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Working-time flexibility and work-life balance across Europe


One way of simultaneously addressing the work-life balance needs of employees and the productivity needs of employers, while keeping costs down for both governments and companies, is the use of flexible working arrangements. This approach has been supported at the company- national-, and even EU-levels via policies and campaigns, and can provide a good alternative to other more costly work-life balance policies. However, some scholars have shown that flexible working can lead to spill-overs from work to home, blurring the boundaries between the two spheres leading to negative results for one's work-life balance. Despite the mixed results, in-depth evidenced based on cross-national data remain lacking and the question of who is really able to benefit from the use of flexibility, in what context, has yet to be answered. To provide this much-needed insight and empirical evidence for future policy developments, this project examines the following questions.

  • Who is able to use work autonomy and flexibility?
  • Which companies provide them, and why?
  • What is the impact of work autonomy and flexibility on work-life balance?
  • Does this impact differ across different family, company and national contexts and individuals in question? If so, why?
  • Has this changed over time?

The study applies a multi-level approach connecting the different levels this dynamic takes place: namely the individual-, family, company- and country-levels. Different time points are compared to see the extent of diffusion of working-time flexibility in the past years and how this influences its impact on work-family conflict. 

This study will bring forward a new dimension the study of work-family conflict and the role of working-time flexibility by understanding the dynamics in a wider perspective, which reflects the actual environments individuals and companies are placed in and provide us with new understandings of the role of policies. 

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