The New Zealand economy would potentially be $1.5 billion better off if housework and childcare was shared more evenly by couples.
A survey of 2400 Kiwis commissioned by Westpac New Zealand and undertaken by Deloitte found 73 per cent of respondents thought if both partners in a couple worked they should share the load at home equally.
But only 10 per cent of couples who both worked fulltime went 50-50 and only 7 per cent of couples who worked the same number of hours did equal unpaid work.
Men in couples where both worked the same number of paid hours said they did on average 19 hours of unpaid work while women said they did 28 hours.
But it also found there was some desire for change, with men keen to drop their paid hours and do more unpaid work and vice versa for women.
The report found if men picked up more of the unpaid work at home, enabling women to extend their hours in paid work it would boost the economy and individual household's income by an average of $530 per year.
The modelling looked at the higher earner in a relationship - typically the man - doing 1.3 hours less of paid work and picking up an extra 3.8 hours of unpaid work at home.
The lower earner - typically the woman - would do 4.3 hours more of paid work each week, but reduce their unpaid work in the home by 3.8 hours.
This would result in a net increase of three labour hours per couple, per week. At a national level, this would result in an increase in the total number of hours worked across New Zealand boosting the economy by $1.5b or 0.5 per cent of GDP and adding 25,000 full-time equivalent workers.
It also found the shift could help close New Zealand's gender pay gap over time and improve the financial wellbeing of women.
The report found four ways change could be encouraged; normalising flexible work including for men and those in senior roles, businesses and government encouraging fathers to take parental leave, addressing the unaffordability of childcare and challenging the traditional gender norms of society.
David McLean, chief executive of Westpac New Zealand, said businesses needed to make flexible working widely available and the ability to work from home.
"Some of the things we have already done [at Westpac] is more flexible working so make as many roles as you can allowed to work flexibly so people can fit the job around their life.
"Secondly, working from home which we have all learnt to do from Covid, we have got all our staff now potentially able to work from home."
He said that wasn't available at the bank a few years ago.
McLean said the Government also needed to revisit its parental leave policy to encourage fathers to take time off paid work when they had a baby.
"I think we should look at other countries that have done this and usually in this case it is true you look at Scandinavia and the Nordic countries - Finland and Sweden they have changed their parental leave around to really strongly incentivise fathers."
McLean said in New Zealand the parental leave scheme focused on giving leave to a primary caregiver, which was typically the mother.
"My objection to that it is a little outdated and secondly if you are going to have a thing called primary caregiver and you have societal norms already expecting women to do it and then you have got a gender pay gap which means the woman is often earning less than the man so it is economically inefficient for her to be the one that stays at work.
"Then you are forcing the woman to be the primary caregiver and then the scheme is saying put all the load on her."
The report also looked at how working from home during the Covid-19 alert level 4 national lockdown in 2020 affected the way couples shared the load.
Men reported doing more unpaid work around home during this period, while women did a higher than normal proportion of the paid work within the couple.
"The Covid-19 lockdowns opened our eyes to what sharing the load means for every one of us. For families they were particularly disruptive, but they also provided the blueprint for change," McLean said.
New mum's hubby steps up
Philippa Lee used to do most of the housework - but that all changed when she became a mum.
Just over a month ago, the 33-year-old returned to full-time work, six months after giving birth to her first child, as she and her husband agreed a second income was needed to save for their first home.
"I've really had to ask my partner to step in."
Lee said her husband Wim Bulen had been "fantastic" in asking how he could help, which allowed the couple to share the duties. Now they "split workloads as evenly as possible".
Their current arrangement is Bulen does most of the cooking, cleaning the kitchen and outside work such as mowing the lawns. Lee will do the laundry plus feed and organise the baby.
"Him doing the majority of the cooking and cleaning of the kitchen takes quite a lot of the load."
Lee said it helped to establish what each partner was better at. She was more organized and found it easier to prepare the baby's clothes. Bulen had discovered a love for cooking while cutting out takeaways to save money.
"If there are jobs one partner likes or prefers to do, it makes sense for them to do it."
Lee said it all came down to communication in the relationship.
"If you don't have that communication there one partner is going to feel a little resentful."
The couple both work full-time but have the flexibility of working from home, which Lee said helps them "stay on top of things".
"Having really supportive employers really helps."
The couple also have a "basic rule" that after 9pm no chores are to be done, allowing them time to unwind while baby is asleep.