Living to Work (from Home): Overwork, Remote Work, and Gendered Dual Devotion to Work and Family
Contemporary North American work culture is characterized by experts as one of overwork. Throughout much of the previous century, many parents devoted themselves either to their careers, or to their families. These “competing devotions” served as a cultural model for making sense of the world and alleviated the tension between overwork and family life. Data from interviews with 84 IT workers are used to examine whether devotion to work and family is still experienced as oppositional for working parents. I find that interviewees report feeling devoted both to their families and their careers, which I refer to as dual devotion. Such espousals of dual devotion are facilitated by the use of flexible work policies—remote work and flextime—which enable those with dual devotions to accomplish work–life integration. However, whereas men perceive remote work as allowing them to dedicate more time to childcare, women perceive it as allowing them to dedicate more time to work. These findings advance our understanding of the relationship between gender inequality and the experiential dimensions of work and family time: the practices that enable dual devotions, in particular remote work, help parents maintain an orientation to time that makes overwork more palatable. In either case, workplaces win since women are working long hours and men are not sacrificing paid work hours to take on more childcare or housework.