Article i 'Tidsskrift for arbejdsliv' no. 3 2003, page 23-40.
Work time flexibility has been viewed by many as a tool that at the same time can make work places more family friendly and satisfy the demands for production. On top of that, work time flexibility might help to reduce conflicts between family life and working life and thereby release human resources making employees able to perform better.
Is this description embedded in practice or is it too general? If you look inside any specific workplace you will find that the opportunity for the employees to organize the working time themselves will have different effects according to quite a number of factors. For instance, if you take the employees’ sex, age and working condition into consideration.
On the basis of two cases - unskilled workers at a waterworks and nurses at an operating ward - the article illustrates how these factors influence the outcome of employees’ organizing working time themselves. The two cases are different, and on that background it is obvious that the influence on working time will not necessarily be followed by an increased work performance. In the one case - the waterworks - the influence on working time has caused the effect that the employees are slowly, but steadily, are beginning to organize their own workday; not only the working time but they also tend to take more responsibility for the job. Here the aims were fullfilled. It is, however, worth noting that all employees are males at an age where their children don’t need daily support. The everyday time conflicts between family life and working are presumably minor for that group of employees.
The other case reflects a totally different reality. The nurses were all women with small children who on a daily basis needed both practical and emotional care. The case illustrates how the everyday conflicts between family life and working life are barriers for the development of the nurses’ competences.
The conclusion is that management has to recognize that many factors will influence the effects of a certain family friendly measure such as, for instance, work time flexibility. Factors such as: the sex-segregation at the families, the sex-segregation at the workplace, the ages of the employees and the work it self.