Commentary: 'Zigzag working' is the new pandemic reality for parents and employers

AUCKLAND: All parents work. The difference lies in the breakdown between their paid and unpaid workloads.

That equation is influenced by many things, including education, qualifications, age, ethnicity, financial status, number and age of dependants, gendered and societal expectations, and personal choice.

But during COVID-19 lockdowns, many working parents have had to conduct their paid work, usually done in the workplace, at home.

Personally, professionally and geographically, this is new territory – for working parents, their loved ones and their employers.

It is also largely uncharted territory for researchers.

Previous academic studies of work-life integration have largely treated home and work as separate domains, with clearly demarcated tasks performed in distinct locations and at different times.

Additionally, past research into balancing those roles and working flexibly (including from home) has found parents mainly worked while children were at school or day care, or that they weren’t in full-time paid work.


Lockdowns have changed that, requiring many parents to work full-time while simultaneously schooling and caring for their children.


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