The Future of Work is Now: Balancing Parenting and Work

It’s no secret that 2020 has been a challenging year for everyone. Many companies have had to do more with less resources putting additional pressure on their teams to perform. Individuals have felt the pressure and taken on the challenge with gratitude to have work during a tumultuous time. Working parents have the added responsibility of not only keeping their children safe at home, but also being a teacher’s assistant, IT specialist, and full emotional support system. As a whole, balancing parenting and work looks much different this year than in previous years.Most workforces have a substantial number of their employees who are working parents. Noticeably, children started popping up on video calls, team members spent entire calls on mute, and emails were sent at all hours of the night. With these unique concerns and for the sake of the business, companies and managers have had to become flexible. Burnout benefits no one. As we optimistically look to the future post-pandemic, some of these solutions will become and should become the standard.

Solutions for Businesses

To improve the work life of parents within your organization, there are several best practices available. Balancing parenting and work is not a new hurdle, but it has proven a bigger hurdle this year as compared to previous years. Make sure your company culture shines through the technology and management techniques you choose.

Maximize Team Collaboration with Technology

Tech companies have been working on useful tools for this exact situation for years. Now is the time to put the technology to work.

  1. Use a system like Basecamp that helps to make goals and timelines clear for everyone on a project. With teams working apart, clarity around responsibilities and deadlines is essential.
  2. Use communication tools like Slack to ensure your team can easily collaborate and socialize. Offer up positive affirmations and congratulations for everyone to see.
  3. Use video! Make it standard to have the video on every call. Ensure team members that they will not be judged on what is in their background. If they are uncomfortable showing their home, there are plentiful backgrounds to choose from. Additionally, send video messages to your team members. It’s always nice to see a smiling face.

Foster Real Connections

About a third of our lives are spent working and, often, the work experience spills into our personal lives. There is no reason our work lives cannot have a positive impact.

  1. Develop a consistent way that people with similar challenges can talk together and exchange ideas. Ask your teams about what topics they would like help on. This can be as simple as sending a mass email, gathering the tips/ideas, and responding with a list of solutions from their peers. It can be as complex as creating peer groups with leaders and meeting agendas.
  2. Managers and Mentors, check-in regularly with one-on-ones for everyone on your team. Always start a conversation asking about something not work related. Enjoy a few minutes to “shoot the breeze” before diving into work talk. Ask about their children. Those few minutes matter to build rapport.
  3. Use a Virtual Buddy System. This does not take the place of a manager or mentor. A virtual buddy is someone a new employee can go to for simple organizational questions and an introduction to company norms and company culture. How do I find this? Who can I speak to about this? It is nice to have someone who isn’t your boss to go to for help.
  4. You may see a theme that these best practices are focused on mental health and communication. A healthy work life can boost the mental health and resilience of your team.

Solutions for Working Parents

Parents, there are things you can do to help yourself and your family, too. You are not alone in this struggle of balancing parenting and work. Sometimes the smallest improvement can remove enough of the burden to attain the peace you deserve.

  1. Don’t fight the schedule. Get on a new schedule as soon as possible and stick to it. Of course, there will be days that the schedule does not work but it should happen the majority of the time. Create blocks on the schedule for work time and for family time. Make it clear to both parties to set expectations properly.
  2. Be flexible and ask for what you need. If you need every day off between 9AM and 12PM, ask for it. You may find that you and your spouse can rotate days or even a few hours. Many find that they are more productive during the evening hours or very early morning hours. Once new hours are set, put in on the schedule.
  3. Reevaluate. You are trying new ways of working. Give it your best. If it does not work, try something new.
  4. Remember that these hardships are temporary. Additionally, the challenges become less burdensome as you develop healthy coping skills - big or small.
  5. Let go of perfection. Instead of perfection, shoot for prioritization. Sometimes, just getting food on the table is enough.

Empathy for All

Although parents have a unique set of challenges during this pandemic, it is important to show empathy for the needs of all of your team members - parents or not. These tools can and should be used any time a team member is going through a hard time. For some, 2020 has not been their hardest year.These best practices open the lines of communication to innovate solutions together before someone has to debate leaving the organization to make their work and home life balance. We need each member of our team and they must have trust within the organization for long term benefit.Reach out today for a technological Assessment from one of our tech experts! At TECKpert, we help organizations perform at their highest level through digital transformations with a contingent workforce.