Over the past year, parents who were lucky enough to work from home have been performing a juggling act attempting to meet deadlines while keeping their kids safe and educating them.
Even though many parents appreciate the flexibility of working from home because it allows them to be more present in their children’s lives, there is a lot to navigate as a remote employee who also has kids.
As the remote team manager, it’s essential to support your work from home employees who are parents of small children or older kids that need homeschooling. It’s essential to start by understanding that things won’t always be smooth, but the good news is that there are a couple of strategies to help your employees who work remotely deal with the situation a bit better.
Here are the best ways to help employees who work from home while also being parents.
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1. Let parents be flexible
Flexibility is crucial for parents working from home. This means that as a manager, you should allow for flexible schedules. If you can, enable parents to set their own hours, so they have time to serve lunch, troubleshoot online schooling snags when necessary, and share kid duty with their partners.
You can also choose to offer more paid time off and reduced hours for employees with family obligations such as childcare and homeschooling. You may also reconsider job sharing as a sustainable way to keep your employees with your company longer.
2. Help parents connect
Parents often feel alone with the added weight of homeschooling their children, especially in those workplaces where there aren’t many other parents. This is why it’s important to find ways for parents at your company to have a safe space to communicate.
For example, you can create a dedicated Slack channel where they can offer each other advice, cheer one another on, or simply commiserate.
But just as important as it is for parents to connect, it’s also vital for them to disconnect from work. Don’t assume the parents are available to play virtual games for teambuilding during their lunch hour, for example. This means that you should be aware they might not the as present in the non-work activities of the company as non-parents.
3. Boost childcare benefits
One of the best ways to offer support to remote workers who have kids is to provide them with childcare benefits. You could provide childcare support, which may also buy you a tax break, or offer discounts on tutoring and schoolwork help. Some companies offer flexible spending accounts to their employees, saving parents around 30% on child care expenses.
4. Offer emotional support
Sometimes, all it takes for parents to come back from the verge of a breakdown is a bit of emotional support. By offering empathy and reassuring parents that everything is going to be okay, you’ll contribute to the mental well-being of your employees. By communicating that you believe in them, you will reinforce your employees’ belief in themselves. Sometimes, that’s all someone needs to find the strength they need to rise to the occasion.
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5. Focus on the results instead of routines
Employees who work from home while parenting need a lot of flexibility to be successful. This means that you will need to sacrifice some of the control over when and how they complete their tasks.
By allowing increased flexibility to employees who are also parents, you show them that you care, and you’ll motivate them at the same time. If your employees are producing quality work and they generally get the job without missing deadlines, it shouldn’t matter whether they are working at 2 a.m. or sending emails over the weekend.
6. Be flexible when it comes to meetings
Meetings are one of the aspects of remote working that separate parents from non-parents. The Internet is full of fun videos of kids interrupting Zoom meetings or even their dad who was just trying to do a live political report for the BBC.
As a remote team manager, you need to understand that kids will sometimes barge into video calls because not everyone has a dedicated home office. Always try to give parents a minute to deal with the kids, an if they can’t do it, reschedule the meeting for later.
You should always avoid frustration in these situations, and if the kid is old enough, you can say hi and interact with them a bit. This will offer them a chance to learn a bit about their parent’s work and will put everyone at ease.
7. Cut down the meetings
As you’ve already seen in the paragraph above, meetings are difficult for parents, particularly because time is a scarce resource for them. As such, make sure that all the meetings you request are actually about decisions that need a meeting. It goes without saying that not every small decision requires a meeting.
You can eliminate the need for a meeting by making decisions happen over chat, email, or in the comment sections of shared documents. Working asynchronously is in fact one of the reasons remote workplaces can function so efficiently.
If a decision seems to get stuck, you may need to escalate to a live meeting, but most of the time, video calls are only necessary for the real important stuff.
Supporting your employees who work remotely with kids at home takes many forms. Never overlook the importance of community, and keep in mind that parents are up against massive challenges these days. Try to commit to supporting parents any way you can and they’ll reward you and the company with increased motivation and productivity.
Search Remotely works directly with employers looking to hire international remote talent and employees who work remotely have the opportunity to upskill and get hired.