Women’s lived experiences of work from home in India during Covid-19: An interpretative phenomenological analysis


The outbreak of Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on every aspect of our lives. It led to numerous challenges due to its suddenness, and the consequent sudden influx of many young women professionals to their parents’ houses, leading to re-negotiation of boundaries. The present study examines women’s unique experiences through detailed idiographic and in-depth analysis as they navigated the multifaceted journey of working from home during Covid-19. Interpretative phenomenological analysis is implemented as a method of data collection, and interpretation. The dataset comprises semi-structured interviews with ten young single professional Indian women working in the investment banking sector. Data analysis yielded two overarching themes: Encountering difficulties in transitioning from the physical mode of working to work from home (WFH) resulting in frustration, anger, feeling overburdened etc., and Covid-19 pandemic, health, and well-being. Results illustrated that the sudden transition to WFH intensified women’s workload, causing unbridled role-conflict and boundary-conflict, which contributed to work-life imbalance, a sedentary lifestyle, and led to a state of powerlessness, hopelessness, and anxiety about the future. By focusing on the lived experiences of young female Indian professionals during the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, the present study contributed significantly to the emerging literature on WFH.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i24212113v9i1p45

Keywords: Work from home; Mental health; Work-life imbalance; Covid-19; Interpretative Phenomenological analysis


Adisa, T. A., Aiyenitaju, O., & Adekoya, O. D. (2021). The work–family balance of British working women during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Work-Applied Management, 13(2), 241–260. https://doi.org/10.1108/JWAM-07-2020-0036

Anderson, D., & Kelliher, C. (2020). Enforced remote working and the work-life interface during lockdown. Gender in Management, 35(7/8), 677-683. https://doi.org/10.1108/GM-07-2020-0224

Ashforth, B. E., Kreiner, G. E., & Fugate, M. (2000). All in a day's work: Boundaries and micro role transitions. Academy of Management review, 25(3), 472-491. https://doi.org/10.5465/amr.2000.3363315

Babbar, K., Sharma, S., & Chetri, D. (2021). Work from or work for home? The dual burden on women during the pandemic. https://livewire.thewire.in/gender-and-sexuality/work-from-or-work-for-home-dual-burden-on-women-during-the-pandemic/

Basyouni, S., & El Keshky, M. (2021). Job insecurity, work-related flow, and financial anxiety in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, 632265. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.632265

Bathini, D. R., & Kandathil, G. M. (2020). Bother me only if the client complains: control and resistance in home-based telework in India. Employee Relations: The International Journal, 42(1), 90-106. https://doi.org/10.1108/ER-09-2018-0241

Bem, S. L. (1993). The lenses of gender. Yale University Press.

Benedict, C., Brandão, L. E. M., Merikanto, I., Partinen, M., Bjorvatn, B., & Cedernaes, J. (2021). Meal and sleep timing before and during the COVID-19 pandemic: A cross-sectional anonymous survey study from Sweden. Clocks & sleep, 3(2), 251-258. https://doi.org/10.3390/ clockssleep3020015

Bhumika. (2020). Challenges for work-life balance during COVID-19 induced nationwide lockdown: Exploring gender difference in emotional exhaustion in the Indian setting. Gender in Management, 35(7/8), 705-718. https://doi.org/10.1108/GM-06-2020-0163

Blustein, D. L., & Guarino, P. A. (2020). Work and unemployment in the time of COVID-19: The existential experience of loss and fear. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 60(5), 702-709. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022167820934229

Burnatowska, E., Surma, S., & Olszanecka-Glinianowicz, M. (2022). Relationship between mental health and emotional eating during the COVID-19 pandemic: A systematic review. Nutrients, 14(19), 3989. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14193989

Butler, P. (2020, October 18). “Boomerang” trend of young adults living with parents is rising – study. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/oct/18/boomerang-trend-of-young-adults-living-with-parents-is-rising-study

Carnevale, J. B., & Hatak, I. (2020). Employee adjustment and well-being in the era of COVID-19: Implications for human resource management. Journal of Business Research, 116(1), 183-187. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2020.05.037

Chandler, S. (2022). Why are so few women in Finance? It’s complicated. Investopedia. https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/092315/why-are-so-few-women-finance-its-complicated.asp

Chauhan P. (2021). Gendering COVID-19: Impact of the pandemic on women's burden of unpaid work in India. Gender Issues, 38(4), 395–419. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12147-020-09269-w

Chauhan, P. (2022). “I have no room of my own”: COVID-19 pandemic and work-from-home through a gender lens. Gender Issues, 1-27. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12147-022-09302-0

Desilver, D. (2020). Working from home was a luxury for the relatively affluent before coronavirus - not anymore. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/03/working-from-home-coronavirus-workers-future-of-work/

