Working mothers of Malaysia: work-family balance of working mothers in Malaysia and the effect of remote work on productivity, satisfaction and wellbeing

Hassan, Razan (2022) Working mothers of Malaysia: work-family balance of working mothers in Malaysia and the effect of remote work on productivity, satisfaction and wellbeing. [Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)]

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The COVID-19 pandemic brought about a dynamic change where organizations and employees shifted overnight to working remotely, in light of country level lockdowns to curb infections. In Malaysia, females constitute 47% of the population and comprise 55.3% of the labour workforce. Arrangements for childcare, dependent care and home management have typically been shouldered by women. This is backed by the traditional and religious roles society impose on women, and the assumption that she is responsible for all household domestic roles.

In light of the shift to remote working (work from home), and daycares/schools closing, the delicate balance and management of both work and home was challenged. This research investigated working women’s work-family balance (WFB) in 2021, where mandated work from home plunged personal and work life into the same sphere, introducing an all-new set of trials; as organizations continued to expect optimum work productivity, satisfaction and well-being from working mothers.


Participants were two hundred (N=200) Malaysian working women with at least one child/dependent from the Klang Valley area (greater KL region). There was a wide range of work industries represented, ethnic diversity (45.5% Malays, 37.5% Chinese, 17% Indians), and different educational and economic backgrounds.

Starting with several established measures, an online survey was developed and shared through various social platforms targeting the desired audience. The goal was to explore the impact of work-family balance (WFB), work-family conflict (WFC), telework and home management on working mothers’ job satisfaction, perceived work productivity and wellbeing.

Survey items from the last four constructs were subjected to systematic factor analysis, a useful data reduction tool. The resulting subscales include: telework factors affecting work, telework factors affecting relationships, 5 Home management subscales (time spent on home and household duties, childcare, dependent care, view on current arrangement and positive financial outlook); these were later examined as independent variables. And the dependent variables of interest were: job demands and work hours, job dissatisfaction, pre-pandemic productivity, and productivity during pandemic.


Were there differences in women’s WFB, WFC, Productivity and Job satisfaction based on their socio-economic backgrounds?

ANOVA results showed the following; women in lower (B40) income families (M = 2.85, SD = 0.837), F (4,195) = 0.957, p = 0.015 reported better WFB than those in middle income (M40 lower) families (M = 2.78, SD = 0.596) F (4,195) = 0.957, p=0.015. At the same time, there was higher WFC for women in middle income (M40 lower) families (M = 2.97, SD = 0.584) F(4,195)=1.58, p=0.099 than those women in higher income (T20) families (M = 2.66, SD = 0.718) F(4,195)=1.58, p=0.099. The WFC results were marginally significant.

T-tests revealed that women who work part-time reported less WFC (M = 2.65, SD = 0.817), t (198) = -1.3, p=0.084 than full-timers (M = 2.85, SD = 0.65) t (198) =-1.3, p = 0.085. Interestingly, part-times (M = 3.0, SD = 0.603), t (198) = 1.01, p = 0.056 experienced higher productivity during pandemic compared to full-timers (M = 2.8, SD = 0.731) t (198) = 1.01, p = 0.056. Both results were marginally significant. Both these results were marginally significant.

When asked about their prior to the pandemic, women in middle income (M40 higher) families (M = 3.15, SD = 0.615), F (4,195) = 1.103, p=0.054 revealed worse pre-pandemic productivity than those in lower income (B40) families (M = 3.38, SD = 0.443), F (4,195) = 1.103, p = 0.054. Additionally, those in middle income (M40 higher) families (M = 2.12, SD = 0.752) F (4,195) = 1.208, p=0.099 reported better overall job satisfaction than respondents in high income (T20) families (M = 1.88, SD = 0.822), F (4,195) = 1.208, p=0.099.

B. What predicts job satisfaction (JDWH and JD), productivity, and well being?

In order to better understand the predictors of JS, P, and WB, three multiple regression analysis were conducted. Results from the first DV revealed that work family balance (WFB) was significantly and negatively associated (β= -0.241, p<0.001) with Job demands and work hours. While having higher dependent care responsibilities (β= 0.164, p<0.025), was significantly and positively associated. Overall the variance explained was 20% (R²=0.203, F (4,195)= 12.424, p<.000).

