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Evaluate the scope of remote work

Evaluate the scope of remote work

Remote work entered our lives with the pandemic for a large portion of us; And it stayed there for a lot of people. We are now beginning to better understand the consequences – perhaps even for personal finances. Meditation, in three stages.


(More or less) hidden 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 in between. But if you're in the office, you won't see it…,” explains sociologist Francine Decarie, from the Institute for Feminist Research and Studies. (IREF).

Each person did the housework in his own way, according to his own rules.

Some have set very strict boundaries between working from home and the personal and family life that happens there as well, others will easily recognize themselves in the example given by Francine Decarie: It is very easy to put the buns in the oven and take out the trash between two meetings difference.

Photo by François Roy, Press Archive

According to Claire Estagnasi, a PhD student in Communications at UQAM, remote working leads to an intertwining of professional and personal lives which can create confusion and blurring of boundaries.

“Remote working is exceptional because it allows us to adapt,” continues Francine Decarie, Emeritus Professor at UQAM. But I think we end up getting more work out of it, not less. »

According to her, this extra burden may be subtle, but all these little things add up. By the end of the week, their number will be significant. Perhaps more for women.

The sociologist points out that in this case there is also a discrepancy: women are more likely to choose to work from home than men, which is confirmed by statistical data. It is necessary to evaluate the impact on income, if any, as well as on family responsibilities. The same applies to four-day weeks, as Francine Decarie emphasizes.

Photo by Martin Chamberland, Press Archive

Francine Decarie, 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 enhances the role of women to be responsible for the home.

Francine Decarie, sociologist

A recent study by the Financial Security Chamber focuses on women's savings, but also points to the inequalities that remain between sharing household and educational tasks.


Read Marie-Eve Fournier's column “Moms Don't Have Time to Save”

Remote working creates a situation of “remote working”, notes Claire Estagnasi, who is doing a PhD in Communications at UQAM on “remote working from everywhere”.

First, there is “the intertwining of professional and personal life,” according to the researcher. “This can create confusion and blurring of boundaries.”

She specifies: Many people see that the ability to perform tasks unrelated to work during working hours, between two states, is a clear advantage.

But this also leads to post-organization, where planning the things to do at work and those related to personal life are intertwined.

Regulating the cross-linking of domains is additional work.

Claire Estagnacier, PhD student in Communications

All this storm caused by the pandemic and the review of the way we work has had an unexpected benefit: “We have discovered what mental load is!”, Lise Curto, President of AFEAS, launches feminist action for education and social work, one of whose main interests for a very long time has been work The invisible.

According to Liz Curto, remote work can contribute to an imbalance, meaning the person who stays at home can do more. In this case, you have to be clear and realize it, she says.

Photo by François Roy, Press Archive

Although we have been interested in remote work for a long time, we are only beginning to analyze the phenomenon that has increased after the pandemic.

Women more than men

There are no shortages of materials that do not produce productivity or efficiency in the workforce: They are in surplus, note Diane-Gabrielle Tremblay, professor at the Department of Economy and Gestion at TELUQ that is interested in sociological questions. a job.

Concretely, it will replace the time we spend chatting with a colleague or the time we go out for a walk between two files. In a study co-signed by Professor Diane Gabriel Tremblay in 2006, we observed that one in ten workers cited increased productivity as the primary benefit of remote work.

Although we have been interested in remote work for a long time, we are only beginning to analyze the phenomenon that has increased after the pandemic. According to the Quebec Institute of Statistics, in 2022, 40% of female workers worked remotely compared to 34% of men.

Photo courtesy of TELUQ, LA PRESSE Archive

Diane Gabrielle Tremblay is a professor in the Department of Economics and Management at TELUQ University

Qualitative surveys also tend to support this trend, says 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 generally take over the closed office.

“It will be calmer, more free from other activities, while the woman is more settled in a less convenient place,” explains Diane Gabriel Tremblay. It is rare for homes to have two offices. »

Indeed, 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 life from family life when they work from home.

Claire Estagnacier is conducting on-site observations as part of her research and what she sees confirms this data: “In a heterosexual couple, with children, when both parents work remotely, perhaps the man has an office and will actually work remotely all day, says the researcher. “And the woman is the one who will carry the laundry.”

Many parents say that working remotely allows them to spend more time with their children, says Claire Estagnasi. While housework generally does not fit into their working days at home, according to the doctoral student's observations.

“The relationship between the sexes does not come up very often, because these are internal roles,” confirms the person who observed this even in younger couples, although a little less often.

If one spouse works from home, the issue should be openly discussed.

This should definitely be discussed, because it completely changes the structure of daily life.

Claire Estagnacier, PhD student in Communications

The professional arrangement, whatever it may be, is worth discussing if it is carried out between spouses, believes Liz Curto. It does not matter who stays in the house or whether there is one woman, two women, or no one at all in the couple. MI Corto believes that couples should do this when taking parental leave, which undoubtedly affects their careers.

“In paternity leave, there are also promotions that go through,” says the President of AFEAS, who advises not to make these decisions lightly and to measure their impact, especially in the long term.

Photo by Alain Roberge, Press Archive

If one spouse works from home, the issue should be openly discussed.

Remote work, ambition, promotions…

In one study with Diane Gabrielle Tremblay, which was conducted before the pandemic, we observed that more ambitious employees, both men and women, showed up more in the office.

“They were less interested in working remotely,” she says. Especially for workers aged 25 to 45, while older employees who had no expectations of promotion did not feel much of this need to work in the office, the researcher explains.

This trend is even more true in areas where being in the office leads to better files. Being in the office also promotes knowledge transfer, whether done formally or informally, says Diane Gabriel Tremblay.

Power networks and exchanges develop more locally, whereas if you are at home, you will be less visible in your company than colleagues who meet your bosses.

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

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

She also believes that remote work can serve as a catalyst to start the discussion, but this should also be the case for paternity leave or other arrangements.

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  • 20%
    One in five Canadians works remotely

    Source: Statistics Canada, November 2023

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