It’s great to be able to work from home, but even better if you’re a man.
That’s according to a New Zealand study, which found that while most people liked working from home during the pandemic, women still did the lion’s share of the housework and childcare.
“Our study makes it clear that although flexible working has many benefits, it also highlights the difference between what men and women are expected to do around the home,” said Vittoria Shortt, chief executive at ASB Bank, which commissioned the survey. “With women still taking on responsibility for the bulk of domestic chores, the risk is that they are being disadvantaged both at work and in the home.”
New Zealand was already adopting more flexible working arrangements before the pandemic, including discussions about shorter working weeks, but the strict nationwide lockdown in 2020 accelerated the trend toward working from home. As the country’s surging Omicron outbreak takes hold, more employers are encouraging staff to stay away from workplaces, while school closures and disruptions require parents to be on hand for their children.
The study, conducted by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, shows more than 60% of those surveyed thought working from home was positive. However, when it came to juggling that with household responsibilities, women were significantly more likely to report doing all or most of the housework and childcare.
Only 22% of respondents felt the home-schooling load was shared fairly.
Women were also less likely than men to report having the ideal equipment and space to work from home, ASB said.
The study’s authors encouraged employers to challenge a culture in which workers are always on call and “any hint of meaningful interests outside of work or dedication to family is seen as a lack of commitment”.
This significantly impacts women, who are expected to balance domestic labour on top of paid work, increasing risks of burnout, they said.
The study was released to coincide with International Women’s Day. – Bloomberg