Suddenly a lot of people are working from home and, for those not used to remote working, adjusting to the change can be unsettling. For many, with schools, creches, colleges and workplaces closed as a result of coronavirus, they’re sharing their work-space with children, which can cause all sorts of problems when it comes to balancing home working with home life. It’s all about finding the balance between the two – being as productive at home as you would be in the office, but also keeping your children occupied and up-to-date with school work.
Welcome to remote work UK
Covid-19 has meant that many companies have already rolled out mandatory work-from-home policies, so home work is becoming the norm during lockdown for much of the UK workforce. A few simple but effective homeworking tips, are planning ahead, making a schedule and communicating what’s needed with your partner, your boss and your children. If there are two of you working at home, start by discussing the sharing of duties. After this, you should be able to put a shared schedule in place.
It’s a good idea to have regular ‘meetings’ ideally in the evening to agree a plan for the following day. Make sure you have mechanisms in place to know the details of any home work or schoolwork that has to be done and by when. Then agree on activities children can pursue when schoolwork is finished – so they aren’t interrupting your own work schedule.
If both of you are working full-time from home, it can be extremely difficult to avoid interruptions, but one idea is to stagger the times when you and your partner are ‘on call’ to deal with children issues. Have meal times planned well in advance. This can save time on unnecessary shopping trips. Depending on the age of your kids, you and your partner may have to alter your work hours in order to deliver the required care throughout the day. This may require working in the evening instead of the morning, starting work earlier than usual – before the kids wake. The key to all of this is good planning.
Treat home working like a ‘real job’
Of course, you’ll discuss your remote working arrangements with your employer too (along with colleagues you may be collaborating with). Make sure you’re fully aware of what’s expected of you during this time. Let them know when you will, and won’t, be available. If you don’t think you can meet targets or need to adapt timescales, say so at the outset. And if you run into any problems along the way, ask for help.
Establish a proper work environment. If you don’t have a spare room to use as an office, try to cordon off an area for work, where children are not allowed. The parent ‘on call’ can do what they can from the kitchen table, while the other works in a spare room, or bedroom.
Finally, sit down with your children and let them know why this is all happening and what they can do to help. Ask them for ideas and what they’d like to do while you’re working. This will encourage them to respect the new working arrangements. Just be aware that, inevitably, there will be emergencies and interruptions. Try to remain patient and level-headed. The more stressed you get, the more your work will be affected.
Much will depend on your personal circumstances, the age of your children and the type of work you perform, but with good planning, you can survive mixing home work and childcare. You may even start to enjoy it. The hope too is that employers see the benefit of remote working and we continue to see an increased shift to home working throughout the UK.
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