For me, working from home is usually a Friday routine. While I enjoy being in the office the other four workdays, Fridays are a treat. I have a leisurely morning, drinking coffee while I admire the flowers and listen to the birds chirping. I’m relaxed. The kids are at daycare and pre-k. I’m ready for the weekend!
However, this is not the situation I find myself in now. A good portion of international employees are working at home (our entire office has that option), and most of their children are home as well. Our 4-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son are home with us and have been for the last two (plus) months.
I still have work to do. I have projects to manage. How do I do my regular job as well as parent two kids who need care and reassurance that everything is going to be ok? Both are important.
I can tell you I’m no expert, and I haven’t figured this out perfectly, but here’s what I’m doing that’s working for our family and my remote teams so far.
1. Be Flexible
With yourself, with everyone on your team, and with your family. We are all struggling in our own ways right now. So, as much as possible, show grace. Give your projects some breathing room. Let your team know you have their back and can give a little extra time to finish a project. Stop mid-email and give your little one a hug if they need it. You can make up your work time by getting up a little early or working a bit after the kids are in bed if you need to. Sometimes, the most important thing is to be in the moment and responsive to the needs of the moment.
2. Communicate Regularly
Since you’re not face-to-face, you’re going to rely on emails and video calls a lot more. That’s fine! We’re all doing the same thing. Send a weekly roundup of what was done that week so everyone’s up to speed. Schedule a video chat to get some face time with your team every other week. And don’t get right down to business. Check on how they’re doing personally. Show them you care. If appropriate, let your child wave to your team on the Hangout and see what mommy or daddy does for work. My teams have enjoyed these spontaneous kid “pop-ins” — it’s nice to see each other’s families and homes and show our humanity during a time when anxiety is higher than normal.
3. Keep Track of Deadlines
More than ever, with our brains scattered trying to keep up with everything, it’s crucial to keep your calendar up-to-date. And if you’re like me, your calendar is a mix of home reminders and work deadlines. Having it all in one place will hopefully prevent you from forgetting anything important! And if you do miss something, apologize and do your best to make it right. Forgive yourself and move on.
4. Take Breaks
If your work schedule allows it, take short breaks throughout the day. The sunshine (if you are lucky enough to have nice weather!) does wonders for your mood. The Vitamin D break will help you and your children refocus, have some fun, and then feel better about getting back to work. You might even be able to get a nap out of your kids if they burn up some energy! Enjoy the outdoors and the time together. And when you’re with your family, try to focus on them. Don’t’ be on your phone the whole time! You’ll get back to your email soon.
I have had some emotional moments during the quarantine. But it’s so important to remember that this isn’t forever. Breathe. Relax. Drink some tea. Make a list of things you’re thankful for. Journal. Stretch. Take care of yourself and your family so you can focus on work when you need to. If you’re stressed out, it’s going to be a lot harder to do anything well.
We all have to make adjustments to managing teams and households right now. I hope you’re doing well. Do you have tips to share with me? Please comment here with what you’ve found works well (or doesn’t!).
Laura Lee – SEO Director, Account Manager