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Working from home is a new challenge for many people at the moment. But as people fire up their home computers across the globe, it’s become abundantly clear that it’s easier for some people than others. One group of people with a particularly heavier workload are parents.
We caught up with some of the parents at SocialTalent, who told us about their challenges, and shared some tips to help other parents maybe working from home for the first time.
As a parent, what are the biggest challenges when you’re working from home?
“There’s an expectation that because you are present in the home, you will be available as needed. Of course you want to interact with the kids and take time out to be with them, but then when you are busy they can’t appreciate why you don’t always play.” Vincent O’Donoghue, CRO & co-founder
“Kids demand attention and just shout louder if they don’t get it. Mine are too young to understand I need to work. The house is a mess and that is hard when you are all living in it. Balancing work is the hardest, as you are minding the kids full time as well.” Claire Buckley, Senior Enterprise Relationship Manager
“One thing that has come up in my house is that almost everyone working remotely seems to have a daily meeting at the same time in the morning. This is tough if there are two parents trying to simultaneously have virtual meetings when there are kids bouncing off the walls.” Pete Ainsley, Strategic Accounts Manager
“As a single parent, working from home is not as easy as you think. My 2 year old who doesn’t really understand why mummy can’t play peekaboo while she’s on a call with her boss, and that’s pretty much a bomb that can explode at any time.” Gabby Ziolkowska, Sales Operations Analyst
“Sharing the load whilst making sure that you get your job done. It’s really difficult if both parents work from home. If one isn’t working, that person still needs regular breaks and help.” Johnny Campbell, CEO & co-founder
What’s helped you fulfil your duties as a parent, while also getting your work done?
“Exercise! I go for a run before work most mornings and take the dog for a walk in the evening, it really helps to clear my head. I would struggle without it, and maintaining a routine is essential!” Ian Allen, Strategic Lead – Finance & Consultancy
“An amazing wife who is also a teacher. To be fair, I’m kind of really lucky there. Works out brilliantly. Also, I’m lucky to have a spare room at the top of the house where I’m locked away without noise or distractions.” Johnny Campbell, CEO & co-founder
“I get up at 6am and have some quiet time to get through bits and pieces. Skype calls with colleagues help too as you see the people you are used to working with everyday.” Claire Buckley, Senior Enterprise Relationship Manager
“Planning an agreed schedule with them. I explain that I’m working, and when they see me ‘dressed’ for work they treat me differently than if I was dressed casually.” Michelle O’Connor, Curriculum Director
“My office is separate to the house at home this allows for a clear division of work and home life. I am also more or less a spare wheel in family duties with the exception of sports and fun stuff. Quote from my wife, “It is so much easier when you are not here” – I think I disrupt the routine!” Vincent O’Donoghue, CRO & co-founder
Any tips to share with other parents who are working from home for the first time?
“My son practises writing when I am on the laptop so he feels he is working too. You need to take breaks and dedicate your full attention to them during that time so they get their fix. Get some fresh air, too!” Claire Buckley, Senior Enterprise Relationship Manager
“Write down what tasks have to be done and finished the next day. Be realistic – smaller but consistent steps are better in the long run. Trello or Quip are great tools for that.
Be honest if you are struggling. I’m very lucky with my manager, who’s very understanding. If someone in your support network offers to help you in any way – making dinner, taking your child for a walk, doing the grocery shopping – TAKE IT!” Gabby Ziolkowska, Sales Operations Analyst
“Put a plan in place, schedule time to leave the house for a 20 min walk with the kids. Let them know that they can have down time or time on their devices after 3pm. Leave the house for another walk at 5.30pm to connect with them.” Michelle O’Connor, Curriculum Director
“Take breaks to see the kids and help your partner if you’re not already both working from home. Get out for a run or walk or cycle before everyone wakes up. You need “you” time and you’re unlikely to get it once everyone is up! Also, go easy on the wine and beer. Yes, we’re all counting down to wine o’clock when we’re stuck in the house together but too much won’t help!” Johnny Campbell, CEO & co-founder
“Having a quiet room to work is essential. That said, I’ve been on a few calls where kids are present and if anything, it makes the conversation more personal. We’re all in the same boat. Go easy on yourself!” Ian Allen, Strategic Lead – Finance & Consultancy