The term “working parent” is really the understatement of the year for parents who have been thrust into remote working because of office closures while their children are doing school virtually due to the pandemic. While these measures are helping us stay physically healthy, our mental health is taking a toll as our workload and personal responsibilities rack up and compete for top priority.
So how can we as employers help lighten the load and keep our employees comfortable enough to be engaged, productive and focused on their jobs? We’re glad you asked.
Here are a few tactics you can easily adopt into your company’s remote working routines that may seem small, but make a world of difference.
Adopt flexible scheduling
As school departments become more solidified in how they’ll do virtual schooling, regimented schedules and agendas are appearing before students and parents. Kids have to sign onto certain meetings at different times during the day. Plus, they need help with assignments, meals, snacks and anything else that may come up when a child is home. This is all happening when the parent is still expected to be working full-time.
By adopting flexible work schedules, you’re letting your employees with children adapt to what the coronavirus is throwing at them – which is basically a completely unpredictable calendar of events. This will put less pressure on them to complete their work within the confines of 9-5 (or whatever your schedule may be), ensure one child logs in to math class on time and the other one gets their sneakers on before signing into PE.
Set boundaries around this if you’re feeling a little uncomfortable with allowing this type of freedom. For example, work hours may be anytime between 8 am through 8 pm Monday – Friday. This still gives your teammates the freedom to set their schedules. Plus, colleagues now know when they can expect to see them online and assisting one another.
And know this: work flexibility will not only give your employees better control over their schedules, it’ll also likely lead to higher engagement and longer tenures, too.
Help out with grocery shopping or food delivery
In a busy parent’s life, something as small as someone else doing the grocery shopping and bringing it to their door can be a huge relief. There are plenty of services, whether your employees live in rural or urban settings, that can do just that for them.
From Shipt, to UberEats or DoorDash for meals, sending your employees a gift card to these services can help knock a few things off of their list this week. Plus, it’ll give them the extra time they need to successfully help their child with school while nailing that tight deadline.
If you’re not sure exactly what services to provide, you can create a small “miscellaneous stipend” budget baked into payroll that employees can use to make their lives a little easier during the pandemic.
Create a #Parents channel in Slack or your messaging platform
Nothing builds bonds faster than people going through the same situation in the same place. Allowing the parents in your group to have a place to blow off steam, share ideas or just have a good laugh together lets them build camaraderie during a really unusual time in history. And as we’ve seen, strong bonds at work can lead to reduced turnover, higher productivity and a better sense of employee well-being.
Sometimes, you just need a good friend and a good joke about toddler life to get you through the day while remote working.
Provide time for your teams’ kids to get together virtually
Kids love seeing new and familiar faces, yet the pandemic has stopped many new friendships for them.
By providing a Friday afternoon remote-working Kids’ Zone Zoom Chat, or hosting a multiplayer video game challenge, you’re giving kids an outlet to talk with one another and socialize, and you’re also giving parents a small break from finding activities to keep their younger children occupied, too.
Kick this off by asking the parents on your team what might be best so you can easily choose age-appropriate activities.
Encourage taking time off
At Kin, we are big believers in using the PTO you’re given – even when there’s not a global pandemic unfolding around us.
Studies show that when time off is used, it positively impacts employee productivity and engagement.
However, it may not be something your employees feel comfortable taking right now when they know they can’t go far from home. Instead, encourage them to use the time to just relax at home, catch up with family or, heck, really lean into that Netflix binge.
Time away from work helps us do better work, even when we work remotely. We earn it, we deserve it, we need to take it no matter what 2020 throws at us.
Promote mindfulness while working remotely
In a time where we feel like we have little control over much, being able to focus ourselves on what matters is key. Promoting mindfulness in the workplace can have a multitude of benefits.
In fact, several studies now show that mindfulness leads to more self-confidence in leaders, greater autonomy and a higher sense of well-being in the workplace.
You can promote mindfulness in a variety of ways. Calm, a meditation app, has a company plan that allows you to add users. This app lets users pick their meditation style, and “builds up” their mindfulness through different guided meditations.
You can also create space for people to be mindful throughout the day. Start by asking thought-provoking questions that bring them back to the hear and now, such as “How did you feel coming into work today? What about work made you happy today? What felt challenging and why?”
The deeper the conversation you have with your employee, the more in touch they’ll be with themselves and their success within the company.