Tag Archives: Germany

Flexible working is making us work longer

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Freedom is slavery. George Orwell, 1984.

Imagine if you could work whenever and wherever you wanted to. Would you work less and enjoy more time with family and friends? Or would you end up perpetually working, have work spill over into the rest of your life?

Many do not have to imagine what this freedom is like. Roughly a third of all employed workers in the UK have flexibility over their working hours and about a fifth of people work from home on occasion. Across the EU, about 17% of all employed workers have access to flexitime, which means their work start and finish times are flexible. Another 5% have full autonomy over when and how long they work.

Contrary to what you might expect, those with more control over their work schedule work more than those with less control. In fact, people have a tendency to work more overtime hours once they are allowed to work flexibly, compared to when they were not.

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Making choices between policies and real lives

father and son by Petra Gagilas

Barbara Hobson draws on the research of a team within a large European Network of Excellence, Reconciling work and welfare (RECWOWE), many of whom are authors in the recent book, Worklife Balance: The Agency and Capabilities Gap, focusing on the individual/household, firm and managerial level and welfare state policy context across European countries and Japan. In this post she discusses the choices faced by those who seek to take advantage of work-life balance policies. Continue reading

Study: work-life challenges across generations – EY

A global survey, covering nearly 10,000 employees in eight countries has found that:

  • Work-life balance is harder worldwide.
  • People are quitting their jobs because of excessive overtime hours and bosses that don’t allow flexible working.
  • Being able to work flexibly and still be on track for promotion is very important.

The leading causes of work-life conflict are that while wages have remained stagnant, their responsibilities have increased.

Workers in Germany and Japan reported the highest levels of increasing work-life conflict. German parents – alongside those in the UK, India and the US – were also most likely to report difficulties in managing work-life balance versus their non-parent colleagues.

They survey also found that approximately half of managers work more than 40 hours a week, with four in 10 saying that their hours have increased in the past five years.

Read more at EY.

Autonomy in flexibilized working time schemes? Factors that inhibit autonomy and where it succeeds

Working in bed at the weekend

Yvonne Lott, of the Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaftlichen Institut (WSI) in Germany, questions whether working time flexibility can really deliver employee autonomy. 

Flexibility in working time makes it possible to reconcile work with the affairs of private life. Whether this is caring for children or elderly parents, or pursuing a qualification alongside work – flexible working times give employees freedom to organize their time. In particular when employees can themselves determine how to organize their working time, their autonomy at work can seem unlimited. Self-determination of work schedules promises control over one’s own working time and thus autonomy over one’s time in general. Employees with such working times should, then, have relatively stress-free (work) lives. Right? I am skeptical. Continue reading

Non-standard work arrangements and national context – Kassinis and Stavrou

Using a sample of 1,893 companies across 15 countries, the authors examine the relationship between public expenditure on national family-leave policies, employment legislation and culture, and use of flexible working.

They find that these three areas of expenditure influence the use of flexible working, but that this depends on both context and type of flexible working. As such, they stress that researchers should consider both the national and institutional environments when designing and interpreting research on flexible working.

Kassinis, George I.; Stavrou, Eleni T. (2013) “Non-standard work arrangements and national context” European Management Journal, 31

Available at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0263237313000479

Contesting Time: International Comparisons of Employee Control of Working Time – Peter Berg et al.

Drawing from interviews with managers, public sector policy-makers and administrators, and union leaders, this article demonstrates that workers‘ control over working time is affected by

  • the institutional and regulatory environment within the country
  • labor market conditions
  • management and labor union strategies

Employees in countries, such as Germany, Sweden and Netherlands, with extensive collective bargaining, high labour union density/coverage, and labour representatives focussed on working time issues, have increased collective control over working time.

Employee control over working time is unevenly distributed in countries with weaker labour institutions, and tends to reflect more closely the employers interests.

Berg, Peter; Appelbaum, Eileen; Bailey, Tom; and Kalleberg, Arne L. (2004) “Contesting Time: International Comparisons of Employee Control of Working Time” Industrial & Labor Relations Review, 57(3)

Available at: http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/ilrreview/vol57/iss3/1

International Flexible Working Survey 2013 – BakkerElkhuizen

This survey of flexible work in Germany, England, Belgium and Netherlands found that 64% of English firms have implemented some kind of flexible working. This more than Germany (57%), the Netherlands (48%) and Belgium (38%).

The reasons cited for not implementing flexible working were that:

1. Companies are still looking into the possibilities of flexible working;

2. Staff are tied to a fixed place and time because of their specific duties;

3. The organisation feels that the presence of staff is necessary.

Notably, the reasons for flexible working differed by country. In Belgium and England, organisations to implemented flexible ‘to satisfy the wishes of staff’. In Germany, the most important argument for flexible working was that it leads to ‘higher staff satisfaction’. In the Netherlands, ‘cost-savings on buildings, accommodation and workstations’ was key for organisation.

Read more here.