|This study examined the ways in which home is conceptualised, experienced and evaluated by homeworkers, a hard-to-reach group. It explored the impact of homeworking on the experience of home and family life and sought to identify ways in which working from home may challenge the traditional stereotypical view of home. A pilot study suggested that the homeworking experience may be differentiated by economic, spatial and gender factors revealing potential tensions and inequalities among the broad range of people who work from home.
The research sought to:
explore the existence of supports, inequalities and tensions in the homeworking experience; and
establish the particular qualities of home that are enhanced with working from home, as well as those that are limited by this activity.
The study used mixed methods, including face-to-face qualitative interviews with individuals and focus groups, and a semi-structured questionnaire, from which a quantitative data file was complied. The qualitative sample consisted of 60 men and women who worked from home (45 individual interviewees, and fifteen other respondents comprising three focus groups), in varied types of work including professional, semi-skilled and unskilled. Four population areas in Northern England and Wales were targeted for this study. The quantitative data set included 62 questionnaires from a separate sample of national homeworkers.
Key findings suggest that homeworking is differentiated by gender role, type of work and expectations. Furthermore there are both positive and negative aspects to the homeworking experience for all homeworkers. For example, flexibility is desired and enjoyed but this brings longer working hours. Finally, home is enhanced for some and invaded for others, but most make a conscious effort to make working from home viable.
The qualitative interviews cover paid work done at home, how the interviewee began homeworking, location in the home used for work, how family/partner copes with interviewee's home work, enjoyment of homeworking, choice of other jobs outside the home, positive and negative aspects of homeworking, perception of how treated in comparison to other workers, structure of typical working day, separation of work and home life, leisure time activities, breaks from work, local neighbourhood, perceptions of home and changes brought on by working from home.
Variables in the quantitative data file include interviewee number (the 45 interviews may be linked by number to the respondent information in the data file), age, gender, rural/urban location, type of work, employment status, employment details and sector, hours of work, employment and homeworking history, living arrangements and household, children and childcare, computer use, community access, ways of working from home, comparison with other ways of working and work locus of control.
Standard Measures (questionnaire - quantitative data file):
General Health Questionnaire short (12) form (data included on the file but may not be listed in the questionnaire);
The Work Locus of Control Scale (Spector, 1988).