Half of UK parents say home working has increased their workload

Working parents struggle with work-life balance

Almost half (48%) of UK working parents say that working from home has actually increased their workload, according to research by Working Families and Bright Horizons.

The 2020 Modern Families Index, which surveyed more than 3,000 UK parents, also revealed that 44% check their emails or do other work in the evening; three-quarters (75%) of these do so because they feel like they have no choice in the matter. Almost a further three-fifths (58%) admitted to working extra, unpaid hours. 

Almost half (47%) of working parents reported that technology has blurred the boundaries between work and home life, while only 25% said that technology has not affected their work-home boundaries. 

The majority (72%) of parents who work outside of their contracted hours are more likely to report that they feel stressed, while 54% stated that this had led to arguments with their children, and 57% said it contributed to arguments with partners.

Denise Priest, director of employer partnerships at Bright Horizons, said: “The tide is slowly turning in favour of family-friendly workplaces. But many employers could do more to ensure they are retaining talent and minimising attrition. Stress and burnout are frequent dangers, especially as technology blurs the boundaries between home and work. Technology can be a wonderful enabler, but when it means employees don’t feel they can switch off in the evenings and weekends, inevitably family life suffers.”

Jane van Zyl, chief executive officer at Working Families, added: “The research makes clear that jobs need to be ‘human-sized’. Employers who design roles that can be done in their contracted hours and encourage ‘switching off’ will feel the benefit of happier, healthier workers. Requiring employers to be proactive about offering flexible and part-time roles could be a catalyst for better job design. This is what we believe will ultimately deliver a better work-life balance for parents and carers.”