This article appeared in the August 24, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Pandemic reset: Many parents prefer juggling work and child care at home

Courtesy of Wendy Wang
Wendy Wang is director of research at the Institute for Family Studies, which recently released a study about parents' preferences for child care.

Five years ago, Wendy Wang was at work when a child care center sent her a photo of her daughter taking her first step.

“I’m like, ‘Wow, I missed this,’” recalls Ms. Wang. “It was really hard.”

So she changed to a new job that allowed her to work from home with her child. Now, as head of research for the Institute for Family Studies, Ms. Wang has released a survey in which more than half of parents with children under age 18 say they prefer remote work – either most of the time or half of the time. Mothers and fathers believe that flexible work hours and shared responsibility are the optimal arrangements for child care. The respondents reported a pandemic shift, which the study calls a “homeward bound ... work-family reset.”

“[Parents] actually kind of figured out this new way of taking care of their kids,” says Ms. Wang, “I say ‘new,’ because previously they didn’t even think that could be an option.”

She adds the caveat that balancing work and child care during the pandemic isn’t easy, especially for those in blue-collar jobs that require on-site work. Meanwhile, it’s getting harder for companies to entice white-collar workers back to post-pandemic cubicle life. Pat Gelsinger, CEO of Intel Corp., told The Wall Street Journal that “there is no going back” from hybrid and remote work. 

As Ms. Wang can personally attest, employers may see a benefit when workers enjoy a better work-family balance.

“The productivity of my work has increased,” she says. “And I spend more time with my daughter.”

This article appeared in the August 24, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 08/24 edition
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