As a result of the coronavirus outbreak, at least 69,000 schools across the U.S. have been closed or are scheduled to close, according to Education Week. At the same time, businesses across the country are moving to remote working in attempts to increase social distancing. Suddenly, without much preparation, many workers are now adjusting to new ways of working and connecting – with the additional burden of caring for children and managing virtual learning.
As workers try to manage their new virtual work environment and home life here are 5 tips to help overcome potential challenges.
- A Schedule is Key: It is important to try and maintain the same schedule as you would on a normal school day – waking, eating and dressing at their normal time. Then, schedule much of your workday around online learning hours, naps or lunch hours. If you neglect to make the time to plan for how you will manage the multi-tasking coming your way, you may quickly become overwhelmed and fail to meet expectations at work or face working long into the night. It may also be helpful to create a schedule with your manager and teammates, outlining your availability for virtual meetings.
- Communication and Transparency are a Must: Particularly in today’s unprecedented environment, it’s ok to be transparent about the fact that you may be juggling the needs of your kids or caring for young children, so your boss and coworkers aren’t caught off guard. Communicate to your boss and colleagues candidly about your unique circumstances and reiterate your commitment to your job, despite the circumstances. Let them know what obstacles you may face while remote working.
- Set Boundaries: While you can’t plan for everything, it’s vital to set boundaries with your kids, particularly school-aged. Have your children participate in creating signs you put on your office door, such as stop and go or green and red light. Explain why you have asked them to create the signs, using it as an opportunity to share when it’s ok and not ok to come in. Also, be sure they know what constitutes an “emergency” and what does not. In addition, you may find it helpful to loosen some boundaries on watching TV or playing video games in order to keep them occupied – just be very clear that this is a special and unique situation, and temporary.
- Engage Your Partner: If you will be working alongside a spouse or partner, it’s critical to discuss how you will balance childcare or other home tasks. You’ll both need to be open to changing up normal responsibilities and routines in this new setting. If you don’t plan, one or both of you may get frustrated and blame your partner for not being supportive. Consider potential benefits of working alongside one another, such as alternating childcare shifts to make working remotely smoother.
- Take Care of Yourself: Maintaining your health and wellbeing is paramount right now. That means getting enough sleep, eating well, staying hydrated and taking breaks. You may feel pressure to overwork to prove you’re still productive but taking breaks for lunch or self-care is a must. In fact, 90% of American workers say that taking a lunch break helps them feel refreshed and read to get back to work. Beyond a lunch break, schedule shorter breaks throughout the day to interact with your kids, take a hot shower or meditate.
You’ll Make it Through.
Despite this new pandemic culture being one of the most disruptive events in our lifetime, where parents and children are forced to adjust to a new rhythm of school and work at home, it can be done. With a little bit of planning and a shift in your mindset, you can successfully work from home and take care of the children at the same time.