Does flexible working really provide a better work-life balance?
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, flexible working has become the norm for many workers. This volume offers an original examination of flexible working using data from 30 European countries and drawing on studies conducted in Australia, the US and India. Rather than providing a better work-life balance, the book reveals how flexible working can lead to exploitation, which manifests differently for women and men, such as more care responsibilities or increased working hours.
Taking a critical stance, this book investigates the potential risks and benefits of flexible working and provides crucial policy recommendations for overcoming the negative consequences.
"... In addition to its scholarly qualities, The Flexibility Paradox is of great value to society at large because of the social project it represents." Etnofoor
"... three decades after the publications of The Second Shift (1989) by Hochschild and The Overworked American (1992) by Schor, Chung’s book provides a necessary update on the state of work and leisure, particularly in light of the social changes wrought by the global pandemic." Social Forces
"…a welcome and timely contribution to the disciplines of sociology, social policy, and management studies. Readers interested in gender inequalities in the interface between work and family life would find this book interesting and informative… an excellent primer for anyone researching or studying flexible working." Gender, Work and Organization
"Flexible work is a priority for many workers and yet remains a puzzle to many employers. This book provides much-needed clarity about the critical role schedule control will play in creating equitable work systems and cultures." Brigid Schulte, New America
“Be careful what you wish for with regard to flexible work. Chung’s savvy analysis and fresh perspective explains the reasons that flexible work so often creates more work.” Erin L. Kelly, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
"This is a well-written and well-researched study which should be required reading for anyone interested in how our society is changing and in the interaction between gender norms and the market system in moulding the world in which we live." Peter Taylor-Gooby, University of Kent
“This book exposes the unintended consequences of workplace innovations, and the ways apparently progressive ideas can be captured to serve other purposes. Chung shows that we need to be more thoughtful about how we implement flexible work policies, and more attentive to the ways they actually play out in workplaces and lives. She warns us away from seeing flexibility as a solution that lets employers avoid harder structural changes and policy reforms.” Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, author of REST and SHORTER and Programme Director, 4 day week Global
"Heejung Chung uses an immense amount of analyses with reasoned theory to illustrate how flexible work can amplify broader social problems despite its potential to help workers. This is a comprehensive must-read for anyone interested in flexible work." Richard Petts, Ball State University
Heejung Chung is Professor of Sociology and Social Policy in the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research at the University of Kent.
Introduction: The flexibility paradox and contexts
The demand for and trends in flexible working
The dual nature of flexibility: Family-friendly or performance-oriented logic?
The outcomes of flexible working
The flexibility paradox: Why more freedom at work leads to more work
The empirical evidence of the flexibility paradox
Gendered flexibility paradox
Flexibility stigma and the rewards of flexible working
The importance of contexts
COVID- 19 and flexible working
Conclusion: Where do we go from here?