Husbands Do Fewer Family Tasks When Wives Work From Home

Studies in China and South Korea suggest that cultural gender differences continue to influence how heterosexual couples experience work-from-home.

AsianScientist (Jan. 27, 2023) – The COVID-19 pandemic forced a large proportion of working population to move to work-from-home, which soon became a new normal across the world. Two studies, conducted in China and South Korea, examined how this work-from-home impacted dual-earner heterosexual couples in their shared spaces at home and whether the work-family experiences of husbands were different from their wives.

The study findings published in Personnel Psychology show that both husbands and wives completed more family-related tasks while working from home in comparison to the time when they worked from their offices outside. However, when wives worked from home, husbands completed fewer family tasks than when their wives worked in the office. On the contrary, wives did not complete fewer tasks when husbands worked from home.

 Work-from-home set up also increased the couples’ feelings of inter-role conflict, psychological withdrawal from work, and guilt when they missed work for their employer. Moreover, wives in both studies felt increased guilt about not being able to complete housework and spending less time with their families when they had to work at office. In case of husbands, this result was observed only in the South Korean study.

“We found that men and women don’t have the same experience working from home,” said Jasmine Hu, lead author of the study and professor of management at The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business. Hu added that gendered differences continue to influence how husbands and wives manage their job and family responsibilities.

The researchers conducted two studies, both during the COVID-19 pandemic. One study surveyed 172 dual-earner married couples with at least one child in mainland China between April and May 2020. The second study was conducted in South Korea, later in the pandemic, from June to August 2021 and involved 60 dual-earner couples, some with children and some without.

All participants completed two surveys daily for 14 consecutive workdays for both the studies having questions such as amount of office and household work they did, how much guilt they experienced toward their families and work, and their psychological withdrawal from work and families.

Findings from the study showed that when husbands had flexible work schedules, wives completed significantly more office work. And when wives had inflexible work situations, husbands did more household related tasks when working from home.

Hu says these findings suggest that husbands with flexible work schedules could help remote-working wives and do more family tasks when their wives have more rigid work schedules.

Based on the results, Hu advises managers to form realistic expectations about how much work their remote-working employees can effectively handle and show more understanding of the home-working situations of dual-earner couples.

“Organizations and managers should give their male employees more flexibility when possible so they and their families can better adapt to crises like the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.

COVID-19 forever changed how people work, and remote work will become the norm. People have gotten used to the benefits of working from home, and many won’t want to return to the office full-time, says Hu. She added that hybrid work is the best possible future for working couples.

Source: Ohio State University;  Image: Shutterstock

The article can be found at Double challenges: How working from home affects dual-earner couples’ work-family experiences

Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.


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