How We Work Now: Learning from the Impact of COVID-19 to Build an Industry that Works for Parents and Carers
How We Work Now: Learning from the Impact of COVID-19 to Build an Industry that Works for Parents and Carers is a follow-on from our scoping study Back From The Brink, which was published in March 2021.
The How We Work Now survey ran from Monday 17 May to Wednesday 30 June 2021 and around 500 parents and carers working across all areas of the UK screen sector responded.
Where Back From The Brink identified a ‘cascade effect’ experienced by parents and carers, where day to day uncertainty about work and caregiving resulted in severe psychological and economic stress, How We Work Now emphasises how urgently the screen sector needs to take action in order to make living and working in the post-COVID screen sector a viable career-long option for all.
From the analysis of responses to our How We Work Now survey this much is starkly clear – how we work now isn’t working. It isn’t working for anyone. But for parents and caregivers in the screen industries, it really isn’t working – and for those on low incomes, single parents, and those living in non-urban regions, the situation gets exponentially worse.
In order to make meaningful, impactful change that helps everyone, it is vitally important that we address the needs of those who are most vulnerable. By addressing those most excluded, we bring everybody with us, creating the greatest positive impacts for all.
How We Work Now enters an urgent and busy field of COVID-19 related research and reporting: into the creative and cultural industries workers; and among parents and carers. Two other reports crossed both those axes: Locked Down and Locked Out – TV Mums in COVID by Share My Telly Job with the University of Nottingham (2021), and Parents in Performing Arts’ COVID Report (2020). Our informal conversations with Share My Telly Job, PiPA and grassroots labour organisations in the Creative and Cultural Industries reveal the need for a regular forum in which researchers can share and compare both methodological approaches and key findings, towards establishing best practice and collectively pushing for change.
This is one of the reasons we have aligned the outcomes of How We Work Now with the work of these organisations and their associated outputs. To share this research further, and so it cannot be ignored, we’ve created a Dropbox folder containing a library of allied reporting, no sign-in needed.
You can also listen to the executive summary as an audio recording on our podcast via Mixcloud (where you’ll find the exec summary and all four episodes) and on the player below – and follow up with further episodes where we share our ideas on how to do solutions-oriented research, and how to translate research findings into solutions! Find episode transcripts and link sheets in this folder.
Raising Films acknowledges the support that has allowed this work to take place and thank our funders: the BFI using National Lottery funding, The National Lottery and the Scottish Government through Screen Scotland, The Screen Industries Growth Network, Bectu and the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain.
“I already dance the difficult dance of working part time in our industry due to my caring responsibilities and society and household’s assumptions of the woman as the care provider.” Female, 35-44yo, Yorkshire
“My father is near 80. He is also an amputee with a persistent cough, if he had caught COVID he would be dead. This meant that I was unable to work and as I was a freelancer I was ineligible for any sort of furlough. Luckily I was saving to buy a house in 2020. However now I’m burning though the deposit with no job prospects and a worsening mental and physical condition while also caring for a father who is getting worse, but will likely need years of care.” Male, 25-34yo, County Down
How We Work Now: presents the largest screen sector survey on the experiences of parents and carers to date and our survey respondents reflected on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
77.46% reported caregiving as having a negative impact on their ability to work in the screen sector
68.22% support childcare as a tax-deductible expense
63% of women reported caregiving as the greatest challenge to their ability to work
59.94% reported they gained additional caring responsibilities related to children
“I’m a single parent of a school age child and during lockdown I was homeschooling alone, with no options for paid support, which effectively meant I was unable to work as I had lost all of my previous support network. My child eventually was taken in [to school] on the key worker provision in January 2021 but, for personal reasons relating to her other parent, this was a very stressful process and has had a very negative impact on my mental health.” Female, 35-44yo, London
A suite of bite-sized case studies explore the particular experiences of a number of cohorts identified by the research team. These cohorts are:
- The Freelancer
- The Parent/Carer
- The Parent/Carer struggling with mental ill health
- The low-income Parent/Carer
- The Single Parent
- The Carer
- The disabled Parent/Carer
- The Parent/Carer working outside major urban areas
COMING SOON… We acknowledge that you, our community, may fall within and between a number of these cohorts at any one time so Raising Films offers you a template to note your own experiences. We hope this prompter will help to shape your thoughts and needs ahead of meetings and conversations about your current work or a new contract.
“My dream work situation would be support for disability without constant comments about paperwork and a bullying environment in projects as in pressure to stay and do more hours to get through huge workloads. This pressure ultimately lies with productions insisting on shorter prep time to save money.” Female, 55-64yo, London
Several practical recommendations are included in the report, aligned with the specific needs and desired actions expressed by survey’s respondents. Calling on structural changes such as mitigating exclusionary hiring practices based on informal and reputational networks; as well as cultural changes and ending the fetishisation of long-hours culture and expectation of availability, especially in the context of remote working, where online presence is stretched to 24/7.
As an outcome of the survey and subsequent analysis Raising Films has produced a guide How to Hire and Retain Parent and Carer Employees and Workers. We ask you to download a copy, use it, talk about it and share it.
“Work is social and rewarding and I found the lack of work and contact with peers had a negative impact on my mental health.” Male, 45-54yo, Stirling
“COVID and other health problems meant I couldn’t work much. But, I like the way COVID has normalised working from home and that, for a while at least, London wasn’t the centre of the universe.” Female, 45-54yo, East of England