Schedule Control Benefits Work and Home Life

Present day lifestyles involve judicious balancing between work and family responsibilities in terms of time input and planning schedules that do not disturb each other. The focus of a lot of sociological research is on how an individual attempts to fulfill both roles effectively. “Role blurring” or no clear demarcation between work and home schedules leads to more conflicts. As suggested by the researchers, more “schedule control” or better control on performing certain work tasks at home or family chores at work, plays a critical role in maintaining the balance with less or no conflicts.

Interplay of work and family activities necessitates multitasking and consequentially, role-blurring. People often adopt boundary-spanning resources to enhance performance; “schedule control” is one such example. The study analyzes three hypotheses on the impact and efficacy of schedule control in diminishing conflicts. Two critical factors in effective schedule control are flexibility and permeability. Flexibility is the extent to which boundaries are workable and permeability is the extent of working out one role in the other domain. The role-blurring hypothesis suggests greater interference in role-related activities and, hence, the need for more multitasking. The suppressed resource hypothesis states that increased role-blurring leads to more work-family conflicts. The buffering hypothesis predicts that the flexibility of schedule control makes it easier to switch roles and hence minimizes conflicts.

* Telephonic interviews with adults were carried out to collect data on work-family conflicts, multitasking, ease of working from home, schedule control, gender, marital status, working status of spouse, number of children, occupation, work hours, income and job pressure.
* The final analysis was done on data from 1,100 participants.
* Statistical studies were done to analyze the impact of different levels of schedule control on time spent in performing paid work at home, work-family multitasking and work-family conflicts.

* Higher multitasking is exhibited by individuals who have complete schedule control and spend almost 20 percent of working hours from home.
* However, this set of people also experience high role-blurring.
* In a three-way assessment of conflict, schedule control and multitasking, the researchers found that full schedule control reduces conflict but multitasking leads to more conflict.
* Overall however, multitasking in combination with absolute schedule control resulted in lesser events of conflict.

Next steps/Shortcomings
The complexity of the study design restricts the identification of the cause-effect relationship between the parameters studied. The researchers suggest that future studies should consider the role of job changes to more flexible jobs and its impact on work-family conflicts. The present study is limited by analyses based on too few aspects to understand the varied implications of schedule control.

Many studies conducted previously have given rather unclear reports about the effects of schedule controlling on maintaining work-life balance. By analyzing the relationship among role-blurring, work-family conflict and schedule control, the present study has been able to provide a more explicit understanding of the same. Further, effective use of schedule control can act as a boundary-spanning resource which offers more advantages. This study also provides a conclusive result on the positive consequences of role-blurring on work-family conflict. This research work directly benefits its readers by providing a clear perspective of the causes that lead to work-life conflicts and tangible methods to prevent such conflicts.

For More Information:
Is There a Downside to Schedule Control for the Work-Family Interface?
Publication Journal: Journal of Family Issues, 2010
By Scott Schieman and Marisa Young; University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada

*FYI Living Lab Reports Are Summaries of the Original Research.

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