After I completed my school education, I read my bachelor’s degree at Kelaniya University. It is my belief that education helps us to grow and develop ourselves—that’s why I decided to continue studies further and joined SLIIT for my MBA Programme where I received knowledge as well as practical exposure that opened up the doors to so many invaluable opportunities.


: Could you elaborate the rationale behind choosing the topic “In employees’ favor or not? — The impact of virtual office platforms on the work-life balances” for your research?

The virtual office concept which was introduced to Sri Lanka in parallel to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak was a novel experience to the employees in the public sector as well as the majority of the private sector employees. Among many other ways the  pandemic outbreak abruptly changed the way we did things, I thought this concept of working from home could have impacted the work-life balance of the employees -especially among women. Overworking, distraction or even isolation, mental strain caused by technical hiccups and lack of resources,  time allocation for family matters – these were my main concerns. Given how most of the companies have now adapted to flexible work arrangements that allow employees to work from home, it is a must that we study the actual impact of working from home on the work-life balance of the employees. It is important to note that I did not find any quality research articles related to this area in high index journals. Therefore, I thought of conducting research related to this area.

Prof. Ruwan Jayathilaka

Q : You were able to publish a journal paper with 332 H-index and this is the first time in SLIIT history a journal paper was published with such a high index.

How do you feel about it?

I’m honoured and proud for having achieved this achievement – a big part of the credit should go to my research supervisor Prof. Ruwan Jayathilaka for the immense support and guidance he provided throughout the process.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to encourage every graduate to do a publication in a High Index journal. It’s quite empowering to see your hard work being recognised and it’s undoubtedly an extra value addition to your Master’s programme.


: You mentioned that you were supervised by Prof. Ruwan Jayathilaka from the inception until publication of the journal. In which ways did his supervision help you to achieve this milestone in your academic life?

He is the tower of strength behind this achievement, and I’m very grateful for all the support that he extended during the course of publishing this journal article. I sincerely appreciate his continuous encouragement and guidance -without him, this achievement would not be a reality. One of the most important things that pushed me towards success was the way he believed in my capacity; his high expectations made me work even harder so I could meet them. I will not hesitate to say he is both a great mentor and a coach.

Dharshana Rathnaweera

Q : How would you recommend SLIIT for students who want to excel in their academic life and pursue their research studies?

I highly recommend SLIIT to pursue research studies with my personal experience. SLIIT is a great place to pursue higher education. It is not just an ordinary university; SLIIT is committed to equip the students with essential modern management skills and knowledge and cultivate their intellectual capabilities of research, critique, synthesis and innovation while offering the value addition through practical exposure.

It is worth mentioning how when the entire world came to a pause due to lockdowns and movement restrictions caused by the pandemic, SLIIT was able to adapt to the ‘new normal’ education set up with a virtual platform without delaying a day. By providing all facilities that help students to focus on their studies without any distractions or restrictions, all academic and non-academic staff were dedicated to their fullest capacity to make the life of students convenient – the lecture panel and the university culture itself motivates students to reach their maximum potential.

Research supervisor of Dharshana Rathnaweera, Head of the Department of Information Management of  SLIIT Business School and MBA Coordinator of SLIIT Prof. Ruwan Jayathilaka shared with us more insights to the magnitude of this achievement.

Q : What is the importance of H-Index ranking?

The h-index measures both the productivity and impact of the published work of a scientist or scholar -it enhances an individual scientist’s image and shows how many of their research publications are referred to and cited by other scientists. The h-index is not just a number but indicates significant work in a researcher’s career. Therefore, comparing the number of published works contributing to the h-index and the other published works of the researcher demonstrates the research behaviour of the scientists. A higher h-index of a publication reveals the importance of your work, visibility, and dissemination to a broader audience. As such, a higher h-index of publication (excluding self-citations) could be a determining factor in the quality of the publication.

There are several advantages of the H-index. First, it combines quantity (publications) and impact (citations). Second, it allows us to characterise the scientific output of a researcher in terms of objectivity and therefore may play an important role when making decisions about promotions, fund allocation and awarding prizes. Lastly, it performs better than other single-number criteria commonly used to evaluate the scientific output of a researcher viz. impact factor, total number of documents, total number of citations, citation per paper rate and number of highly cited papers.

Q : Could you tell us how impactful the topic “In employees’ favour or not? — The impact of virtual office platforms on the work-life balances” is for the acclaimed research paper?

Along with the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing and mobility restrictions, working hours as well as physical workplaces were forced to change -especially the conventional eight to five work practises that were no longer feasible. Companies were adopting flexible work schedules as they have allowed employees to work remotely from home during the lockdown, which is now known as work from home (WFH). In particular, the companies had to incorporate flexible work schedules to preserve the employees’ mental and physical well-being; therefore, physical breaks, workouts, indulging in other non-work activities, minimising anxiety, and improving efficiency. Consequently, it is necessary to identify the main factors that affect family life during the WFH period.

