A Relational Framework for Work-Life Dynamics during the Covid-19 Pandemic


  • Dr. Rafia Faiz University Canada West
  • Dr. Jason Walker


Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Work-Life Balance, Higher Education, Coronavirus Pandemic


Extensive research has emerged on prevalence, causes, consequences and strategies for coping with work-life balance, work-life conflict and work-life enrichment for academics; where work-life balance is the state of equilibrium in performing work and family roles, work-life conflict is the inter-role conflict in simultaneously fulfilling work and family responsibilities, and work-life enrichment refers to the benefits and positive experiences gained by involvement in both work and family domains. However, empirical research on the evolution of these work-life dynamics during the COVID-19 pandemic remains scant. The aim of this study is to understand lived experiences of academics with respect to work-life interface during the COVID-19 pandemic. Empirical data for this study was acquired through qualitative reflections of six academics in higher education in British Columbia, of which three are men and three women; two are first generation immigrants while four are local Canadians; three are single parents while three are dual-earner couples. Purposive and snowball sampling techniques were endorsed to recruit participants for the study from the authors’ social networks. Reflective data was collected using structured written and oral interviews and in line with interpretative phenomenology; and thematically analysed to identify, analyse and interpret meaningful patterns (commonalities and/or contrasts) in the acquired qualitative data. Preliminary findings show wide prevalence of work-life conflict among academics. Work borders remain relatively impermeable despite virtual spaces, and working from home unremittingly blurs the physical and psychological boundaries between work and home domains. Moreover, experiences of work-life interface are differentially skewed for academics depending on the interplay between individuals’ ease of technology adoption, employment status (full-time or part-time), support network and family structure. In particular, immigrant single parents of young children seem to have exacerbated experiences of struggling to maintain work-life balance in the pandemic. Finally, in the effort to provide seamless online teaching, research activities have taken a backseat during the pandemic, raising questions over ethical performance reviews of academics. This study calls for revisiting work-life balance policies and programs in higher education industry that pay attention to inconsistencies in domain structures, mechanisms and domain members, as well as reassessment of performance evaluations of the faculty.

Author Biographies

Dr. Rafia Faiz, University Canada West

Associate Professor

Dr. Jason Walker

Associate Professor and Senate Vice-Chair