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Blurring boundaries between home and work

A detailed report, "Working anytime, anywhere: The effects on the world of work" has recently been published jointly by Eurofound and the ILO. It studies home-based and mobile workers ten European countries and five others.

The researchers concluded that the incidence of home/mobile working varies substantially, from 2% to 40% of employees, depending on the country, occupation and sector. They point out the advantages of mobile working, both for individuals and organisations, such as improved productivity and better work-life balance. They also point out negatives such as longer working hours.

"On the one hand, home/mobile workers report reduced commuting time, more time for their families and a better balance between work and personal life; on the other hand, they also report an increase in working hours, a blurring of the boundaries between paid work and personal life and more work–life interference. Moreover, the findings suggest that both positive and negative effects on work–life balance can be reported by the same individuals." 

Most of the national studies include findings related to the ‘blurring of boundaries’ phenomenon – the overlap of the borders between the spheres of paid work and personal life. For example they quote a UK study showing "working time becomes more interspersed with ‘free time’, and thus becomes more elastic. Interestingly, this study notes that the issue of boundaries is difficult for managers as well as employees, as it is sometimes not clear when employees are at work and when they are not."