Job dissatisfaction was the second job satisfaction subscale and DV examined. Higher work-family conflict (WFC) (β= 0.422, p<0.000), telework factors affecting relationships (β= 0.253, p<0.001), more childcare (β= 0.118, p<0.061) and having considered part-time work or view on current work arrangements (β= 0.373, p<0.000) were positively associated and reported higher Job dissatisfaction. On the other hand, women with better work-family balance (WFB) (β= -0.268, p<0.000) and positive financial outlook (β= -0.280, p<0.000), reported significantly less Job dissatisfaction. Overall, the variance explained was 58.7% (R²=0.587, F (4,195) = 69.1, p<.000).

Pre-pandemic productivity the first self-reported productivity subscale. Women with better work family balance (WFB) (β= 0.202, p<0.009), work-family conflict (WFC) (β= 0.242, p<0.012) reported significantly better productivity. The variance explained was 11.2% with R² of 0.112, F (4,195) = 6.130, p < .000). Whereas time spent on home and household duties (β= 0.220, p<0.003) was positively associated with productivity. Having a positive financial outlook (β= -0.168, p<0.017) is negatively associated with productivity. Overall the variance explained 8.9% (R²=0.089, F (4,195) = 3.792, p<.000).

Productivity during pandemic was examined next. Women reporting high work-family balance (WFB) (β= 0.570, p<0.000) had significantly higher Job productivity, and R² was 0.340, F (4,195) = 25.089, p<.000. Hierarchical regression was conducted next where Home management factors were examined. Women with a positive financial outlook (β= 0.352, p<0.000) had significantly higher job productivity during the pandemic, while childcare responsibilities (β= -0.255, p<0.000) was inversely correlated. An additional 18.3% of variance was explained (R²=0.183, F (4,195) = 8.709, p<.000).

In the final regression analysis, the effect of work-family balance (WFB) and work-family conflict (WFC) were examined. Good WFB (β= 0.407, p<0.000) was strongly and positively associated with Wellbeing. Again, women reported higher WFC (β= -0.315, p<0.000) had significantly lower Wellbeing. The variance explained was 38.7% (R²=0.387, F (4,195) = 41.331, p<.000).


Job satisfaction was the first dependent variable measured, through which was discovered that although work and family domains are inseparable and often have spillover effects, work family balance and work family conflict are determined to be strong predictors of a working mothers stability and satisfaction in her career. It is analyzed through this paper that challenges remote work bring about make segregating the two domains the more difficult, coupled with lack of communication with colleagues, supervisors and shortage of inspirational atmosphere. These factors all appear to have great repercussions on job satisfaction. In addition, increased financial worry accompanied by thoughts of switching to part-time as they felt they needed more assistance around the house are discovered throughout this research paper.

Perceived work productivity is the second dependent variable measured, that revealed additional meaningful contributions to literature. It was seen from this study that prior to the pandemic, future financial concerns seemed to motivate more productivity out of women, those lacking positive financial prospects reported greater job dissatisfaction. Prior to the pandemic when the two spheres of work and family were separate, women had home and household duties managed well. In fact, these were positively associated with pre-pandemic productivity.

Things became very different in the pandemic. Women working full-time seemed to find working from home more challenging than those working part time; hence the call to organizations to implement more flexible work schedules as this can ease the demands of work family conflicts on mothers.

When the responsibility of the home and family contentment is shouldered mostly by the mother with little to no help from surrounding support systems. The effects on the psychical and psychological aspects of her current wellbeing suffer tremendously. Without doubt this will ripple into other roles expected of her; wife, mother and employee. Further research is encouraged to explore the intricacies of this singularity.

Future research can examine a larger demographic sample, compare gender differences, include a larger geographic region, or incorporate longitudinal data. It is hoped that the findings of this study encourage organizations to exercise better WFB policies and flexible work schedules, as well as raise awareness about stress management and spousal support systems in an effort to enhance the quality of life for working women in Malaysia and beyond.

Item Type: Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)
Depositing User: Hassan, Razan
Date Deposited: 26 Jul 2022 01:40
Last Modified: 26 Jul 2022 01:40

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