Employers and employees alike now agree that COVID-19 will permanently change the way people work, with home offices becoming the rule rather than the exception. While working from home offers several advantages, blending office and family responsibilities also comes with challenges…along with inequities between working spouses that often favor husbands over wives, a research team from The Ohio State University recently found.
During the pandemic, the team led daily surveys of two separate groups of dual-earning couples in 2020 and 2021. Couples in the first group had at least one child, while those in the second didn’t necessarily have children. Husbands and wives in both groups were asked about their work-from-home status each day, and gave detailed information about the number of work and family or household tasks they completed. They also provided feedback about their attitudes toward these tasks, and any conflicts between them.
The surveys showed that when men had flexible home-based work schedules, their wives also working from home found themselves handling significantly more household tasks than before. Wives were also more likely than husbands to report feeling guilty about not working on household chores or spending time with their families during work hours.
"We found that men and women don't have the same experience working from home. There are still some gendered differences in how they manage their job and family responsibilities," said Jasmine Hu, lead author of the study and professor of management at the university’s Fisher College of Business.
The study found the burden of unclear boundaries between work and home life tends to fall on women’s shoulders more often, which could lead to more frequent instances of “inter-role conflict, psychological withdrawal from work and feelings of guilt concerning work for their employers,” Hu added.
The study was published recently in the journal Personnel Psychology.