A new survey finds that more than half of parents with young children are working late, leading to a greater need for flexible working hours. 

GlobalWebIndex (GWI), a market research company, has found that over half of parents (54 per cent)* with young children feel more stretched at work, leading to frequently working late.

Almost six in 10 working parents (57 per cent)* stated that they are now working overtime at least once a week – a testament to the difficulties of juggling work, looking after and potentially homeschooling children as well as fulfilling home duties.

Specifically, almost a quarter of respondents (22 per cent)** admitted that they were struggling with managing their children while working from home. This number rose for respondents in the UK with almost three in 10 (27 per cent) of working parents struggling with this.

This problem is likely to be on more parents’ radar following the UK’s implementation of school closures and seeing a return to learning from home for children.

However, this research worryingly revealed that just under a third of working parents in the UK who have young children (32 per cent)* are broadly permitted to have flexible working hours.

This means that two-thirds of parents are being forced to work and look after their children simultaneously, leading to a potential rise in stress levels and burnout.

Viktoriya Trifonova, Operations and Insights Manager at GWI, said:

With 186 million children out of school today across 26 closed countries, home-schooling has become most parents’ second full-time job.

It’s clear that the benefits of home working largely outweigh the challenges they experience. Parents with young children (61 per cent), and especially mums (64 per cent), are the most likely group of professionals to say that spending more time with family is the biggest advantage of remote working.

This doesn’t mean they don’t need more support though. Our ongoing GWI Work research shows that parents with young children are more likely than the average professional to work late and work overtime at least once a week. The lack of any real change by employers in flexible working is likely a key factor here. While remote working is up, flexible working (for example, empowering workers to choose when they start and end their day) has only seen a negligible increase since Q1 2019.

Ms. Trifonova went on to explain:

Businesses embraced working from home during the pandemic for lack of any clear alternative; but the fact that the core hours of 9-5 hasn’t shifted much is a significant issue for parents who need to accommodate childcare alongside work.

In work-from-home terms, presenteeism doesn’t necessarily translate into productivity, and for parents it might mean an increased risk of burnout. Instead of focusing on hours worked and physical presence, companies need to look at results achieved. By doing this they’ll be able to retain the caregivers among their staff throughout 2021.

*This research from GWI combines two sets of data. Data marked with one asterisk indicates that insights were based on responses from 17,794 working professionals, across 10 countries, aged 18-64 (3,268 UK workers). Of which, 5,152 are parents with young children (805 in the UK). Data with two asterisks shows that the insights are based on responses from 544 working professionals (152 in the UK) with young children, across 8 countries, aged 18-64.





Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.