Time Matters: Flexi-time and women's retention in the 24/7 workplace
European Society for Socially Embedded Technologies (EUSSET)
Historically, the ability to exercise agency over the scheduling of working-time has shaped women’s retention in the workforce. Therefore, policies such as flexi-time, that claim to give employees control over the scheduling of working hours, should be beneficial to the retention of women in paid employment. The digitally-mediated service sector is considered family-friendly partly because of the rhetoric that work can be carried out anytime, anywhere. Literature in the CSCW tradition has focused on the design and use of technology to facilitate collaboration. The issue of how the agency of workers over scheduling of working-time plays out in practice and its implications for workforce participation have not been explored. I argue that flexitime is a situated practice embedded in a complex adaptive socio-technical system. By studying time practices of women who have returned to work after maternity in the Indian software services sector using Rob Stones’ strong structuration theory as a framework, I hope to contribute conceptually to the CSCW tradition by providing insights on the role of the agency of the worker in the processes that shape temporal patterns in collaborative work. These insights may be used to indicate possibilities for design that enables greater worker agency over time.