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Mothers of invention: How the experiences of women working from home during COVID-19 could reshape the domestic environment

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Thesis type
(Project) M.A.L.S.
Date created
Despite the desire of the postindustrial workforce, particularly women, for flexible work arrangements, only four percent of Canadian employees performed their job duties remotely - outside of the organization's central location - before the pandemic. However, this segment grew dramatically in March 2020 when COVID lockdowns forced office employees to work from home (WFH) on a scale previously unimagined. Because the recent merging of paid labour with the home has affected the genders unevenly, in this case study I focused on the WFH experiences of women like me, living in Metro Vancouver BC, with occupations that could be performed remotely during the pandemic. The study explored the material and behavioral challenges experienced by women working in the domestic environment, and the innovative modifications they implemented to overcome their difficulties. Using a mixed-methods approach, I collected data with an online survey, followed by semi-structured interviews. The results showed that many factors (some resulting from the pandemic) complicated women's WFH experiences, but almost every participant wanted to continue working remotely in some capacity. The research found that WFH is a viable labour model for women who want to combine paid and unpaid labour in what I have called the WFH nexus, within the dwelling. The study cited diverse examples of their innovations, undertaken in the home workspace to enable effective work performance. This examination of the domestic workspaces created to accommodate pandemic-induced WFH revealed new design considerations and solutions, with implications for the residential design industry although it is too early to predict their extent and longevity. As the postindustrial work environment evolves to include a larger segment of remote or home-based employees, the study's insights also have implications for organizations developing WFH best practices.
118 pages.
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Copyright is held by the author(s).
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Mezei, Kathy
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