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    The work–family balance of British working women during the COVID-19 pandemic

    Adisa, Toyin Ajibade, Aiyenitaju, Opeoluwa ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9886-4979 and Adekoya, Olatunji David (2021) The work–family balance of British working women during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Work-Applied Management, 13 (2). pp. 241-260. ISSN 2205-2062

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    Purpose The COVID-19 pandemic has affected women in unique gender-specific ways, particularly their traditional status as home managers. This study aims to draw on the role theory to examine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women's work–family balance during the lockdown. Design/methodology/approach The current COVID-19 pandemic, which has altered the ways in which we live and work, requires specific methodological tools to be understood. The authors, therefore, opted for an interpretive–constructivist and constructivist–phenomenologist approach. The dataset, thus, comprises of semi-structured interviews with 26 working women in the UK. Findings The findings illustrate how the COVID-19 lockdown has intensified British women's domestic workload and has, thus, caused unbridled role conflict, which has further been exacerbated by structural and interactional roles undertaken by women, especially during the lockdown. Remote working has contributed to women's role congestion and role conflict and poses severe challenges to role differentiation. Furthermore, we found that the lockdown has facilitated the rediscovery of family values and closeness, which is connected to the decline in juvenile delinquency and low crime rate that has resulted from the lockdown. Originality/value Through the lens of the role theory, this study concludes that the cohabitation of work and family duties within the domestic space undermines the ability to achieve work–family balance and role differentiation due to the occurrence of inter-role conflicts. This study enriches our understanding of the effect of remote working on female employees' work–family balance during the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.

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