The COVID-19 pandemic might have a silver lining for employed dads, as working from home proves viable.
Many fathers who have struggled with flexibility at work have welcomed the transition as it means they are able to spend more time with their children.
Dr Ashlee Borgkvist from the University of South Australia’s Centre for Workplace Excellence says this shift is challenging social norms and fronts many opportunities for young families.
“In Australia, most dads tend to work full-time, limiting the time they can spend with their families. Now, as so many businesses have shifted to work-from-home scenarios, the current norm is changing, with everyone – children, families and workplaces – realising the benefits,” Dr Borgkvist said.
Research suggests gender imbalances occurs within working hours, with fathers of children under 12 working an average of 40 to 46 hours a week, compared to mothers who work about 28 hours a week.
Joel Theodore, director of Australian manufacturing company GiD, said that the transition has allowed him to help out his wife with their newborn son and two-year-old daughter.
“I’m within arms reach of my wife now, which means I can help her out with whatever she needs,” Mr Theodore said.
“When she’s on maternity leave and I’m at work, it was mostly up to her to manage everything at home but now I get to give her a break and spend more time with the kids.
“I hope we can keep this up now that we know how well it can work.”
Matt Richards, a laboratory technician at the CSIRO said that the pandemic has been a wake-up call.
“It’s been a bit of a reality check that we have been missing out on a lot of family time,” he said.
Dr Borgkvist hopes that the pandemic will open the eyes of employers to how effective working from home can be.
“Until now, most Australian fathers have not used flexible or part-time work arrangements, despite these options being available to them through their employer,” she said.
“The reasons why are multifaceted, often linked to men’s perceptions of the ideal worker, workplace cultures, and long-held constructions of masculinity.
“It’s now that fathers will be able to show how working from home can be as productive, if not more so, than working in an office. And in turn, boost their confidence that working at home is an acceptable and possible workplace construct.”