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Caven, V and Raiden, A (2010) Work-life balance among architects. In: Egbu, C (Ed.), Proceedings 26th Annual ARCOM Conference, 6-8 September 2010, Leeds, UK. Association of Researchers in Construction Management, Vol. 1, 533–42.

  • Type: Conference Proceedings
  • Keywords: architect; long working hours; qualitative research; work-life balance
  • ISBN/ISSN: 978-0-9552390-4-5
  • URL: http://www.arcom.ac.uk/-docs/proceedings/ar2010-0533-0542_Caven_and_Raiden.pdf
  • Abstract:
    While work-life balance is defined as enabling individuals to maintain a satisfactory equilibrium between work and non-work, within the construction industry professions this is complicated by project-based nature of work, which involves travel to and from projects, long hours to meet project deadlines and the need to demonstrate commitment in order to maintain employment security. Our research aims to investigate the extent to which work-life balance initiatives operate in the architecture profession and whether they address the needs of those employed there. This paper draws on qualitative data comprising 55 interviews with Chartered architects employed in a variety of settings from sole practitioners to large practices conducted in an overall interpretive paradigm. The data reveals significant concerns over maintaining a satisfactory work-life balance within the profession. Interestingly, it is (often) the salaried architects in practices who report the greatest difficulties in balancing their work commitments with family and other non-work commitments. The sole practitioners and principals/directors of practices/companies, while also working long hours, report much greater levels of satisfaction with their working lives with flexibility in managing this time commitment. Most employee friendly work-life balance was observed within local authority employed architects but this came at a price of a less creative and smaller jobs. Our argument is thus twofold: (i) where the existing debates on work-life balance have largely ignored the employment context this is an important variable in establishing and maintaining work-life balance within [some] professional occupations such as architecture; and (ii) while a seismic shift in industry culture is required to address the time management issues reported, this will be difficult to achieve because of the project-based nature of work in the industry. Therefore, for the concept to benefit employees work-life balance research must look into these contextual factors; innovative solutions are required to negotiate the time pressures.