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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 i.e., flexi-time and teleworking. 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, increasing work intensity and working hours leading to negative results for one’s work-life balance. On the other hand, we also find evidence that flexible working is especially beneficial for individuals with more household or work demand, or less resources to address them. Despite the mixed results, in-depth evidence based on cross-national data remain lacking and the question of who is really able to benefit (more) from the use of flexible working, in what context, has yet to be answered. To provide this much-needed insight the work autonomy flexibility (WAF) project examines the following questions.

  • Who is able to use flexible working arrangements- flexitime and teleworking?
  • Which companies provide them, and why?
  • What is the impact of flexible working arrangements on worker’s work-life balance?
  • Does flexible working makes workers work longer and why?
  • Does this impact differ across different individuals with different family roles, working in different companies, living in different national policy and cultural contexts?

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.