Study reveals sad reality of couples working from home: ScienceAlert

Study reveals sad reality of couples working from home: ScienceAlert

Study reveals sad reality of couples working from home: ScienceAlert

The global pandemic has forced entire populations around the world to work from home, often bringing people closer to loved ones and loved ones 24/7.

According to a recent study by American and Chinese researchers, the experience of mixing domestic needs with professional duties poses very different challenges for the respective halves of heterosexual married couples.

Central to these differences are household chores and family time, including the types of tasks that can be done when working from home, such as washing or vacuuming, and dedication to responsibilities such as children, whether it’s naps or snacks.

The study findings were based on a survey of 223 two-earner couples from China and South Korea, and included households with and without children.

Participants were asked about the number of non-work tasks they performed while working from home and how this affected their family commitments.

“We found that men and women don’t have the same work-from-home experience,” says Jasmine Hu, professor of management at Ohio State University.

Statistics revealed that everyone felt they got more done at home when working alone from home. When two-earner couples lived together, men generally did less housework. For women, having their husbands at home during working hours did nothing to lighten their domestic burden.

In both countries studied, wives reported feeling more guilty for not doing household chores and spending more time with family when asked to do more work in the office. For husbands, this reported guilt was only noticeable in data from South Korea.

The researchers also examined the flexibility of an employer-sanctioned home/office routine. When husbands had flexible work arrangements, wives did more of their professional work while working at home; when wives had flexibility at work, husbands completed more household chores when working at home.

“These findings suggest that husbands might help wives who work remotely when they have more flexible work schedules and do more family work when their wives have more rigid work schedules,” Hu says.

In addition, both men and women felt more guilty about their jobs and had a greater sense of conflict between home and work life, as they performed more home-related tasks while working from home.

The aim of the study is to improve the work-from-home experience for employees and employers, the researchers say – and to show that flexibility and understanding are important, especially in households where both partners adults do their work from home rather than an office.

Partners should share household chores, the study authors suggest, while companies should recognize the difficulties that arise when the lines between work and family life become increasingly blurred.

“COVID-19 has forever changed the way we work,” says Hu. “Remote work is going to become much more of a norm.”

“People have really gotten used to the benefits of working from home and many won’t want to go back to the office full time.”

The research has been published in Staff psychology.

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