File | Remote work, a couple’s decision? (2 items)


Remote work entered our lives with the pandemic of a significant part of us; it stayed there for many people. We are now beginning to better understand its implications – and perhaps even on personal finances. Reflection, in three stages.


That (more or less) fine charge

“When you work from home, you don’t take a step back. You can see the stain on the carpet. So we’ll clean it up in the meantime. But if you’re in an office, you won’t see it…”, illustrates sociologist Francine Descarries from the Institute for Research and Feminist Studies (IREF).

Everyone adapted to the work of the house in their own way, according to their own rules.

Some have set very strict boundaries between working from home and the personal and family life that also takes place there, others are easy to identify with the example of Francine Descarries: it is so easy to put the muffins in the oven and take out the garbage. between two meetings Teams.

PHOTO ARCHIVE FRANÇOIS ROY, LA PRESSE

According to Claire Estagnasié, a PhD candidate in communication at UQAM, remote work leads to the intermingling of professional and personal life, which can cause confusion and a blurring of boundaries.

“Remote work is special because it allows us to accommodate,” continues Francine Descarries, professor emeritus at UQAM. But I think we’ll end up with more work than less. »

According to her, this extra burden may be subtle, but all these little things add up. They will be substantial by the end of the week. And maybe more for women.

The sociologist points out that even in this case there is a disparity: women choose to work from home more often than men, which is also confirmed by statistical data. The impact on any income as well as family responsibilities must be assessed. The same goes for four-day weeks, Francine Descarries points out.

PHOTO MARTIN CHAMBERLAND, LA PRESSE ARCHIVE

Francine Descarries, sociologist

In my opinion, this is not a step forward, because it allows us to solve family problems and free the whole family for the weekend. This strengthens the role of women to be responsible for the household.

Francine Descarries, sociologist

A recent study by the Chamber of Financial Security focuses on women’s savings, but also highlights the inequity that exists between the sharing of household and educational tasks.

Read Marie-Eve Fournier’s column “Mothers Have No Time to Save”

Remote work creates a situation of “metawork”, suggests Claire Estagnasié, who is doing a PhD in communication at UQAM on the topic of “remote work from anywhere”.

First of all, it is about “the interweaving of professional and personal life”, the researcher specifies. “And that can cause confusion and a blurring of boundaries. »

He clarifies: many people see this opportunity to do tasks that have nothing to do with working hours, between two mandates, as a clear advantage.

But this also causes meta-organization, where the planning of things in work and in personal life is intertwined.

Organizing the blending of spheres is extra work.

Claire Estagnasié, Ph.D student in Communication

All this whirlwind caused by the pandemic and the revision of the way we work has an unsuspected benefit: “We found out what the psychological burden is! », opens Lise Courteau, president of AFEAS, Feminist Action for Education and Social Action, whose main concern has been invisible work for a very long time.

According to Lisa Courteau, telecommuting can contribute to an imbalance in that the person who stays at home can do more. In this case, he says, you have to be clear and recognize it.

PHOTO ARCHIVE FRANÇOIS ROY, LA PRESSE

Although we’ve been interested in remote work for a long time, we’re only just beginning to analyze the phenomenon that has grown since the pandemic.

More women than men

The addition of housework does not reduce productivity or efficiency in employment: it is done in excess, notes Diane-Gabrielle Tremblay, a professor in the Department of Economics and Management at TELUQ who is interested in issues of the sociology of work.

Specifically, it replaces the time spent chatting with a colleague or the time we go for a walk between two files. In a 2006 study co-authored by Professor Diane-Gabrielle Tremblay, we noted that one in ten workers cited increased productivity as the main benefit of telecommuting.

Although we’ve been interested in remote work for a long time, we’re only just beginning to analyze the phenomenon that has grown since the pandemic. According to the Quebec Statistics Institute, 40% of women will work remotely in 2022, compared to 34% of men.

PHOTO COURTESY OF TELUQ ARCHIVE, LA PRESSE

Diane-Gabrielle Tremblay, Professor in the Department of Economics and Management at TELUQ

Qualitative surveys also support this trend, explains Diane-Gabrielle Tremblay, whose work makes it possible to clarify other differences in behavior at work. For example, in the case of a heterosexual couple where both spouses work from home, the man will usually occupy a closed office.

“He will be calmer, freer from other activities, while the woman will settle more in a less suitable place,” explains Diane-Gabrielle Tremblay. It is rare for houses to have two offices. »

Already in 2000, in a British study on working from home, two researchers (then from the University of Leicester) concluded that women have more difficulty separating professional and family life when they work from home.

As part of her research, Claire Estagnasié makes in situ observations and what she sees is confirmed by this data: “In a heterosexual couple with children, when both parents work remotely, the man will possibly have an office and will actually work remotely all day,” she says researcher. . And it is the woman who will do the washing. »

Many fathers say that working remotely allows them to spend more time with their children, explains Claire Estagnasié. While housework, according to the observation of the PhD student, generally does not suit them during working days at home.

“Gender relationship doesn’t come often because it’s about internalized roles,” confirms the one who noticed it even in the youngest couples, although a little less often.

In the case where one of the two people in the couple works from home, this topic should be the subject of an honest discussion.

This is absolutely necessary to discuss because it completely changes the architecture of everyday life.

Claire Estagnasié, Ph.D student in Communication

A professional arrangement, whatever it is, deserves discussion if it’s done as a couple, believes Lise Courteau. It doesn’t matter who stays at home or whether there is one woman, two women or none at all. Mme Courteau believes couples should do this while taking parental leave, which has an undeniable career impact.

“There are also promotions that will go through on parental leave,” says the AFEAS president, who recommends not taking these decisions lightly and measuring the impact, especially in the long term.

PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, LA PRESSE ARCHIVE

If one of the two people in the couple works from home, this topic should be a matter of frank discussion.

Remote work, ambitions, promotions…

In one of the studies that Diane-Gabrielle Tremblay participated in, conducted before the pandemic, we noticed that more ambitious employees, both men and women, showed up in the office.

“They were interested in working remotely,” he says. Especially for workers aged 25 to 45, while older employees who do not expect a promotion did not feel this need to be in action in the office as much, the researcher explains.

This trend is even more true in areas where being in the office leads to better files. Being in an office also encourages knowledge transfer, whether it happens formally or informally, says Diane-Gabrielle Tremblay.

Networks of power and exchange develop more locally, while if you are at home you will be less visible in the company than your colleagues who meet the bosses.

Are absentees likely to be less in these networks and miss out on promotions, especially in certain environments where the criteria for getting a position are more subjective?

“Obviously, we don’t have the perspective to see the impact on someone’s career,” explains Diane-Gabrielle Tremblay.

He also believes that telecommuting can be an incentive to start a discussion, but that this must also be the case in the case of parental leave or other arrangements.

Find out more

  • 20%
    One in five Canadians works remotely.

    Source: Statistics Canada, November 2023





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