Top tips for parents struggling with remote working
HR Grapevine looks at ways to help parents who are struggling with remote working.
The UK has just reached its fourth week of lockdown following the coronavirus pandemic, and the Government has since revealed there are no immediate plans to lift lockdown measures.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab recently revealed that the UK’s plan is working but that ‘we are still not past the peak of this virus’, reported the BBC.
He added: “Keep this up, we have come too far, lost too many loved ones and sacrificed too much to ease up.”
It is therefore likely that parents will face further disruption as they continue working from home alongside children who are not able to attend school.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed last month that there would be a nationwide school closure, which has left many parents juggling home-schooling alongside their work commitments and responsibilities.
According to Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, employers ‘must accept’ that there will be disruption to many employees’ lives and should therefore put in place allowances to support those who may be impacted.
“The Government’s decision to close schools will have a massive impact on working parents. Those that are able to work from home should continue to do so as far as they can. However, this is an exceptional circumstance. Employers must accept that there will be disruption and that working parents will struggle to be as productive as normal,” he said.
“Employers need to make allowances for this and take a flexible approach, especially for people with younger children who will inevitably need more care. With many schools looking at remote teaching, parents will have to juggle their work with helping their children to access school activities. There may be limited space and limited equipment to manage both parents and children working from home each day. There will be disruption.
“Employees should speak to their line managers and HR teams to understand how they can best balance family and work commitments, especially as this stands to be for a prolonged period of time.”
Similarly, an HR leader recently took to LinkedIn urging parents who are working from home to “stop apologising for kid-noises in the background while you’re on conference calls (sic)”.
With this in mind, what can working parents put in place in the home to help them manage both work and school? According to the Independent, establishing a routine is essential to give each day structure, for example, putting in place nap times, set times for meals and when teaching will commence or end.
In addition, putting in place a designated workspace can help to separate work and home life, which will help parents to concentrate on work tasks.
Making use of the technology that’s available is also essential. This is something Lindsey Ivie is doing. Writing on LinkedIn, she shared that she would be launching a virtual pre-school to occupy children during the day, while giving ‘parents the opportunity to catch up on work’.
Additionally, if an employee is feeling overwhelmed by the multiple responsibilities, they should speak to the firm's HR department about the possibility of changing hours to help with childcare arrangements.
Meanwhile, Rowland Hanley, Group Vice President at Gartner, called on business leaders to ‘lead compassionately’ during these uncertain times where parents have had to adjust their lives dramatically.
In a LinkedIn post, he said: “Stop worrying if people are pulling their weight and start worrying about the weight on their shoulders. They need you now more than ever. Lead compassionately. I know you can.”
It’s likely that many parents are trying to adapt as quickly as they can to manage both their home and work life, meaning never before has it been more crucial for an employer to support their staff.