EU funds research on work-week, home-life dynamics
In today's globalised market, the codes and rules governing the European workplace have been re-evaluated and fine-tuned. Companies have been compelled to rethink their strategies for competing with emerging economies; this affects the way a workforce is managed. One of the strategies that European firms, both large and small, have identified while attempting to adjust to the new pressures of the market, is to extend working times or devise creative work schedules. Though this may provide a slight advantage in boosting turnover, what are the implications for workers and their families, who are obliged to adjust their daily routines so as to adapt to these changes? EUCOWE, an EU-financed project, studied working times in Europe, and examined their social effects on the workforce.
Project experts conducted a detailed survey, which provided them with a unique perspective into the workday dynamic for both large and small companies, and also, for the first time, for micro-businesses with under 20 employees. They were able to obtain data on European firms across sectors and across borders, making it possible to conduct a comprehensive comparative study. EUCOWE can provide policy makers with a statistically sound assessment of the management of operating hours, in the service sector and in SMEs.
Their findings provide evidence that Europe is experiencing
a ‘decoupling' of operating hours and working times,
in all six countries. In other words, a collective reduction
in working time no longer results in a reduction in operating
hours; this has significant implications for employees'
They were also able to determine that SMEs operating as part
of larger businesses tend to have longer operating hours than
independent SMEs. Furthermore, there is a lower decoupling of
individual working times and operating times for stand-alone