Work from home experiences differ for couples

A study suggests husbands should be given more flexibility at work to support their wives in accomplishing their work and family responsibilities.
By: | January 5, 2023

Working from home may be a better option for husbands than wives in dual-earner couples, according to two related studies of employees in China and South Korea.

In particular, wives with flexible work schedules completed more work tasks at home than in the office when their husbands had flexible work schedules. When wives had inflexible work arrangements, husbands completed more family tasks when working from home.

The study also found that employees, both husbands and wives, increased the amount of work they completed around their home and family when they worked from home. This resulted in feelings of inter-role conflict, psychological withdrawal from work, and guilt related to their employer’s work.

As such, Jasmine Hu, lead author of the study and professor of management at the Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business, recommended managers to have realistic expectations of how much work their remote-working employees can manage, as well as demonstrate a greater understanding of the homeworking situations of dual-earner couples.

To help male employees cope better with crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, she also suggested organisations and managers provide them with greater flexibility whenever possible. While several of the work-from-home policies studied in this study were implemented because of the pandemic, Hu argued that they will not revert to the way they were before the pandemic.

READ: Flexibility for employees in India as hybrid work set to stay

“COVID-19 forever changed how we work. Remote working is going to become much more of a norm,” she said. “People have really got used to the benefit of working from home and many won’t want to go back to the office full time.”

Hu emphasised that hybrid work is the “best possible future” for working couples. Employees will be able to enjoy the flexibility that comes with working from home, while also having the opportunity to interact more with colleagues at work, leading to increased collaboration and innovative thinking, she added.