Sustained knowledge work and thinking time amongst academics: gender and working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic

David Peetz, Marian Baird, Rupa Banerjee, Tim Bartkiw, Shelagh Campbell, Sara Charlesworth, Amanda Coles, Rae Cooper, Jason Foster, Natalie Galea, Barbara de la Harpe, Catherine Leighton, Bernadette Lynch, Kelly Pike, Amanda Pyman, Ioana Ramia, Susan Ressia, Mojan Naisani Samani, Kim Southey, Glenda StrachanMarch To, Carolyn Troup, Scott Walsworth, Shalene Werth, Johanna Weststar

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a migration of workforces to work from home. A key issue for academics was the implications for the ability to carve out ‘thinking time’ to engage in what we term sustained knowledge work, the type of work essential for producing research. We administered an employee survey to academics from seven Australian and seven Canadian Universities, receiving over 3000 responses. We report on both quantitative and qualitative findings from the survey, with a particular emphasis on the latter. The two countries displayed broadly similar patterns in responses, but these patterns were gendered in specific ways. We distinguished between episodic and sustained knowledge work and found the shift of the location for sustained knowledge work from the workplace to the home affected academics unevenly, with disproportionate negative impacts on women. There are implications for all knowledge workers: while gendered, domestic norms continue to exist, the sustained knowledge work that is critical to career advancement can become especially problematic for women knowledge workers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-92
Number of pages21
JournalLabour & Industry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Knowledge work
  • gender
  • remote working
  • universities
  • working from home


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