Blurring Home And Work Boundaries
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  • Mobile communication and social policy:International conference October 9-11, 2009 Center for Mobile Communication Studies, Rutgers University New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA
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  • Picture credit: Wellman & Associates 2005
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Blurring Home And Work Boundaries Blurring Home And Work Boundaries Presentation Transcript

  • Blurring Home and Work Boundaries: Integrating Paid Work, Domestic Work and Family
    Tracy Kennedy, Julie Amoroso & Barry Wellman
    Mobile communication and social policy: International conference
    October 9-11, 2009 Center for Mobile Communication Studies, Rutgers University New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA
    NetLab, Department of Sociology
    University of Toronto
  • “New communications technologies are rapidly obliterating distance as a relevant factory in how we conduct our business and personal lives…. The story today is not only the diminishing importance of distance, but also the mobility and ubiquity of technology.”
    Frances Cairncross(1997)
    The Death of Distance
  • In 2000 ~1.4 million WAH people in Canada (10+% of population)
    In 2005:
    Canadians WAH a mean of 17 hrs/week
    71 percent of home workers spent less than 10 hrs/week WAH
    Problem: the amount of time people spend WAH varies, and so will their experiences…
    Workplace mobility:Working at home (WAH)
  • Heightened awareness of work and family challenges
    New social policies:
    “to ensure that the administration evaluates and develops policies that establish a balance between work and family”
    (The White House, 2009).
    Work-Life Balance
  • WAH provides:
    Versatility & Flexibility
    Permeable boundaries between home & work spheres
    Integration of childcare & domestic work into the paid work day
    Potential breakdown of household routines or efforts to separate home and work
    Risk of over work
    Less or more time with family depending on time spent WAH
    Blurring Boundaries of Workplace & Home
  • What is the relationship between the percentage of time people work at home and how they integrate paid work, domestic work, and family life.
    How are modern digital media, such as the internet and cell phones facilitating home-work connectivity?
    • Population of 114,240 (2001 census)
    • 32 Page Survey:
    • 350 adults: questions about communication, information seeking, work at home, social networks, and more…
    • 2-3 hour Interviews:
    • 25% (n=87):survey follow up, household routines & schedules, ICT use, network structure, and more…
    Case Study: East York, Toronto(2004-2005)
  • 92 Survey respondents:
    questions about occupation, time spent WAH, ICTs used
    35 Interviews participants:
    follow up about, time spent WAH, tasks, ICTs used, routines, family
    WAH Participants
  • Mean age of 42 years
    51% women
    69% married/common law
    64% have children
    39% have undergraduate university degree
    Mean annual personal income$55,000 CAD
    32% Business, Finance & Administration occupations
    26% Social Sciences, Education, Government Service & Religion occupations
    18% Sales & Service occupations
    Demographics of WAH in East York
  • Full-timers: 27% spend between 51 & 100% of their work week WAH ->mean of 29 hrs/wk
    Part-timers: 26% spend between 16 & 50% of their work week WAH -> mean of 11 hrs/wk
    Over-timers: 47% spend between 1 & 15% of their work week WAH -> mean of 5 hrs/wk
    Different Home Workers
  • How do home workers integrate paid work, domestic work and family life?
    Full-timers: structured routine & integrate household tasks into their WAH
    Part-timers: schedule around their workplace and home
    Over-timers: don’t schedule or have a routine for WAH
  • The more time people spend working at home, the more they schedule and integrate their paid and unpaid work tasks in the home.
  • How are modern digital media, such as the internet & cell phones facilitating home-work connectivity?
    The more time people spend working at home, the more contact they have with their partners via ICTs throughout the day – no matter where they are or what they are doing.
  • Full-timers: use stationary landlines to connect with their partners, home most often
    Part-timers: use cell phones, anywhere throughout the day; affordance for those who are always on the go
    Over-timers: send more emails to their partners than the other WAH groups
    ICTs of Choice -> Partners
  • Mobility & Ubiquity: Affordances
    “It’s faster. So when you have a busy work day, to quickly send an email and say: ‘Does this work for you?’ versus me picking up the phone and calling…”
    “If I forget something and I call my husband [on our cell phones], he’ll pick something up on the way home, if necessary…”
    over-timer uses email
    part-timer uses cell phone
  • “When we’re [home] there’s a thousand things going on and then the daytime comes: the girls are at school, he’s out of the way, Adam’s sleeping, and I think – ok, we need to do this this this and this. So, I’m not going to pick up the phone cause he’s at work and I don’t want to do that, but let me just send it so that way it’s out of my head - I’ve communicated, and when we get together tonight ‘oh yeah that email you sent me’. I do email him frequently for that purpose” Theresa, Full-timer
    Mobility & Ubiquity: Affordances
  • “[I connect with] my husband in particular, because my kids during the day are not online, they’re in school. But to my husband I’ll say -because I know he’s honestly on the computer a lot during the day. Not all day, but a lot, and I know he checks his emails frequently so I can usually catch him there. Not that he doesn’t have a cell phone all the time with him and stuff like that, but I’d rather just zip off an email to him and then, like I emailed him today, I can’t even think what it’s about, like ‘are you going to be home today after school to take the dog?’ You know, that type of thing”. Sally, Over-timer
    Mobility & Ubiquity: Affordances
  • Ensure that employee health, overtime regulation, insurance, ergonomic furniture, etc are considered
    Union collective agreements cover WAH for health & safety standards and workers are not isolated from union representation or from training and promotion opportunities
    Recognize the new internet era of white-collar workers at home and the ICTs they use, and provide tools & technical support
    WAH Policy Considerations
  • WAH policies to help people deal with role overload and physical, mental or emotional fatigue associated with employee absenteeism-> flexible work locations
    encourage organizations and governments to support WAH arrangements in varying capacities -> flexible work schedules
    consult workers about their own needs and the needs of their family members -> flexible work provisions
    Work-Life Balance Policies
  • The more time spent working in the home, the greater the integration & blurring of home & work boundaries
    The mobility & ubiquity of ICTs facilitate, complement & enhance communication between home workers & family members throughout the day
    Households without borders
  • With Thanks…
    Tracy Kennedy
    Julie Amoroso
    Barry Wellman
    NetLab, Dept of Sociology
    University of Toronto
    725 Spadina Ave.
    Toronto, ON M5S 2J4