There’s no question that working from home has its perks: Commutes have been eliminated. Pets have never been happier.
There’s also no question that working from home has a downside: The separation between work and life has been eliminated. Working parents have never been more exhausted.
Parenting and working from home during a global pandemic feels like living at work. As difficult as commutes can be, they provide a respite – a bridge between work and home. That bridge has been broken, at least for the time being.
[ Looking for kid-friendly tech activities? Read: Programmable tanks and Raspberry Pi: Try these kids tech projects. ]
3 things working parents want you to know
To everyone out there who is parenting and working from home, I see you. I hear you. I am you.
To everyone working with work-at-home parents during the global pandemic, here are three things we wish you knew:
1. We want to be good parents. We care about our kids. We want to be great parents but in the midst of a global pandemic, we would settle for being good parents. Ask us about our kids. Acknowledge them when they pop into a Zoom call. Laugh when the little ones streak by in Zoom without any pants. Recognize that we aren’t on a vacation – we aren’t working less while everyone on the team works more. That brings me to number two.
2. We want to be good colleagues. We care about our jobs. We want to be great colleagues but in the midst of a global pandemic, we would settle for being good colleagues. One thing that would help? Reconsider meetings. Yes, video meetings can be great. We can connect and read body language and share a screen and all those other things that Zoom so proudly markets. But you know what you can’t do on video? Most things! Last week I did a coaching call with a leader while she was in the backyard while her toddler ran around. I did another coaching call from a parking lot while my son was at driver’s ed. Easy by phone, not so easy by video. Before you schedule a Zoom call, ask if it really has to use video.
3. We feel like we are failing at both. It’s never been harder to keep it all together. Between all the Zoom meetings and emails and homeschooling, it feels like being crushed by a wave and not being able to catch our breath. We are treading water and we are exhausted. We are afraid of letting you down, and we are afraid of letting our kids down. Give us feedback. Tell us when we are awesome and tell us when something could have gone better. Invite us to be part of the solution.
Questions that can help
But most importantly? Be curious. Recognize that we are all different and what works for one of us may not work for the rest of us. If you’re not sure where to start, here are some questions that can help:
- How can I support you?
- How can this team support you?
- What time of day would work best for you to meet about ___?
- If you could take something off your plate, what would it be?
There is no shortage of stress in the world right now. Let’s do all we can to make our work teams a source of support and not a constant source of stress.
[ Can you ask for a raise during a pandemic? Yes, read: How to ask for a raise during COVID-19. ]