Working from home during COVID-19…….with kids

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Throughout the last few weeks, we have helped businesses plan for the impacts of COVID-19 and have seen a large number of organisations move to staff now working remotely. Our organisation is not exempt from the pandemic and we too have been working remotely for well over a week now.

As everyone’s individual circumstances come into play, we see many parents now forced to working from home with their kids in tow for the foreseeable future. Parents around the country have gone into overdrive – reshuffling rooms, setting up home offices (and stocking up pantries with an endless supply of snacks) whilst still trying to meet the demands of their work responsibilities in a time where uncertainty and anxiety levels are high. As a parent of three primary school aged children, I am fortunate enough to be able to work from home and thought I’d share some of the things that have been working well so far:

DRESS FOR YOUR ROLE

This has been key to keeping routine in my household. With my youngest child a keen observer of what I wear each day to help him determine whether it’s a “work day for Mum” or the weekend. I’ve continued to dress for work and whilst the commute has now been cut down to less than a minute to my office upstairs it has helped my kids understand when I’m working and when I’m not. It also helps me mentally prepare to be in “work mode”, focused for the day ahead, switched on and ready to go. The other benefit of dressing the part is that it also does help for the unexpected Zoom meeting with colleagues, clients and candidates. If you don’t want to dress full work mode – waist up will do as well!

GET THE KIDS INVOLVED

Whilst COVID-19 has certainly thrown curveballs to peoples lives, careers and plans for the indefinite future my kids are relishing in the fact that Mum and Dad are both working from home. They were so excited to help set up our offices and go for a spin on the office chair. Let them into this part of your life (when you can) and see what you do when you go to work. It has already sparked some interesting conversations around the dinner table and has allowed our children to understand the “why” of needing to work. Looking for further inspiration ideas (and potentially an hour or two uninterrupted work time – perhaps ask them to design your office sign to even make the space look more official!). If they know this defined space is where you go to work, hopefully it means they understand you’re not to be interrupted when you’re in this space – easier said than done at times I know!

FLEXIBILITY IS THE KEY

The reality of what we are currently facing means for many that it’s unrealistic to maintain your typical hours of work. Talk to your employer about what an ideal day/week looks like for you as you juggle work and family life. What flexibility can be offered to ensure you can still do both roles to the best of your ability? Can some work be moved to the evenings? Early mornings? Reduce your hours by using some of your leave entitlements? I have been fortunate that I’ve been able to shift my hours across 5 days instead of the 3 days that I typically work which has certainly helped with the juggle. Whilst it has been an adjustment, it’s a good opportunity to trial working at different times of the day – you may be surprised at what time of the day is most productive for you. Continue to refine and review what is working and what is not and keep talking to your Manager about how you are coping with the new arrangement. And most importantly, stay visible to your team online. Update your diary as frequently as possible so your Manager and team know when you are online. This will ensure meetings can be booked around your availability.

STAY CONNECTED AND COMMUNICATE

Once of the biggest challenges at Inspire HQ that we have faced is the lack of face to face contact within our team. With an entire team working remotely, we have missed the office banter, walks to get coffee and those quick 5-minute incidental conversations throughout the day. We moved very quickly to adapting to a new way of communicating internally through the use of technology such as Zoom and Messenger. We have set up regular touch points throughout the day to cover off any important business, share wins (and losses) as well as to check in on each other’s mental health and support each other. We are all navigating through unchartered territory so to know we are doing it as a team and are all in this together has made a huge difference.

EMBRACE THE NEW NORMAL

With the world around us changing literally by the day, it is hard not to crystal ball gaze and wonder what lies ahead. However, it is also important to remember that what we are experiencing won’t be forever and the juggling act is very real! Instead try and embrace the new normal for what it is and make the most of it and if all else fails and there’s a deadline that you need to meet, you might like to recreate this sign that I saw on social media over the weekend – (I’m sure that many parents can relate to this):

If you would like some further tips on working from home and looking after your mental health during COVID-19, click on the links below:

COV-19_Info Sheet_Looking after your mental health_2020-03 V2.0:

COV-19_Info Sheet_Working from home tips_2020-03

If you would like further information or support during this time as your team navigates working remotely, feel free to contact me on 0427 539 233.

Megan Vila Pouca has over 10 years’ experience in the recruitment industry and is Inspire HQ’s Business Support specialist. Megan has a personalised approach to partnering with businesses she recruits for; knowing and understanding the business and the culture is critical for her. Not only does this ensure Megan recruits the best of the best for her clients but it also ensures her clients are able to retain the best talent.  Passionate about assisting others and understanding people’s genuine motivations and what gives them job satisfaction is what drives Megan. She loves being able to assist people in taking that next step in their career and coaching and mentoring them on that journey. Building strong relationships is what Megan is all about.  Find more useful information and advice at www.inspirehq.com.au or by following Megan on LinkedIn.

Disclaimer: The material contained in this publication is of a general nature only. It is not, nor is intended to be, legal advice. If you wish to act based on the content of this publication, we recommend that you seek professional advice.

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