University staff and flexible work: inequalities, tensions and challenges

Smyth, Ciara, Cortis, Natasha and Powell, Abigail (2020) University staff and flexible work: inequalities, tensions and challenges. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management . ISSN 1360-080X

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.1080/1360080X.2020.1857504

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University staff and flexible work: inequalities, tensions and challenges
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Item Type:Article
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Abstract

In 2020, COVID-19 triggered rapid growth in the use of flexible work arrangements (FWA) in universities. While the impacts of this shift are still emerging, this article contributes analysis of the ways university staff experienced FWAs prior to the pandemic. In-depth discussions with sixty staff across eight focus groups highlighted substantial inequalities in access to and take-up of FWAs. Staff described different levels of access to flexibility among academic and professional staff. Many felt individualised processes of requesting flexibility deterred the use of FWAs, and meant capacity to utilise flexibility was serendipitous, and dependent on local managers’ mindsets. By exploring the inequalities and tensions characterising flexible work in universities prior to the pandemic, the article contributes evidence against which to assess the profound changes in university workplaces associated with COVID-19, and informs discussions of the ways equity and access can be addressed in emerging higher education landscapes.

Keywords:university workforce, flexibility, Flexible work Arrangements, work and family, work-life balance, women, higher education staff
Subjects:L Social studies > L310 Applied Sociology
Divisions:Eleanor Glanville Centre
ID Code:43423
Deposited On:17 Dec 2020 16:29

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