Dogra, P., & Kaushal, A. (2022). Underlying the triple burden effects on women educationists due to COVID-19. Education and Information Technologies, 27(1), 209–228. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10639-021-10645-6

Eddleston, K. A., & Mulki, J. (2017). Toward understanding remote workers’ management of work–family boundaries: The complexity of workplace embeddedness. Group & Organization Management, 42(3), 346-387. https://doi.org/10.1177/1059601115619548

Fisher, J., Languilaire, J. C., Lawthom, R., Nieuwenhuis, R., Petts, R. J., Runswick-Cole, K., & Yerkes, M. A. (2020). Community, work and family in times of COVID-19. Community, Work and Family, 23(3), 247-252.https://doi.org/10.1080/13668803.2020.1756568

Fonner, K. L., & Stache, L. C. (2012). All in a day's work, at home: Teleworkers’ management of micro role transitions and the work–home boundary. New Technology, Work and Employment, 27(3), 242-257. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-005X.2012.00290.x

Gajendran, R. S., & Harrison, D. A. (2007). The good, the bad, and the unknown about telecommuting: Meta-analysis of psychological mediators and individual consequences. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92(6), 1524-1541. https://doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.92.6.1524

Galanti, T., Guidetti, G., Mazzei, E., Zappalà, S., & Toscano, F. (2021). Work from home during the COVID-19 outbreak: The impact on employees’ remote work productivity, engagement, and stress. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 63(7), e426. https://doi.org/10.1097/JOM.0000000000002236

Gong, B., & Sims, R. L. (2023). Psychological contract breach during the pandemic: How an abrupt transition to a work from home schedule impacted the employment relationship. Journal of Business Research, 154, 113259. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2022.08.023

Harpaz, I. (2002). Advantages and disadvantages of telecommuting for the individual, organization and society. Work Study, 51(2), 74-80. https://doi.org/10.1108/00438020210418791

Haun, V. C., Remmel, C., & Haun, S. (2022). Boundary management and recovery when working from home: The moderating roles of segmentation preference and availability demands. German Journal of Human Resource Management, 36(3), 270-299. https://doi.org/10.1177/23970022221079048

Jaim, J. (2021). Exist or exit? Women business‐owners in Bangladesh during COVID‐19. Gender, Work & Organization, 28(1),209-226. https://doi.org/10.1111/gwao.12546

Jameel, S. (2022). SARS-2, Monekeypox, Ebola, Marsburg: Seven Months into 2022, What’s Happening? https://science.thewire.in/health/covid-monkeypox-ebola-marburg-2022/

Johnson, L. C., Andrey, J., & Shaw, S. M. (2007). Mr. Dithers comes to dinner: Telework and the merging of women's work and home domains in Canada. Gender, Place & Culture, 14(2), 141-161. https://doi.org/10.1080/09663690701213701

Kelly, E.L., & Moen, P. (2007). Rethinking the clockwork of work: Why schedule control may pay off at work and at home. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 9(4), 487-506. https://doi.org/10.1177/1523422307305489

Kerman, K., Korunka, C., & Tement, S. (2022). Work and home boundary violations during the COVID‐19 pandemic: The role of segmentation preferences and unfinished tasks. Applied Psychology, 71(3), 784-806. https://doi.org/10.1111/apps.12335

Kreiner, G.E., Hollensbe, E.C., & Sheep, M.L. (2009). Balancing borders and bridges: Negotiating the work-home interface via boundary work tactics. Academy of Management Journal, 52(4), 704-730. https://doi.org/10.5465/amj.2009.43669916

Liu, J., Dalton, A. N., & Lee, J. (2021). The “Self” under COVID-19: Social role disruptions, self-authenticity and present-focused coping. PloS one, 16(9), e0256939. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0256939

Mark, G., Kun, A.L., Rintel, S., & Sellen, A. (2022). Introduction to this special issue: the future of remote work: responses to the pandemic. Human–Computer Interaction, 1-7. https://doi.org/10.1080/07370024.2022.2038170

McLaren, H.J., Wong, K.R., Nguyen, K.N., & Mahamadachchi, K.N.D. (2020). Covid-19 and women’s triple burden: Vignettes from Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Vietnam and Australia. Social Sciences, MDPI AG, 9(5) 87. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci9050087

Molina, J.A. (2021). The work–family conflict: Evidence from the recent decade and lines of future research. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 42(1), 4-10. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10834-020-09700-0

Mukherjee, S., & Narang, D. (2022). Digital economy and work-from-home: The rise of home offices amidst the COVID-19 outbreak in India. Journal of the Knowledge Economy, 1-22. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13132-022-00896-0

OECD (2020). Employment: Time spent in paid and unpaid work, by sex. https://stats.oecd.org/index.aspx?queryid=54757.

