Professor Scott Schieman spoke with Ontario Morning’s Julianne Hazelwood on CBC Radio January 13th about his ongoing research on the impact of COVID-19 on how Canadians balance their work lives with their family and social lives. Professor Schieman began researching how workers and employers alike thought about and experienced flexible, remote work arrangements in 2019 and has since been following up with those participants throughout the pandemic. He explained that the ability to work from home has emerged as a new form of workplace inequality, generally dividing workers along socioeconomic lines. Professor Schieman remarked that workers with higher education backgrounds and income tend to have more autonomy over their work lives and are now most likely to be able to work from home.
Despite lower risk of exposure and greater financial and job security, Professor Schieman found some significant drawbacks to remote work during COVID-19. His research found that, while most Canadian workers experienced less conflict between their work and social lives – called work-family conflict – as social opportunities withered under shutdowns, those working from home continued to experience similar levels of pre-COVID work-family conflict. This was also true for those with young children at home.
Professor Schieman speculated that remote workers’ current dissatisfaction with full-time remote work may shape how flexible and remote working arrangements are viewed in the near future. Professor Schieman said the long-term impact of COVID-19 the landscape of work is still hard to predict, but expects that the pandemic will shape how workers and employers come to measure “job loyalty” and “dedication” by time spent at the office.
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.
Listen to the full broadcast here.