Husbands fulfilled fewer household chores when wives worked from home.
A recent study reveals that when it comes to working from home, women in dual-income households have completely inverse experiences from men. The issue is that working from home means the job demands frequently overlap with obligations to one's family and home: in addition to child care and housework, there are work demands. According to a recent study from Ohio State University, working women typically bear a greater share of that load than working men, per HuffPost.
For the study, the researchers ran two surveys, both during the COVID-19 crisis. The first study, conducted earlier in the pandemic, examined 172 married, heterosexual couples with two incomes who lived in mainland China and had at least one kid. The second study, done at a later point in the pandemic, featured 60 dual-earner heterosexual couples in South Korea, some with children and some without.
For 14 consecutive workdays, the couples completed two surveys at the end of the day disclosing whether they worked from home as well as how much work and household chores they performed. The researchers discovered that husbands and wives did more family-specific duties when both had flexible schedules. However, husbands fulfilled fewer household chores when wives worked from home and not in the office. On the other hand, when husbands worked from home, wives did not finish fewer tasks.
Simply put, wives working from home reduced their husbands' burden of household chores, but not the other way around. Women have traditionally worked a "second shift" at home because it is expected that they go to work during the day and then take care of the kids and the house in the evenings. The pandemic, remote work, and school have further added to the workload.
“These findings suggest husbands can provide more resources and support for their wives to complete remote work tasks when they have flexibility in scheduling their work time and procedure,” said Jasmine Hu, Professor of management at The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business, the lead researcher.
Studies in past found that mothers are more than three times as likely as fathers to perform the majority of household and parental duties, according to a 2021 McKinsey survey. Additionally, they are 1.5 times more likely than dads to put in an additional three or more hours a day for childcare and housework. Anxiety and loneliness, among other symptoms of depression and burnout, were shown to be more common among mothers with children who worked from home in 2020 than in fathers with equally flexible work schedules.
Britt Riley, co-founder of the Coggeshall Club, a facility that combines a daycare center, co-working area, and fitness center suggested, “People are really productive when they know they have a set amount of time to get something done.
With lessons for not just married couples, but also managers and organizations, this research urges businesses to be aware of what their employees are going through if they want working parents to have a truly healthy work-life balance. “Organizations and decision-makers may find it particularly useful to empower their male employees with flexibility so they and their families can better adapt to the crisis and restore the balance of their family systems,” she said. She further added, “We believe that our findings can be generalized to post-crisis time. For the foreseeable future, the COVID-19 crisis can dramatically change how employees work and how dual-earner couples fulfill work and family duties.”
Cover Image Source: Getty Images