The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a significant change in the way employees work, with a large number of workers across Canada continuing to telework. Telework, which refers to working from home, has both positive and negative impacts on work-life wellness, depending on employee circumstances.

The COVID-related restrictions have eased across Canada, which has allowed for greater flexibility in terms of work and home arrangements. It is possible that this trend towards teleworking will continue in the long-term, leading to changes in family dynamics as partners adjust to the “new normal.”

Remote work

A recent study by the Canadian Journal of Career Development highlights the relationship dynamics of teleworking couples. A growing number of employees in Canada have continued to work remotely following the COVID-19 pandemic.

This shift towards remote work has changed family dynamics and put pressure on couples by making the tension between work and home more visible and pushing partners into traditional gender roles.

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The study aims to research work-life wellness for teleworking couples and address the question of “how do teleworking couples construct and cultivate work-life wellness together?” The authors believe that this study will inform policies, counseling techniques, and future research.

The growing number of employees in Canada who are choosing to work from home highlights the increasing acceptance of telework by employers globally. Work-life wellness encapsulates two main ideas – feeling well in a variety of domains and feeling well about the intersection of domains.

How couples adjust

While there is some evidence suggesting that partners influence each other’s work-life wellness, there is a lack of research on how they act together to pursue wellness. Telework has both positive and negative influences on work-life wellness and can increase or decrease personal time and work-life wellness, depending on factors such as boundaries, work demands, and overworking.

The study aims to answer the question, “how do teleworking couples construct and cultivate work-life wellness together?” The hope is that this study will provide a better understanding of work-life wellness in teleworking couples and inform policies, counseling techniques, and future research.

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Telework has become an increasingly accepted practice by employers across the world since the 1970s. In Canada, telework was growing before the COVID-19 pandemic, with around 5% of the workforce being fully remote. However, as of August 2021, 23% of employees worked most of their hours from home, and 80% of new teleworkers are hoping to work partially from home after the pandemic. A growing body of literature has begun to investigate the relationship dynamics of teleworking couples.

Building tension and pressure?

Teleworking can put pressure on couples by making the tension between work and home more visible and pushing partners into traditional gender roles. Time spent at work can moderate the impact of work on family outcomes, such as marital and family satisfaction.

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However, teleworking can also cause emotional and physical disturbance for a partner, as it can infringe on the private sphere.

Work-life wellness (WLW) encompasses two main ideas: (1) feeling well in a variety of domains and (2) feeling well about the intersection of domains. It is related to concepts such as work-life balance, work-life integration, quality of work life, and work-family conflict. Despite evidence suggesting that partners can influence each other’s work-life wellness, there is a lack of research on how they act together to pursue wellness.

Telework can have both positive and negative influences on work-life wellness. A lack of boundaries, high work demands, and overworking can decrease work-life wellness. However, teleworking can also eliminate commuting and increase personal time if proper boundaries are maintained. Additionally, teleworking can provide access to work for people with disabilities or child-care responsibilities.

Telework or remote work has become an increasingly accepted practice in Canada, and the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this trend. However, teleworking can put pressure on couples and their relationships, leading to changes in family dynamics.