An unprecedented percentage of the global workforce has faced the rapid transition to home office within the past few months, but that transition has not looked the same for every employee or employer. The diversity of home-office situations is as wide and vibrant as the workers themselves and switching from in-office to remote work has not been equally simple or difficult across the board.
If you are someone who is facing a new home office situation compiled with your children at home due to school closures, you are not alone. Here are a few things that we hope will help you smooth your work-life balance.
Don’t Do This Alone
Our time in quarantine has been extremely isolating, but it is vital that you have help during this season. Attempting to balance a regular workday with the needs of your children is a tremendous challenge, and it is simply unrealistic and unsustainable to expect yourself to shoulder those tasks alone.
While normal childcare facilities have more or less ceased to be viable options in most places, you will need to consider dividing childcare duties and responsibilities between yourself and your partner or another live-in family member. If you are without a live-in family member, consider temporarily shifting your living situation such that you can work and take care of your children in a sustainable manner. Ultimately, we understand that you will do what you need to do but if at all possible, call in some reinforcements.
Lean Into Flexible Hours
These days, it seems like the “work while they sleep” vibe has never been so strong. With that, it’s necessary for you (and your employer) to become okay with working in a more flexible way. This means dealing with family responsibilities when necessary, accomplishing work tasks around those core family tasks, and intentionally scheduling in time for yourself.
While “you time” might seem completely out of reach at the moment, we encourage you to try and schedule in at least one hour each week. Managing your work tasks on top of family maintenance can be a recipe for burnout, and as shelter-in-place orders are constantly being extended, you’ll need to square up to anything you’re doing that isn’t sustainable for several months, plus.
By switching gears to task-based work habits rather than hours-based work habits, you will be able to reallocate your day between work, family, and yourself. Be patient; this may take some time to get used to and, while it probably won’t go smoothly every day, you’ll eventually get the hang of the balance that works best for you and your family.
Check For New Policies
This one is important! Due to this unprecedented situation, many companies (and governments) have updated their policies on home office balance and family responsibility management. Some governing entities have offered extended PTO for families with young children up to a certain age, extensions on projects, and increased leniency in general during this time.
If you are an employer, make it a priority to alert your staff to changes in policy that will make it easier for them to manage their families during shelter-in-place. If you are an employee, be vigilant about keeping yourself informed. While it is your employer’s duty to keep you updated, make sure you contact them if you haven’t heard any recent updates, or if you are in need of a special dispensation that hasn’t been widely offered. Businesses that have not issued company-wide policy updates will need to hear from you; let them know what you need during this time.
Over the past few months, flexibility has been the operative word. It is simply unrealistic to expect governments, corporations, and individuals to operate as per usual under the current situation, and managing a work-family balance is no exception. In order to successfully manage your familial responsibilities as well as your work tasks, practice leaning into your immediate community, allowing yourself to reallocate your regular working hours, and keep in touch with your supervisor in order to let them know what you need.
Work Globally, Live Locally.