The last year has been unique. The increased prevalence of remote work (and remote schooling) has forced many of us to change our daily lives, especially our workdays.
In addition to shifting to remote-work, many of us have also become teachers' assistants, juggling video conferences while keeping kids either entertained or on task. Multitasking between work and childcare is not easy, but it's a challenge 65% of US households have faced during the pandemic.
As a successful IT manager of a large corporate enterprise, Fredmund closely manages daily job functions while simultaneously helping his children with schoolwork. Although he is both talented and detail-oriented, he's struggling. Between his kids popping into his office for a "quick question" while he's on a video conference (with his boss) and his Slack and email notifications pinging from morning till night, Fredmund's exhausted. He needs help. He calls some friends and colleagues for coping advice.
Here are some of the ways Fredmund's buddies have negotiated their work-meshed-with-life balance.
Set up a Routine
Traditional schooling sets a daily routine - parents and kids know what to expect. Children wake up at a set time, get ready for school, eat breakfast, and begin the day. Once at school, kids move through various classroom routines, then (possibly) attend an activity, (hopefully) do homework, and, eventually, go to bed. Rinse and repeat. On the good days, anyway, right?
While online schooling is for some a necessity, the virtual classroom demands more family flexibility in terms of teaching and learning. With this shift, typical weekday routines were destroyed. And for a lot of families, like Fredmund's, things got messy.
After getting some good advice, Fredmund created a schedule that syncs with a typical school day. A program that he and his kids now adhere to. On the good days.
- Maintain a consistent daily wake-up time (rousting sleeping kids is so fun!)
- Brush teeth/get dressed (at least out of PJs)
- Eat a healthy breakfast (give yourself a lot of grace on “healthy”)
- Send your kid(s) to work (see Setup an Office Space below)
- Provide ample breaks and lunches (and snacks)
- Allot time for homework and other school-related stuff
Setup an Office Space
Some professionals already had office spaces at home when the pandemic hit, but others didn't. At this point, you've likely created a spot for yourself, even if it's the kitchen counter. But did you designate a defined spot for your kid(s)?
If children are too close to their parents, both will struggle to stay focused. In some cases, being too far away can also present challenges. Whatever space you decide to designate for your child(ren), make sure they agree, as that's where you'll expect them to be most of the school day. It’s easier to say to your kid with a question, “can we sync up at your office when I’m off my call?” Kids “love” corporate lingo.
Be Flexible with Work Schedules
Parenting during the pandemic has been great (more time with the kids) and kind of not as great (more time with the kids while you're trying to work).
Fredmund's friend suggested he discuss his daily routines with his boss and coworkers so they could all adjust to the current "norm."
If needed, parents should leverage the flexibility of remote schedules to finish required work projects on time. Preferably a time that also makes the most sense for the family. The beauty of remote work environments lies in their flexibility and adaptable scheduling.
Establish Open Communication With Your Colleagues
Communication is the key to establishing both successful professional and personal relationships. Instead of leaving coworkers in the dark about scheduling conflicts, be sure to articulate concerns and plan ahead.
Colleagues are experiencing similar frustrations related to at-home schooling and are likely more understanding than ever about family challenges, especially when your office and home are combined.
People are staying connected with the help of virtual work environments. Technological advances have provided companies with the opportunity to operate throughout challenging circumstances successfully. Staying prepared for all situations is critical for closely managing professional and personal responsibilities.
How Are TBC's Teams Managing the Remote Work Situation?
At TBC, we provide our clients with the same tools and resources we use to create our own secure remote-work environments. We understand the challenges of families mastering the Zoomscape as we all wait for a safe return to in-person work and school schedules.
TBConsulting is dedicated to helping companies strategically meet mission-critical IT needs while protecting data infrastructures. For additional information on how TBC can help your company, get in touch. We’d love to help.