Coronavirus – Survival Tips For Parents Who Work From Home
On Friday afternoon, March 20, schools across the UK were ordered to close “until further notice” to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the UK and Northern Ireland.
At the same time, organizations that avoided being shut down under the direction of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson have moved their activities online or have instructed their employees to work from home for the span of their remain.
While the intent behind these efforts is to smooth the curve, they create another major problem for working parents across the UK: how do you work remotely – effectively – when your home has also become a school and kindergarten is? Below are some tips that I’ve implemented in my own household to help our family navigate these unknown waters.
Keep communication channels open
If your home has suddenly become your new place of work, school or kindergarten for your children due to coronavirus quarantine, your communication skills are in greater demand than ever before: both with your boss and with your family members.
Have an honest conversation with your boss as soon as possible to understand their expectations and discuss their availability while you work from home. Depending on the needs and age of your children, you may need to adjust your working hours to reflect something realistic.
For example, it may be more productive to work early in the morning before your household is awake and return to work later in the day. If you both have an agreement, let your staff know your availability, reschedule meetings if necessary, and block the time in your diary if you want to be offline.
It is also important to talk to your family about this new situation so that everyone knows when mom or dad can play and when they are “at work” and should not be disturbed (except in an emergency, of course).
Create a new “standard”
Children of all ages thrive on structure, and in these uncertain times, it has never been so important to create one for your whole family. Based on your family’s job requirements and level of childcare, create a household schedule that easily blocks time for meals, rest, playtime, online schooling, and homework, etc. The more you can institutionalize your week by week diary, the simpler it will be to deal with your kids and be productive.
However, don’t worry about adhering to a strict schedule, especially at the beginning. Remember, this is new to everyone – your schedule will be some time before you figure out what works best for you and your family. Sometimes it helps to give your older children a few options (e.g., “You can choose to practice your math either at 10 am or after lunch”) so that they feel more in control of their days to have.
Reevaluate your meetings.
Fortunately, we live in a technological age in which it is easier than ever to do business from home. However, I can tell you firsthand how difficult it can be to attend a video conference when a toddler squeaks in the background or climbs on your back. See this new situation as an opportunity to determine which meetings really need to take place and which can be done via email or a short Slack exchange.
For the meetings that need to take place, try to schedule them in your diary every day during a block of time, preferably if you have someone to look after the children. In case that, your meeting attendees work in an alternate time zone, exploit this by planning your calls early in the morning or later at night when your children are sleeping.
If everything else fails, have snacks and movies ready when you need to take a call. I have found that the same equipment and activities that I do with my little one on an airplane flight work well at home when I need a quiet time to take part in a work call.
In this stressful time, it is important to stay connected, especially while practicing social distancing. Call your loved ones, schedule Google Hangouts, FaceTime Meetings, or Zoom Meetings to connect with your friends and family.
Also contact other working parents to share tips, support each other, and take pity when needed. I personally have found comfort (and much-needed laughter) from Facebook groups like parents who stay healthy during the Corona Virus.
With the help of technology, the support of your friends and family, a little creativity and organization and a lot of patience, you can transform your home into a workplace, a school, and a kindergarten.
About the Author: Amanda Augustine is a career expert for TopCV.