Women take on most 'office housework'

While unpaid domestic labor is often discussed, the unpaid office work, or "office housework," goes unnoticed. Similarly, though, women pick up most of the slack.

With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing most people to retreat indoors, people became hyper-aware of the burdens of labor around the home, which primarily fall on women. A UN Women report found that women still shoulder the majority of the load. 

Within the office, there too are chores, and similar to the home, women complete most of these unpaid tasks. These tasks can include mentoring younger colleagues, organizing office parties and birthday cards, and resolving conflicts. Office housework is important to the functioning of a healthy work environment but often isn't included in formal performance reviews. A study found that women are more likely to volunteer for these so-called "non-promotable" tasks than men. In addition to that, "both male and female managers were more likely to ask a woman to volunteer than a man," Linda Babcock, PhD, an author of the study, told The New York Times

To combat this disparity, Dr. Babcock told the FT she recommends two solutions: "You can either take the stance that this work needs to be rewarded and recognised or [it needs to be] reallocated." Managers should be aware of who on their teams picks up the majority of these tasks to make a conscious effort to redistribute them equitably.

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