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Working from home during Covid

Information sheet

Thank you for taking an interested in an exciting new joint project of Work Autonomy, Flexibility and Work-life Balance project, based at the University of Kent, and Equal Parenting project based at the University of Birmingham! (quick link to survey)

Study Purpose and Rationale

The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak a pandemic on March 11, 2020 and the UK government announced a comprehensive lockdown across the entire country on the 23rd March 2020, which limits all unnecessary travel and ask all non-essential workers to work from home where possible. These changes have had a dramatic impact on people’s lives, working patterns and family relationships. In this research we aim to understand how this pandemic, the lockdown and working from home has influenced a range of work-life issues and preferences and attitudes on flexible working for workers in the UK. This survey will inform UK government and company policies on flexible working.

Inclusion/Exclusion Criteria

To be eligible to participate in this research, participants must be at least 18 years old, reside in the United Kingdom, and in dependent employment (not self-employed). Individuals who do not meet all of the inclusion criteria stated above will not be eligible to participate in this study.

Participation Procedures and Duration

You will be asked to complete an online survey in Qualtrics (link below). This survey will take approximately 7 to 15 minutes to complete depending on your work patterns and family situations. The survey will focus on how your working patterns and (division of) housework (and childcare if applicable) have changed since the COVID-19 outbreak. You will also be asked about your employment, how you perceive your relationship with your spouse or partner if applicable, and your psychological well-being.
Remember your participation in this study is completely voluntary.

At the end of the survey, you will be asked to provide your email address if you would like to take part in a prize draw for a £50 Amazon vouchers. Also, if you would like to take part in a short interview with one of our team to allow us to get a greater in-depth knowledge of this issue. If you would like to take part, please include your email address.

You can also leave your email address on this form if you would like a copy of the final report based on this data.

Data Confidentiality or Anonymity

All data will remain confidential and any quotes or data used in final outputs will be anonymised.  Identifying information will only be collected in the form of email addresses if you choose to enter the prize draw or if you choose to provide email contact details in order to take part in an interview.

Storage of Data and Data Retention Period

The data will be stored on a password protected computer accessed only by the research team members. Future data sets may be generated without any personal or identifying information and deposited to the UK Data Archive[1] indefinitely to inform other researchers on future studies on working patterns and the division of labour within families.

Again your input in this survey will be of great benefit for us to understand how the lockdown and home working patterns have changed the behaviours, attitude and the preferences of workers to help inform government and company policies on these issues. We are working closely with several government bodies to ensure your opinions are heard by key policy makers.

Researcher Contact Information

This research project is a joint project by researchers based at the University of Kent and the University of Birmingham. It has gone through and has been approved by SRC Ethics Panel of the University of Kent School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research. For more information about your rights as a participant, please refer to the University of Kent’s privacy notice:

For more information about this research you can contact its Principal Investigator Dr. Heejung Chung.

To raise any concerns about the ethical nature of this project, please contact the Chair of the ethics committee Karen Jones:

Please use this link to continue on to the survey:

[1] The UK Data Archive is a national centre of expertise in data archiving in the United Kingdom. It houses the largest collection of digital data in the social sciences and humanities in the UK. It is certified under the Data Seal of Approval as a trusted digital repository. For more see:

CfP:Mental load, what is it, how do we measure it, and what are its outcomes?

CfP for the 2020 Work Families Researchers Network Conference session: Mental load, what is it, how do we measure it, and what are its outcomes?

Session organisers: Heejung Chung (University of Kent, UK), Anke Plagnol (City, University of London, UK), Shireen Kanji (Brunel University, UK)

In May 2017, the Guardian published a cartoon drawn by a French Cartoonist, Emma on the concept of couples’ division of the mental load. It struck a chord with the public, shared more than half a million times and started a debate on the inequality between genders in the domestic work of household management which has been largely unmeasured (Daminger, 2019). It has become especially important to measure and thus make visible this load as an aspect of domestic labour in light of the narrowing of the gap in the amount of time men and women spend on more routinely measured aspects of domestic labour such as cooking, laundry and shopping.  Despite the reduced gap in couples’ division of unpaid labour and men’s interest in being more involved in childcare-related domestic labour (Working Families, 2017), many believe that household responsibilities continue to lie with the mother, grounded in gender essentialist attitudes towards women’s nurturing roles (Scarborough et al., 2018). This responsibility in many cases relates to who manages who does what and when. Such cognitive/mental workload is important to observe, given that in addition to actual physical workload, time pressure, one aspect of the mental load, is a crucial determinant of mothers’ mental stress levels (Ruppanner et al., 2018). Furthermore, to enable gender parity in the workplace, gender equality in the household is crucial and needs to include the mental/cognitive load in addition to other forms of unpaid labour division between couples. It is possible that a high mental/cognitive load resulting from household obligations distracts from paid work and thus may hinder women’s career prospects.

This session invites papers that examine the mental load from various perspectives.

Questions can include

  • What types of mental load are out there – are there more “feminine” vs “masculine” tasks?
  • How can we measure the mental load empirically, can we develop a concrete measure that can be used across countries, life cycles, and family types?
  • What are the determinants of who does which type of mental labour?
  • What are the outcomes of the unequal division of mental load –for women’s labour market outcomes, relationship quality/stability, and well-being outcomes for parents/children?

We invite qualitative quantitative, and theoretical approaches that examine these and related questions around the issue of mental load.


Please send a short abstract (250 words) of your paper to Heejung Chung by the 16th of October WEDNESDAY

We will notify you of the selection by the 21st of October – with the final submission of the panel by the 1st of November.

More about the WFRN conference 2020 – in New York City, US – can be found here: