Article i 'Tidsskrift for arbejdsliv' no. 1 2007, page 44-60.
Three types of flexibility
How call center employees use distance work
Anders Raastrup Kristensen
This article examines the changes in how
employees in an inbound call centre
establish a balance between their work life
and home life before and after the implementation
of a distance-working arrangement.
It takes a pilot project in the Danish
telecommunication company TDC as its
empirical point of departure. Thirteen employees and two managers were interviewed
before and after the implementation of the
new, more fl exible work arrangements.
The analysis uses the theoretical work of
Gilles Deleuze on individuation and modulation
to establish a typology of fl exibility.
Flexibility as a mode of individuation is not
something that constitutes the individuality
of already formed individuals. The in dividual
is not complete. The most profound relationship
between work life and home life is not
their actual opposition in terms of resources,
energy, and time, but the virtual ‘disparation’
between work and home life. In other words,
while work life and home life are of course
sites of negative or positive consequents for
the life of the employees on the actual level,
they are also problematic because they create
certain virtual problematics in the life of the
em ployees. On the virtual level, then, it is impossible
to separate work life from home life.
Work life will always be a part of the in ternal
environment of home life. There are neither
stable ‘working subjects’ nor a stable ‘domestic
subjects’; there are, rather, pre-individual
metastable subjects that are products of the
continuous intermingling of the disparate
series of home life and work life.
The analysis does not try to establish
fl exibility as a cause of a variety of effects.
Flexibility should instead be recognized as
distinct ways or strategies that employees
deploy their subjectivity in dealing with
these profound problematics. There are
three different modes of this fl exibility or
ways employees modulate between work
life and home life: Either home life or work
life; home life and work life; Indiscernibility
between home life and work life. The first
two types of fl exibility have already been
described in the literature on work life balance.
This article contributes the third.