This is our third in a series of Lean Into Work From Home posts; enjoy!
As an employer, you’re starting to find the positives in having some of your team working from home. You need less office space, there are typically fewer distractions for you, and then there’s the productivity increases … But for your team members with young children, they now have a challenge that can be hard to manage.
With schools now operating virtually, and preschools and daycare centers having very limited availability, parent employees are becoming master jugglers. As a manager, you can’t stick your head in the sand and say “it’s their problem”. A more healthy and collaborative approach is “let’s figure this out together”. Here’s some tips for manager and WFH employees:
- Be okay with nontraditional schedules. You may be struggling to adjust to this new normal, but it may actually be even harder for your team. Make it okay for them to work staggered hours or at unconventional times.
- Measure effectiveness in productivity, not hours. It was easy to measure start & end times when your team came to the office. Let’s face it; we all obsessed with hours worked as a KPI. But what they do is far more important than how much time they clock.
- Help out when possible. Consider giving a stipend for books, toys and/or streaming services to help the parents with a big job. Give them a day off occasionally to hang with the kids and recharge. Ask your now WFH team when the best times are to hold remote meetings. And make sure your benefits plan offers counseling services for stressed out parents.
- Make a point to let your team know they’re doing great! Positive feedback has always been important, but now more than ever “catching them doing something right” can pay big dividends. Go out of your way to tell your peeps what you appreciate about them, and if they’re juggling job & parent duties pretty well, share how much you admire and appreciate them.
- Work out a schedule. 9 to 5 wasn’t designed for WFH parents. Consider starting your work day earlier, and move the workout to the middle of the day and let your kids participate. Work out how to deal with required “quiet” times; phone conversations with clients, Zoom meeting with your team, etc. And make sure to capitalize on naptime, and if they are past the naptime, be sure to schedule quiet time for them.
- Find creative ways to entertain the little ones. When they have something fun to look forward to, they’ll be less likely to hound you now. Educational games, arts-and-craft projects, and listening to Dolly Parton reading them a book are things to keep them occupied in a meaningful way.
- Lean on your tribe. Your friends have discovered some cool coping mechanisms; talk to them. And consider scheduling safe play dates with your closest friends; just make sure everyone is on the same page about limiting exposure.
- Cut yourself some slack. No one anticipated a virus-fed pandemic when starting a family. No one blames you (or your kids) for juggling various really important things. Remember that everyone is facing a new normal, and your employer, teammates and customers are more understanding than you think.
And don’t forget the time-honored value of teamwork; “It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) that those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” – Charles Darwin