Orr, K., Ta, Z., Shoaf, K., Halliday, T. M., Tobin, S., & Baron, K. G. (2022). Sleep, diet, physical activity, and stress during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A qualitative analysis. Behavioral Sciences, 12(3), 66. https://doi.org/10.3390/bs12030066

Park, S., Jeong, S., & Chai, D. S. (2021). Remote e-workers’ psychological well-being and career development in the era of COVID-19: Challenges, success factors, and the roles of HRD professionals. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 23(3), 222-236. https://doi.org/10.1177/15234223211017849

Pietkiewicz, I., & Smith, J. A. (2014). A practical guide to using interpretative phenomenological analysis in qualitative research psychology. Psychological Journal, 20(1), 7-14. https://doi.org/10.14691/CPPJ.20.1.7

Rana, I. A., Bhatti, S. S., Aslam, A. B., Jamshed, A., Ahmad, J., & Shah, A. A. (2021). COVID-19 risk perception and coping mechanisms: Does gender make a difference?. International journal of disaster risk reduction 55, 102096. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijdrr.2021.102096

Slutsky, J., Chin, B., Raye, J., & Creswell, J. D. (2019). Mindfulness training improves employee well-being: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 24(1), 139–149. https://doi.org/10.1037/ocp0000132

Smith, J. A., Flowers, P., & Larkin, M. (2009). Interpretative phenomenological analysis: Theory, method and research. Sage.

Teodorovicz, T., Sadun, R., Kun, A. L., & Shaer, O. (2021). Working from home during COVID19: Evidence from time-use studies. Harvard Business School, Working Paper 21-094. https://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Pages/item.aspx?num=59926

Tremblay, D. (2002). Balancing work and family with telework? Organizational issues and challenges for women and managers. Women in Management Review, 17(3/4), 157-170. https://doi.org/10.1108/09649420210425309

Tu, Y., Li, D., & Wang, H. J. (2021). COVID-19-induced layoff, survivors’ COVID-19-related stress and performance in hospitality industry: The moderating role of social support. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 95, 102912. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhm.2021.102912

Turner, R. H. (2001). Role theory. In H. Turner (Ed.), Handbook of sociological theory (pp. 233-254). Springer.

Tušl, M., Brauchli, R., Kerksieck, P., & Bauer, G. F. (2021). Impact of the COVID-19 crisis on work and private life, mental well-being and self-rated health in German and Swiss employees: A cross-sectional online survey. BMC Public Health, 21(1), 1-15. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-021-10788-8

Uddin, M. (2021). Addressing work‐life balance challenges of working women during COVID‐19 in Bangladesh. International Social Science Journal, 71(239-240), 7-20. https://doi.org/10.1111/issj.12267

Usman, M., Cheng, J., Ghani, U., Gul, H., & Shah, W. U. (2021). Social support and perceived uncertainties during COVID-19: Consequences for employees’ wellbeing. Current Psychology, 1-12. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-021-02293-3

Vyas, L., & Butakhieo, N. (2021). The impact of working from home during COVID-19 on work and life domains: an exploratory study on Hong Kong. Policy Design and Practice, 4(1), 59-76. https://doi.org/10.1080/25741292.2020.1863560

Vyas, N. (2021). Undermining the role of women in the economy: The interplay between paid work and unpaid care work in India. Industrial Law Journal. https://doi.org/10.1093/indlaw/dwab035

Wang, B., Liu, Y., Qian, J., & Parker, S. K. (2021). Achieving effective remote working during the COVID‐19 pandemic: A work design perspective. Applied Psychology, 70(1), 16-59. https://doi.org/10.1111/apps.12290

Warren, T. (2021). Work–life balance and gig work: ‘Where are we now’ and ‘where to next’ with the work–life balance agenda? Journal of Industrial Relations, 63(4), 522–545. https://doi.org/10.1177/00221856211007161

Xiao, Y., Becerik-Gerber, B., Lucas, G., & Roll, S. C. (2021). Impacts of working from home during COVID-19 pandemic on physical and mental well-being of office workstation users. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 63(3), 181.https://doi.org/10.1097/JOM.0000000000002097

Zak, P. J. (2017). The neuroscience of trust. Harvard Business Review, 95(1), 84-90. https://hbr.org/2017/01/the-neuroscience-of-trust

Zhang, S., Moeckel, R., Moreno, A. T., Shuai, B., & Gao, J. (2020). A work-life conflict perspective on telework. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, 141, 51-68. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tra.2020.09.007

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribuzione - Non commerciale - Non opere derivate 3.0 Italia License.