Chapter 9: What Boundaries? Technology’s Role in Work and Family Balance
This chapter discusses the notion of balance of roles and responsibilities between work, home, and one’s personal life . COVID-19 advanced the idea of a fluid work space, unbounded by time or space, as white-collar workers worked from home. This enabled greater agency for individuals to manage demands. At the same time, for many — especially parents — the lack of boundaries made creating that balance even harder. As we “return to work,” many workers and employers are mixed in their views about the healthiest and most effective work arrangements.
- Imagine a workspace arrangement in the near future that capitalizes on workers’ needs to manage family and personal responsibilities. What would that look like?
- Imagine an arrangement that capitalizes on home-based settings. What policies or resources might the employer recommend or require to ensure that employees can be most productive?
Jobs that can be done anywhere, anytime offer the most flexibility in meeting work-family demands. These jobs often rely heavily on the internet and digital technologies. And they depend on the internet being available, and on devices being plentiful between workers and in households.
Consider the following professions:
- elementary school teacher
- computer programmer
- retail manager
- dental hygienist
- car mechanic
Can each be done at home? Do they need to be completed in a physical space? What information and communication technologies would aid the fulfillment of responsibilities for the family? Who may or may not have access to these devices? Who may or may not have access to the internet?