What’s going on:
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly increased the number of parents, particularly mothers, working from home in the U.S. Findings from WFH Research in 2022 observed that mothers worked from home on an average of 33.6% of their workdays, according to Vox. This figure stands in comparison to fathers, who worked from home for an average of 32.4% of their workdays, and men without children, for whom the figure was 27.7%.
The shift to remote work has had its perks, including flexibility and the possibility to better balance family responsibilities with professional ones. However, there are concerns by some experts that remote work contributes to career stagnation among women. This could deepen inequalities amongst those unable to work from home, such as service-sector workers.
Vox reports that studies also highlight potential gender disparities in household and childcare responsibilities. Data by Pew Research reveals that when both parents work from home, the mother typically takes on the majority of childcare tasks.
Why it matters:
The increase in work-from-home parents could have a long-term impact on family dynamics, societal norms, and the structure of the workforce. The trend could potentially compound existing gender disparities in childcare and housework, potentially impacting career progress for many women. The situation also underscores the societal need for affordable, flexible childcare options and fair work schedules.
How it’ll impact the future:
The rise in remote working is reshaping the concept of work-life balance, potentially leading to a more integrated approach to work and home life. The need for flexibility and the continued desire for remote work opportunities could drive changes in company policies and expectations. However, it’s crucial to navigate this shift in a way that doesn’t amplify existing inequalities, and therefore, serious considerations will need to be given to fair work schedules and opportunities for advancement for remote workers. This evolution could also stimulate developments in childcare provision, including innovative solutions such as coworking spaces that accommodate children.