In an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus, most companies have enabled their workforces to work from home. What they haven’t provided a solution for is how to work from home with kids.
Infants and toddlers arguably require the most hands-on attention and care, but kids of all ages change the dynamics of what it means to work from home successfully.
To be the most productive while working from home during the pandemic with kids, try implementing these five tips.
- Have a designated work area. If possible, a designated room or home office is best. If you don’t have the extra space, set up a section of the dining room or another area of the house where you can leave your workspace set up. For kids, it’s helpful for them to know when you’re “at work,” even if you’re not physically leaving the house. It’s also a good idea to communicate your availability with signs, like “Open” or “Closed” when you’re on calls or working on a deadline.
- Divide and conquer childcare. In most households, both spouses are working from home right now. Work with your partner to come up with a schedule that works for both of you and the kids. Take into account naptimes, if applicable, which can serve as great blocks of time to be productive. Or, if you already have someone coming to your home to help with childcare, establish times when you’re available and when you’re not while working from home.
- Set a schedule. Just like you would if you were going into the office, it’s good to have a routine, especially during these otherwise unpredictable and uncertain times. Kids also respond well when there is structure. Work in stints and have times that you dedicate towards being with your kids during and after your workday. For instance, if you typically eat lunch at your desk, consider having lunch with your kids, or breaking in the afternoon during snack time. Set expectations by setting a schedule.
- Communicate your plan. The routine you come up with might be fluid to start, but as you zero in on what works for you and your family, communicate your plan to your colleagues, your spouse and your children. The more everyone understands what your work-from-home plan is, the more everyone can support you as you balance work and family while working remotely.
- Set them up for success. Depending on their ages, you can include your kids in your workday. For instance, setting them up with a desk near yours, or showing them what you’re working on and assigning them a variation of it so they can try their hand at what you do. Setting them up for success might also look like making up snack bins or designating an area of the refrigerator that is self-serve and that they can access independently throughout the day. Again, depending on their ages, self-sufficiency is key to a successful work-from-home arrangement.