You may not be changing your pants as much since working from home, but you could be changing your family dynamics and relationships. Recent research confirms what many workers have learned in the last three years: remote work is changing the fabric of American families.
For many families, having at least one adult working from home has proven to be an unequivocal improvement to household mental health and relationships. In other cases, remote work has introduced new strains and burdens. One clear thing in all cases is that the tidal shift toward remote work is making waves throughout the typical American household.
Tradeoffs for Remote Workers and Their Families
Since the massive shift toward remote work began in early 2020, there has been a constant conversation on the human impact of that shift. Unfortunately, since it was and still is a developing phenomenon, we have primarily relied on anecdotal evidence and news stories to understand these effects.
However, thanks to a recent meta-analysis from the National Library of Medicine (NLM), we now have extensive data painting a new picture of the American family in the remote work era.
Closeness Begets Closeness: Remote Work and Family Bonds
The typical American 9-5 takes significantly more than 8 hours per day away from families. Additional factors like long commutes, overtime, and work events can diminish people’s time with their loved ones beyond the core working hours of the day. Remote positions can significantly reduce this time away from family or even eliminate it.
As a result, remote workers spend more time around their families. Thanks to this change, many families have seen an increase in their quality time together since one or more members switched to remote work. Per the NLM, that extra time can benefit the family’s well-being.
More time around family contributes to stronger relationships, a better understanding of one another, and more opportunities to offer family support. In addition, WFH employees tend to carry lower stress, further positively impacting interpersonal dynamics with family.
Possibly due to several of these factors, there has been a significant drop in domestic violence crimes during this period. While the pandemic and work-from-home transition undoubtedly gave rise to domestic violence in some instances, the NLM report cites data showing the overall trend that associated crimes are down 8.7%.
Old Burdens and New Ones in the Remote Work Era
Remote work offers much potential for strengthening the ties of family networks, but it doesn’t guarantee it. In some cases, the new dynamic has exacerbated existing tensions and created new ones.
For instance, women who already bore a disproportionate share of unpaid household responsibilities often found this imbalance got worse after shifting to remote work.
Instead of gaining more time to keep up with housework and childcare, many women experienced the opposite. Partners in these cases often adopted higher expectations and a more hands-off approach to ostensibly shared responsibilities after the transition.
Remote work may also create new challenges in raising children. While having a parent more present is generally positive, too much exposure to a parent’s work life could harm the way children think about work and their parents. Some experts suspect that kids could receive the wrong messages about workplace interpersonal dynamics and prioritizing work above family members.
Remote Work, Families, and Mental Health
The available data and reporting frame the transition to remote work as not necessarily good or bad for family dynamics. Families have landed across a spectrum of positive and negative experiences after this change. The lasting effects depend largely on interpretation and intentionality.
Some families have found a bastion of safety, psychological support, and uplifting social connections within their households. Others have discovered new obstacles and rediscovered old ones.
What they all have in common is significantly more time together in this new stage.
One key finding of the NLM report is that work-life balance is more important for family relationships than remote work itself. At a broad scale, remote work doesn’t directly correlate to improved work-life balance. However, it is an opportunity.
Changing to a remote position allows workers to see their families more. It also creates more space to set clear boundaries with one’s job and protect that precious family time.
For those who acknowledge and grasp this opportunity, remote work could be one of the best things to happen to your family bonds and mental health. However, it is a significant life transition, and those who enter such changes with complacency are likely to meet disappointing results.
Facing the Remote Work Landscape as a Family
Remote work is changing the fabric of American families in several different ways. The fabric you arrive at depends on the one you started with and how you adapt to the change. What can be an endless season of quality time and pillow forts can also become an echo chamber of stress and tension. This shift impacts everyone differently, and that’s okay.
If your recent family change toward remote work has been less than stellar, try not to worry. This transition is massive for many families, and change isn’t always easy. Remember to keep having conversations with your family, with professional support if needed, and keep working to draw out the positives of this new situation.
This article was produced by Finance Quick Fix and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
While scrolling one of my favorite internet forums, I encountered an exciting question addressed to me, “What popular manly activity do you have no interest in and why?” Here are the top-voted responses.
One man admitted, “I know nothing about cars except they have four wheels and go vroom.” “Real talk; this right here. A guy once asked me if my car is all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive?”
“And I legit told him, ‘Four wheels are all of them,” another said. Finally, a third confessed, “I know more about cars now because I dated a woman in the car scene.”
Many men admitted they like to play sports but don't watch them. Others didn't even play or have any interest in sports. “Sports and going on rampages when their favorite team loses?”
“Like my guy. It's just a game,” shared one. “It's so unbelievably dull to watch sports. I can't focus for more than a few minutes. And I don't get those who get all fanatic and angry about it. Again, it's just a game,” confirmed another.
3. Strip Clubs
“I don't see it anywhere here, so I'll say strip clubs and strippers. I feel like it's just gross. I understand why it's fun or exciting to some, but all I see are other guys with insecurities and mental health issues,” replied one.
“Agree. I went with a friend one time just for the experience, but neither of us was really into it. The strippers are hot, but they obviously only want money. And the strip club was full of sad, creepy-looking men,” a second user agreed.
“Hunting. I love animals,” one man shared. Another expressed, “Same. I know deer are hunted to control the population, but I can't do it.” “Same,” said another. “Although I don't have a problem with hunting per se, more so just hunting for sport as a consumer activity.”
“Fishing,” someone confessed. “It's incredibly boring.” “I would love fishing if I didn't have to bait the fish,” a second person admitted before a third volunteered, “Fly fishing.” Finally, a third said, “100%. I love the outdoors. I love the beach, but I can't get into fishing.”
6. Fantasy Leagues
“Fantasy leagues; tried it once. That was enough for me,” one man responded. “It's just Dungeons and Dragons for jocks,” claimed another. “It's just Dungeons and Dragons for people who don't want to admit they're into D&D,” a third suggested.
7. Home Improvement
One man said, “Home improvement. I don't know anything about installing floors, plumbing, windows, electrician stuff, etc.”
“As a man into home improvement, I dislike this stereotype,” a second confessed. “I've seen too many guys getting themselves hurt because they felt an obligation to be able to do repair work but didn't know what they were doing, myself included.”
“Golf….drinking….drinking….golf,” one said. “I'd rather watch paint dry. It's more interesting.” “My father-in-law watches golf for hours, and I cannot understand the appeal… it's so freakin boring,” another admitted.
9. Lawn Care
“Lawn care. I live in Florida, and mowing in the summer is brutal,” one man stated. “I live in Florida and have a pretty small yard. So people asked why I bought a rider since it was small. Do you know how freaking hot it is? It takes me ten minutes to mow with a rider,” another shared.
10. The Gym
“I have nothing against building up strength and getting exercise, but it has to be part of something, not the thing in and of itself. I'm thrilled to scramble over rocks in the mountains or haul on lines on a sailboat, but you couldn't pay me to go to a gym,” replied one.
“I'm with you on that,” agreed another. “I enjoy getting exercise, but I hate exercising. So I don't want to spend hours per week doing something only for exercise. Still, I appreciate working in my garden or other physical tasks that provide exercise.”
More From Finance Quick Fix:
- Top 10 Companies People Would Shut Down if Given the Power
- Does Doordash Pay for Gas?
- 10 Terrible Fads People Are Glad Died Out