Given that very limited studies have shed light on the context, this study contributes immensely to filling the research gap. The main objective of this study was to identify the impact of the virtual office platform on work-life balance in the Sri Lankan context.

Q: What was the methodology used to collect information?

A: The methodology adopted for this study was quantitative -an online questionnaire that was designed to collect data was primarily distributed to employees who had moved on to the virtual platform. The sample of this study consisted of 270 employees from organisations in various sectors including but not limited to lecturers, students, upper management, middle management, and line management in private companies, banks, educational institutes, IT companies, and government institutes located in the Colombo and Kandy districts. Employees of these districts were keen to continue operating in the virtual office platform despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic; hence, such employees were identified as the appropriate sample to carry out the study.

Q : In your assessment, what would be the application of this research paper in a practical context?

A: Findings of the research demonstrate that non-working environment factors, which include gender and the number of children in a family have a key effect, particularly when WFH in developing countries like Sri Lanka.

Furthermore, findings show that these effects were particularly strong in 26–30 and 31–40 age groups. The virtual platform has created opportunities for more female workers to rejoin the workforce by teleworking and also for those who have temporarily stayed away from work (due to being married, with kids, etc.) to return to the workforce.

In Sri Lanka, virtual platforms and remote working need to be perceived beyond a quick fix to sustain the economy – remote working policies can be incorporated into organisational practises and processes. In this approach, according to the study, much attention is to be paid to women with kids aged 0–5 years, skilled employees and degree holders, and especially those who can adapt to working via online platforms. We identified that overall, flexibility and more opportunities for workers are required.

Further, a proactive approach to addressing the role conflict that strongly impacts well-being in virtual platforms where employees handle both work and personal roles, allowing quality time with family can help achieve positive organisational outcomes in the long run.

Q : The author of the journal paper, Rathnaweera spoke highly of your tremendous support. Could you share how you guided this student to reach such great heights?

A: It’s a continual process of guidance that helps provide clear direction for the student’s work. First, this involves encouraging, mentoring, and being aware that students’ lives extend beyond the MBA in real-life context. Setting expectations early in the dissertation, being flexible, planning the process and managing time spent on supervision are part of that. Second, to communicate well with students and peers and employ the advantage of utilising resources provided by SLIIT .

Furthermore, providing feedback and criticism of their work that is constructive and prompt are crucial to the growth of a student. For example, I meet students regularly, set aside adequate time for students, and be contactable through several media (e.g., email, phone, zoom) –mainly if they are not physically present.

Students do not necessarily expect the supervisor to have expertise in the precise topic of their research; they highly value a supervisor who can guide them to apply their knowledge of the subject area to conceptualise and demonstrate how the student’s research topic fits within the broader field. However, having the guidance of a supervisor with expertise in the research methodologies required in the study is particularly important and advantageous in equipping new researchers with skills and producing quality research papers.

Affirming the scope of the institute, Dean of SLIIT Business School Professor Samantha Thelijjagoda averred: “SLIIT Business School (SBS) is quite keen on publishing good research articles in reputed and well-recognised indexed journals. Striving to reach sustainable economic  development, we encourage our students and staff to research areas which especially have a societal impact on the real world. I’m happy to say that SBS has developed a healthy research culture over the years and the staff along with the students are now highly involved in carrying out quality level research.”

Speaking of the 332 H-index journal article, he continues: “I must mention with great pride that this journal article too is an outcome of such research work that our academic staff and students have carried out. My appreciation goes to the Chancellor Prof. Lakshman Rathnayake, Vice-Chancellor  Prof. Lalith Gamage, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Prof. Nimal Rajapakse, and Dean of Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research Prof. Rahula Attalage for the support and guidance extended and for providing a comfortable environment and state of the art facilities to carry out such high-quality research at SLIIT.”

Approved by the University Grants Commission (UGC) under the Universities Act, SLIIT is also a Member of the Association of Commonwealth Universities and International Association of Universities (IAU) as well as a Member of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).

Providing further opportunities for prospective students, SLIIT has partnered globally recognised prestigious foreign universities and education institutes. Moreover, students have the ability to enrol in foreign degree programmes from Curtin University, Australia, Liverpool John Moores University, United Kingdom; and the William Angliss Institute, Australia which upon part-completion of their degree they can opt to transfer to these institutes and universities overseas and continue their chosen course of study.

The research article “In employees’ favour or not? — The impact of virtual office platform on the work-life balances” published in the PLOS ONE journal and can be accessed at

Integrating research methodology to undergraduate and postgraduate curricula is an inherent part of SLIIT study culture. More information can be found at


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