The work of the home has a big impact on our personal and professional wellbeing
Accompanied by a group of experts, we had an enjoyable and richly nuanced conversation in which we concluded that housework may not get the best press, but as a society, we have an obligation to give it the value it deserves because of the great impact it has on our personal development.
As family therapist José Miguel Cubillo pointed out, in most households around the world, housework has to be done and someone has to do it. “The home is a source of rest, rest is in order and order comes through small acts of love, of dedication. An act of love can be folding a towel or putting a comb in a drawer.” The point is that these small gestures generate a feeling of gratitude towards those who make them. And gratitude is the door to happiness.
In this sense, Begoña Pérez, known as La Ordenatriz on social networks and who has millions of followers, acknowledged that “nowadays we prepare ourselves a lot for the professional world and we denigrate home management because we think it is easy but suddenly we discover that it is not”. She added that, since practically 100% of women work outside the domestic sphere, the transmission of this management, which used to take place at home, has been lost. It is a generational issue and, moreover, socially, housework is not valued, it is valued that it is done, but the effort of those who do it is not recognised.
According to the HRF/ICWF study, companies are the first to benefit from the fact that homes are a source of stability; a rested employee is an engaged employee. Experts recommend that companies develop policies that favour work-life balance – to be able to disconnect and reconnect with the workplace after being refreshed by home life. In this regard, the Director of Innovation at Mutua Madrileña and former head of cities at Ferrovial, Carmen del Campo, emphasised the need for employees to feel linked to the project of the company where they work, because in this way the company can take into account the priorities of its employees and meet them. In the case of Ferrovial, a parents’ school was created to teach how to manage a home, which provided tools for the future. As an initiative it brought workers together into an environment in which everyone has room for improvement. Mutua Madrileña, it is a company that gives a lot of space to the family environment and organises cultural and volunteer activities for families that encourage responsible parenthood. This provision helps to link the employee to the company, offering not only professional but also personal growth. Something which is difficult to include in a salary package but has incalculable value.
Naturally, we also discussed the impact of technology and its influence on family life. In our research, data revealed that phubbing could hinder family relationships. Journalist and director of Technology at Alabra María Zabala explained that while that technology, can exacerbate the problems we encounter on a day-to-day basis, it is not to blame. We are experiencing so many changes across, social, digital, relational, communicative, work-related spheres, and we have to take responsibility for how we respond, but it is society as a whole, the developers and also legislators who must ask themselves what these advances are for.. Education in digital terms is played out at home and conversations at home with our partners and our children should lead us to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong in this fast-moving world.
María Zabala added that technology brings complications, but also opportunities that we should not give up due to lack of information. She encouraged us: Let’s not only look at the bad. Let’s learn to praise the good and applaud the good decisions, not just point out the mistakes.
There was so much more that was shared in this excellent session but I shall close with Begoña Pérez’s secret for understanding and valuing the significant effort involved in building and caring for a home, on which our happiness depends: mental and spiritual order. What is it our heart asks of us? To take care of home from the inside of ourselves because it is that from which we can make the most of our home for others too.