Professor Scott Schieman examines the work-from-home divide between parents and non-parents in two recent articles in The Star

image of Scott Schieman

Professor Scott Schieman recently published two articles on The Star about the changing work-life conflict and workplace culture for parents and non-parents during the pandemic. His first article titled “The pandemic has decreased work-life conflict for Canadians without kids — but parents aren’t so lucky” uses data collected from September 2019 to June 2020 to observe the changes in work-life conflict for parents and non-parents. In this study, he found that work-life conflict decreased among non-parents, whereas variation was found for parents depending on the age of their youngest child. As parents of younger children saw no decrease in work-life conflict, Professor Schieman warns that this disparity between workplace peers has the potential to create new inequalities in health.

His second article titled “One quarter of workers say those without kids are being asked to work harder than parents — is that fair?” interprets a survey conducted in the final week of September 2020 to observe how the pandemic has reshaped workplace culture and created new inequalities between parents and non-parents. While workplaces are now giving further accommodations to workers with children at home, this study showed how non-parent workers are feeling a burden to make up for the loss of productivity from their parental peers. Professor Schieman calls for an open discussion on parent and non-parent accommodations to find the “sweet spot” on what’s fair for both current and post-pandemic workplaces.

Professor Schieman is the Canada Research Chair in the Social Contexts of Health, a Full Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto, and Chair of the Department of Sociology, St. George Campus. His research focuses on work/stratification, the work-family interface, stress, and health.

We have included an excerpt from Professor Schieman’s first article below.

Read the full first article, “The pandemic has decreased work-life conflict for Canadians without kids — but parents aren’t so lucky” on The Star here (paywall).

Read the full second article, “One quarter of workers say those without kids are being asked to work harder than parents — is that fair?” on The Star here.

The pandemic has decreased work-life conflict for Canadians without kids — but parents aren’t so lucky 
By Scott Schieman
Sun., Sept. 27, 2020

How often does your job keep you from concentrating on important things in your family or personal life? How often do you not have enough time or energy for the important people in your life because of your job? How often does your work keep you from doing as good a job at home as you could?

If you answered “often” to these questions, you’re experiencing what sociologists call work-life conflict.

With the pandemic suddenly transforming the way many of us work, did work-life conflict increase or decrease during the onslaught of COVID-19?

It depends who you ask.

People with work-life conflict say their jobs make it difficult for them to give time and attention to their families or personal lives. They feel they have insufficient time or energy for their closest relationships, and that work undercuts their ability to perform their home-related duties.

We should strive to reduce work-life conflict because decades of research shows it takes an emotional and physical toll on our health and well-being.