Maria Daskalaki is Professor of HRM & Organization Studies and Head of the Department of HRM/OB, Southampton Business School. This talk is based on a paper that focuses on struggles over work-from-home (wfh) & social reproduction during the pandemic.
The gendered politics surrounding home-based work has already been a site of inquiry for scholars in the past. The pandemic-related research published so far has offered mixed results: A recent article in HBR suggested that the current crisis has the potential for a substantial increase in more equal patterns of participation in childcare, which will enable women to preserve, if not improve, their position in the labour market. Nevertheless, a United Nations’ report on the first 100 days of the pandemic suggested that based on the persistent effects of other past shocks to the household distribution of labour (for example the global financial crisis), gender injustices that existed before the pandemic will be intensified. Drawing on recent engagements with social reproduction theory in the ‘shadow of neoliberalism’, this paper proposes that, under certain conditions, wfh has the potential to challenge the separation of productive and reproductive spheres, constitute a distinctive context for investigating alternative conceptualisations of organising (non-) working lives, and contribute towards fair, inclusive and sustainable post-pandemic work futures.