Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/217482
Title: WORKING FROM HOME DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC IN SINGAPORE: DOES IT HELP TO LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD FOR WOMEN IN WHITE-COLLAR WORK?
Authors: WONG JIA YI
Keywords: MANAGEMENT & ORGANISATION
Issue Date: 5-Apr-2021
Citation: WONG JIA YI (2021-04-05). WORKING FROM HOME DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC IN SINGAPORE: DOES IT HELP TO LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD FOR WOMEN IN WHITE-COLLAR WORK?. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the way people work. Worldwide, efforts to contain the virus included lockdowns and implementing workplaces closures. As a result, working from home became the norm for many office workers around the world in 2020. In Singapore, many employers made work from home arrangements for employees in compliance with the government’s “Circuit Breaker” regulations as well as safe management and social distancing measures. During the “Circuit Breaker” period (from 7 April 2020 to 1 June 2020), only essential services and their related supply chains were allowed to continue working at their usual workplaces; all schools had to shift to home-based learning. These restrictions were largely still in place in Singapore’s Phase One of re-opening, from 2 to 18 June 2020, where most businesses had to continue with working from home arrangements, and most school children had to rotate weekly between going to school and home-based learning. Such changes may result in families spending more time at home with more household work and care work, on top of adjusting to the new working arrangements. The division of paid and unpaid work at home has traditionally been unequal among men and women. Generally, women shoulder the bulk of domestic labour, as researchers have found in other countries with high economic development like the United Kingdom (UK), Australia, and South Korea (Kan & Laurie, 2016; E. H.-W. Kim, 2017; Sullivan et al., 2018). Work-from-home arrangements produced by the pandemic may result in shifts in division of unpaid labour in households. For instance, men may start to contribute towards more unpaid work at home. If work and family roles are renegotiated and men increase their contributions to unpaid work at home, women may be able to take on more workplace responsibilities. However, the reverse may actually occur, and women contribute even more at home, thereby reinforcing traditional gender roles instead (King et al., 2020). This highlights the concern that gender inequality would be exacerbated due to the pandemic. Hence, to prevent further deepening of gender inequality, it is crucial to pay attention to the added unpaid care work women and families face during the pandemic (Power, 2020). This study aims to understand Singapore white-collar workers’ experiences of working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, and whether working from home during the pandemic has helped to equalise the division of unpaid work between women and men. Interviews were first conducted, followed by an online survey with men and women in full-time white-collar jobs who have experienced working from home due to COVID-19. These two stages of data collection provide insights into whether men and women preferred to work from home in the future, the challenges and benefits faced by them when working from home, and how working from home during the pandemic has affected the distribution of paid and unpaid work that they did. The satisfaction of men and women with their job and family as a result of working from home during the pandemic was also examined. This paper will begin with an overview of gender inequality in Singapore and how this study can add to existing work in this field. This will be followed by an introduction on the current study and its aims. Next, for the methods employed in this study to reach its goals, details about the two phases of data collection – interviews and surveys – will be explored. The interviews revealed several broad themes, which guided the development of specific hypotheses to be tested using the survey data. The fourth part of this paper is a discussion about the insights obtained and the key limitations to the study. Finally, the paper is wrapped up with a conclusion.
URI: https://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/217482
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