Working from home is a challenge for many of us. Not being able to see your colleagues, pets wanting to participate in your video-meetings… But when you add kids into the mix, things can quickly spiral out of control. This is what I have learned as a parent working remotely during this difficult period.
We were very lucky as we were already well equipped for remote work. With Cloud-based systems, offices in multiple locations, and a strong, established culture of digital collaboration and virtual meetings, we were very well-positioned to face this enormous challenge of being fully remote.
But with schools and daycares closed, and without the possibility of employing a babysitter, we parents are all in a very tricky position. We all want to keep on working, be efficient. And we’re putting more pressure on ourselves than ever. We want to be a great employee and a great parent at the same time, but we can’t shake the feeling that we’re being bad at both!
The first thing we did was create an instant messaging channel dedicated to parents: #covid19parenting. The goal was to give parents a safe space to share their ideas, challenges, photos, tricks, recipes – and even their cries for help. After two weeks of remote work with kids, I can assure you that this channel is a life saver for me right now. My colleagues are so funny!
The second thing we did was put a wiki together with lots of useful information, advice and links to activities fit for toddlers to teenagers. It’s amazing how many museums can be virtually visited, and how many online learning activities you can find!
Finally, Coveo gave an extra 10 days off in addition to existing sick and vacation days and a catering allowance to help parents struggling between caring for their child and work duties.
After two weeks of this weird journey, here are my two key takeaways.
1. Organization and Flexibility are the Key
Families that invested the time to make a solid schedule were rapidly very glad they did! Things have been a little crazy, and I felt like the first week was just about surviving. It took me a very long time before deciding to take 30 of my precious minutes to really think about the best schedule I could put together and pin to my fridge for everyone to see (and comply with).
But even with the best schedule, things don’t always go as planned. You need to be flexible. But you also need the flexibility of your colleagues and of your managers. When we all started to work remotely, we decided on an availability emoji code on Slack to signal to your collaborators whether you were available to contact or otherwise occupied. It helps convey your reality to others.
This is my schedule: I work 2 hours in the morning, 3 hours in the afternoon during nap time, and 3 hours at night when the kids are sleeping. It’s far from an ideal one, but I’ve managed to stay pretty productive! And not one person at Coveo has complained, or made me feel like it or I wasn’t sufficient.
2. Lower your expectations
Don’t put too much pressure on your shoulders. Professionally speaking, and as cliché as this sounds, you NEED to prioritize. You always needed to, but now it’s your key to survival. Remember: it’s a marathon, not a sprint. And we have no idea how long this marathon is going to last.
We now have so many more meals to cook! But this can also be an opportunity to foster your children’s autonomy. Kids over 5 are able to serve themselves cereals or toasts… so you can enjoy a good cup of coffee! And lunch shouldn’t be more complicated than sandwiches or last night’s leftovers. So when you cook dinner, make more for tomorrow’s lunch! Pro tip: Ask your kids to set the table for breakfast before going to bed, and keep bread and cereals accessible for them to fetch by themselves.
Your house is not going to be perfectly clean at all times! If you were at the office, you wouldn’t be cleaning and doing laundry all day long, so why would you do so working from home? Book time in your calendar for cleaning, and use this time to do only what’s most important. And while it might drive you crazy to see toys everywhere, remember it’s completely useless to keep picking them up if the little ones haven’t gone to bed yet – they’ll be pulling them all out as soon as you put them away! But why not leverage your older kids, assign them chores or ask them to watch the younger ones for short periods of time?
Coveo Parents Speak
“For my children, it’s just a new normal. We are lucky enough to have kids who are quick to adapt to new changes. We build a routine together and see how it goes. We sit down and talk about what works, what doesn’t and what we can do better as a family. It helps that we live in a tech era that helps us stay connected to other friends and families easily.”
–Neldy Germain, senior visual producer, father of two
“I went through a bit of a social lockdown during my childhood where we experienced a super cyclone in the area where we lived. All I remember is all the fun I had with my parents during those stressful times and we imagine it will be the same with our daughter who is too young to understand everything happening around her. We’re taking it day by day, establishing a routine…virtual playdates and video calls with family help us stay sane but not everyday is the same, and we’ve realized that having a scoop of ice cream bang in the middle of the day can calm us all down instantaneously.”
Lipika Brahma, program manager – Customer Success Enablement, mother of a 2 ½ yr “hurricane” toddler.
You’d like to know more about how Coveo and other companies responded to this unprecedented crisis? Meet the Digital Heroes.