With Australia going into partial lockdown this week, and many parents being advised to keep their kids home from school until further notice, this means trying to navigate working from home… with kids (WFHWK).
At Loren Mitchell HR Consultants, we navigate these murky waters each day, so we have collated a list of expert tips for working from home with kids.
As schools begin to close their doors, parents and children are faced with a totally new circumstance.
- The key priority is around managing expectations – yours and theirs.
- Have a family meeting at the beginning of lockdown to make your children aware of the importance of you getting work done, and for them continuing to learn. Be clear about what you need from them and when those uninterrupted times are most important.
- Dedicate a specific office workspace where you can close the door (if safe to do so). Let your kids make a ‘do not disturb sign’ and explain to them what it means. Hang it on your office door during meetings (they will remember it’s importance if they make it). If your kids are not yet old enough to read, create this sign in pictures.
- Be realistic about what you can achieve, prioritise those things, and make a list of the things which are unachievable (run these by your manager too of course).
- Let your team know your current situation and what will be feasible for you, as well as the possibility of a delay in responses. Chances are they are probably in a similar position. Being supportive and understanding during this time is vital for all working teams.
- Set guidelines/rules with your kids that when the office door is closed, there is to be limited noise. Obviously, kids will still want to play but try to limit noise as much as possible and always have your hand ready to click the mute button on your devices.
- If you have a child with high needs, it’s critical to note that the expectations of your work volume need to be considered, so discuss this openly with your manager.
Organise a daily family WIP
We recommend having a family meeting each morning, just as you would have with your working team. This is a great opportunity to discuss things like:
- What is on the agenda today for you.
- Activities they can do, and at what times. See this collection of lock-down activities for kids.
- Who looks after who and when.
- What constitutes an emergency and warrants interrupting.
- Ensuring everyone has input and feels included/heard.
TIP: During breakfast is a great time for this morning family meeting. We recommend sticking the daily schedule on the fridge so they can refer back to it throughout the day.
Create a practical schedule – and stick to it
Children, and employees, thrive on a solid routine. We recommend creating a schedule which in many ways, replicates the school hours. Here is an example:
Ask for help!
During stressful times, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you can, ask someone to look after your kids during some of your working days.
Further to this, do not be afraid to reach out to your manager and/or HR manager for extra support, to try and find a better solution or additional help at this time. We understand this is a stressful time for both employers and employees, so practicing compassion and understanding is the best way to get through this challenge stronger and better than ever.
From our team at LMRH Consulting, we wish you all a healthy, safe, calm and productive time through this period. We are all in this together.
For any advice or questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us for help at firstname.lastname@example.org