Home & Work

On Tuesday we had the opportunity to return to the Espacio Fundación Telefónica in Madrid to present the results of the research we have carried out with the International Centre for Work and Family (ICWF) at Iese Business School on the impact of housework on our personal, family and professional lives.


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.



In the UK there is currently a joint action case coming to court, brought by students who feel their access to the education promised by their university courses was denied by Covid restrictions. This article does not concern itself with the rights and wrongs of the case, but with one of the points made by the complainants. The point is that “hands-on” practical skills cannot be fully taught online. Students argue that while some disciplines do allow for remote learning, for others you just have to be in the same room as your teachers. Sculpture, for example, or neurosurgery.

A student of sculpture notes that it is more than the teacher’s words that guides the student’s hands, it is his or her own actual hands working with the same material at the same time. A student of neurosurgery quotes her frustrated teacher saying to camera, “You really need to feel this as well as see it.”

Being in the same room. Real hands at work. Things you can feel as well as see. The points made about the skills needed by these students can be readily applied to the home context. There are many things that we can learn – obviously – at school and college. Many things to be studied in books and on screen. It is at home though that life’s earliest and most formative lessons are given and received.

In my career as a teacher, I have had the privilege to watch young children at work and play. Unconsciously, what has been learned at home is played out in the classroom. It does not take a degree in child-psychology (valuable though this training is) to work out home attitudes and practice. A child’s responses to simple instructions such as, “Tidy-up time, now” or “Please share those crayons” can reveal a lot.

Broadly speaking, if you have seen certain positive patterns at home you are more likely to reproduce them in other circumstances. And not only to have seen them, but to have been guided in them – watched those you love do them and then started to do them yourself. Children learn from those they love and not from what they “say” so much as what they “do”  -as do we all.  This literal “handing-on” of attitudes and practices is age-old and holds true against the new challenges of our own age.

Recent research undertaken by HRF with our partners at the International Center for Work and Family at IESE underlines this. See recent article in Forbes. In the next few weeks, we shall be continuing to reflect on these initial findings, which range from the age-old distribution and benefits of household tasks to the new challenges of digital communication. Helping us make the most of the time when we are home together in the same room, to pass on the skills needed for life outside.

By Susan Peatfield

HELLO 2023!

We welcome 2023 with new content, new research, an Experts Meeting in September and presentations of our latest book in several countries. Looking back, we have realised that HRF is 17 years old this year. Not an insignificant number. Almost two decades dedicated to research and analysis of the impact of public policies on our homes.

For this reason, and because we do not want anything to be left out, we are going to offer you, on the one hand, the data and conclusions of our own research that we are carrying out with the ICWF/IESE and, on the other hand, we are going to release all the literature that we have been creating since 2006 with the collaboration of our experts.

The blog thus takes on a new dimension as a showcase for our academics with one article per month. We hope that you find it useful and enriching to read all these articles that we will prepare with enthusiasm from the work of Home Renaissance Foundation.

The HRF family is growing both in terms of experts and readers. More and more of you are academics who have dedicated your time to research the reality of homes from the perspective of your own disciplines. With your knowledge, you help us to put the home back in its place at the centre of public debate. That is why we also want you to share your concerns with us.

On the other hand, there are readers who are homemakers, who we address every week through our blog, the web or social networks to advance results, analysis, conclusions, recommendations and who, as you tell us in your emails, look forward to our reflections every Thursday. We also count on you to send us your concerns, because all proposals are welcome in order to defend and care for homes.
Until now, we were the ones who set the themes for our Experts Meetings, we were the ones who decided what approach to give to our Conferences according to the needs that were arising in society and also anticipating possible events, always trying to cover the home in its 360 degrees. But, lately, you are also knocking on our door to request specific research, to call on experts who have studied the home and ask them to carry out specific analyses.
For this reason, this year we will be holding gatherings and meetings to obtain reports focusing on issues that we have agreed with both the United Nations and Nottingham Trent University. We will keep you updated through our blog, website and social media. If you are specifically interested in any of these, please write to us for more details.
Let homes come first in 2023!


This weekend, I witnessed a conversation at a family meal that got me thinking. There was a discussion about the cost-effectiveness of social science research. It is obvious that when a university institution, for example, invests funds in research into a type of cancer, it is likely to eventually produce results that are of interest both to science and to the advancement of the patient’s cure. But what happens when you invest money, personnel and time in research, for example, social relations in the neighbourhood, the era of disinformation, the evolution of house design or social tribes and their influence on art? Some people think that this type of analysis is not profitable and its conclusions look good in books and encyclopaedias, even as study material for future research, but they do not contribute real, quantifiable value to society.

The problem is how to value profitability, or rather, why value things only in terms of economic profitability. If we were to think only in terms of money, efficiency, results, there would be many aspects and even people that would seem useless to us and that we would discard because they are not profitable for society. But this vision would do a disservice to the already self-interested and utilitarian society we are building.

Without Anthropology we would not know man, without Philosophy we would not have asked ourselves the why of things, without Sociology we would not understand how human beings relate to each other, without Art we would not value creativity or the abstract aspects of life.

A youth centre is not profitable, each minor costs society about £100 a day, £36,500 a year, but the community makes every effort to ensure that the young people who have ended up there are able to obtain sufficient tools to integrate into society and be good men in the future. And I can think of many other examples like this one. We cannot think in terms of profitability when what is at stake is the person.

It is very sad that we are only able to pay attention when life is measured in figures. Institutions such as ours devote enormous efforts to defend and foster the well-being in homes without which the individual would not achieve the balance necessary to survive in this world that demands so much profitability.

Thankfully, we are not robots!

We know ourselves to be social beings who need one another and are reminded of it each day in various little ways. The lockdowns during the pandemic made that fact abundantly clear to us and the whole of society. Our vulnerability and need to be cared for is addressed in an article by Professor Argandoña published recently in the Spanish weekly Alfa y Omega, following the launch of our latest Communication Project.

But in addition to needing each other, we each play a part in various spheres of our lives. But unlike robots, we do not have the capacity to separate some aspects from others but can juggle those differing roles with ease and naturalness. We don’t arrive home placing our professional avatar in airplane mode, or work in the office with our personal antenna switched off. Fortunately, although it may seem like a nuisance at times, our lives develop and overlap on personal, family, professional and social levels. We are the fruit of the combination of all of them.

There are stages in life when some gain more weight than others, but very rarely are there times when one aspect of our life is blocked out altogether. We are born into a family, we interact with our friends at school, we are part of a sports or social group and we work to earn a living.

Our well-being and our balanced lives, both personal and mental, depend on stability and harmony in all these areas. And since this balance is recognised as being so crucial to achieving our true potential, we have entered a research partnership with the International Centre for Work and Family (ICWF) at the IESE Business School in Barcelona, to investigate and analyse the interaction between these spheres of life.

Over the next four years, three researchers from the research centre, led by Prof. Mireia Las Heras, whose credentials you can read about here, will be carrying out extensive research into this field. We will be disseminating the results of this in-depth investigation, which will provide a greater recognition of the work involved in creating healthy and strong home environments and family lives. The objective is to identify individual and collective strengths within the family sphere both in attributes and processes and to discover how they enable human beings to flourish.

We are pleased to announce this joint project partnership which builds on many years of collaboration with IESE Business School.