Navigating the Work-Home Boundary: Socio-Spatial Reading of Home as Workspace

Nidhi Sohane, Rasha Hasan Lala  | 2023


Home-based work is a substantive form of livelihood across cities of the Global South, entrenched in informality of not only space but also livelihood, and occurring in sites that exist in tension with planning and policy. Users of such sites have to further navigate through the myriad complexities, benefits, and vulnerabilities that are resultant from an overlap of domestic and economically productive realms. This paper builds on previous work by the authors on the spatio-temporal reading of home-based work and the interface of domestic and productive realms through what the authors refer to as the work-home boundary (Sohane, Lall, Lala et al, 2021). It explores methods of documenting the work-home boundary – and how it is perceived and articulated by users. It aims to fill a critical gap in the knowledge around home-based work by wielding a socio-spatial lens in reading work-homes, and foregrounding the experiences of users in managing the work-home boundary. The study employs a mixed methods approach of in-depth interviews around the everyday execution of domestic and productive activities juxtaposed with a spatio-temporal study of the work-home, across scales and their engagement with various stakeholders. Through this, the paper aims to unpack the complex agency users exert in managing the work-home boundary and their engagement with other stakeholders across scales, and draw lessons for planning and policy.