Balancing Work and Family Life with Home-Based Telework? Perspectives of German Employees in Different Occupations

Wednesday, 18 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Alexandra MERGENER, Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training, Germany
Home-based telework is usually associated with flexible working hours and often considered as a strategy to enhance employees’ work-family balance. Thus, having the opportunity to work from home is perceived as a feasible way to combine family life and paid employment – particularly for those (mostly women) who are responsible for childcare and by this often restricted to participate in conventional on-site work. However, working from home could also mean that professional and domestic spheres are closely interrelated and results in blurred borders between work and family life. This could be especially the case for persons in leading or management positions as these are mostly in demanding, competitive and pressured contexts. The question is therefore: Concerning work-family-balance, is home-based telework a blessing or a curse?

Using data from a representative telephone-based survey of 20,000 persons in active employment in Germany (BIBB/BAuA Employment Survey 2018), this study analyses the effects of teleworking options on the subjective work-family-balance of German employees. Aspects of particular interest include differences by professions, occupational positions, intensive work contexts, tasks, working hours and gender.

This question is especially interesting due to the increasing digitalisation of (western) labour markets, which may result in growing teleworking opportunities. In this context, the research project broadens the discussion about pros and cons of home-based working by findings that can directly applicable to German employees (because of the specific national database). Furthermore, these results are also transferable to working populations of other nations with similar structures.