The article summarises the research project "Combining Work and Family Life" which has been carried out in 1996-1999 by STAKES and Work Research Center of the University of Tampere. The project consists of eleven workplaces from different fields: manufacturing industries (rubber, chemical, pharmaceutical and food processing industry), care-work both in the public and private sector, services (retailing and transport) and information work (computer services, county administration). The research project was at the same time a development project in order to find more innovative and suitable arrangements in combining work and family life. This development work was based on the holistic view of the human being. Artists, actors, film makers, a workplace consultant and a graphic artist, were used to facilitate discussion and to promote new approaches. Small sketches, a video on fatherhood, the project's own logo and poster were produced during the project.
The data was collected in two surveys in 96-97 and 98-99. Around 700 employees replied. Only 10% of the employees (in 98-99) were of the opinion that it was easier to talk with their superiors, rather than colleagues, about the problems of combining work and family. Talking with colleagues was easier for 20%. 10% said there were some new practices at the workplace after the project. When the project started, the issues of combining work and family were quite new, and thus the results can be seen as a good starting point. A majority of the personnel of each workplace thought that an attempt to make it easier to combine work and home improves the working atmosphere, helps them to cope better with their work and improves the wellbeing of the family.
A sensitive, listening attitude at the workplaces is required when the reconciliation of work and family is in question. The term 'best practice' was criticised, as there can be many good practices in combining work and family. This work and family project, as well as other studies, have shown that the issues involve fundamental and often unconscious and taken-for-granted notions of what is a good worker, what is commitment, how is commitment measured and also conceptions of trust and fairness (p.64).