26 September 2023

Home workers easy to leave door open

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A new report from the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) has found that even as COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed, more Australians are continuing with the option of working from home.

The Families in Australia Survey: Towards COVID Normal has revealed that among the employed survey respondents, 67 per cent were sometimes or always working from home, compared to 42 per cent before the pandemic.

However, lead researcher, Jennifer Baxter said while many respondents were enjoying the increased flexibility, 49 per cent of parents surveyed who were working from home reported finding it difficult to combine work and care responsibilities, compared to 40 per cent of those who never worked from home.

“Working from home is not a one-size-fits-all approach,” Dr Baxter said.

“Some are enjoying the added flexibility, while others miss the vibrancy of the office and those face-to-face conversations,” she said.

“Often, it can be about striking a balance between the two.”

The report found that among parents surveyed who were working from home, 22 per cent were always or often actively caring for children while working, while 15 per cent of parents were passively doing so.

This was especially true for mothers, of whom 23 per cent were often actively caring for children while working compared to 15 per cent of fathers.

“This doesn’t always mean productivity is sacrificed, however, as some jobs that involve working from home can readily be managed around care responsibilities,” Dr Baxter said.

The research found that when it came to couples adjusting work arrangements to care for children, mothers were the most likely to make changes.

In November and December 2020, 57 per cent of mothers worked part-time to accommodate childcare responsibilities, compared to nine per cent of fathers.

Flexible working hours (58 per cent) and working from home (52 per cent) were also common adjustments made by mothers, and for fathers also (38 per cent using flexible working hours and 36 per cent working from home to help care for children).

The full 10-page report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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