We’ve all seen the meme; a parent on a video conference call while her two children are taped to the floor with the caption, “Working from home during COVID-19!”
We chuckle to ourselves and say, “YUP” as we continue to scroll. But as funny as the meme is, this is a stark reality for most parents navigating childcare, home schooling, and working during COVID-19.
We polled parents in our network and learned that employers are falling into 2 camps:
- Business as Usual Employers, and
- Post COVID-19 Employers.
What’s the difference?
|Business as Usual Employers||Post COVID-19 Employers|
|Expecting a full consecutive 8 hours||
Flexible schedule to meet childcare and partners work needs
|Time based expectations||Deliverable based expectations|
|Back to back meetings||Staggered meetings to accommodate child and partner schedules|
|Assigning full workload||Modified workload to reflect current crisis requirements|
Expect distraction free environment/make comments about dogs, children, or spouses they can see in the background
|Understand that partners, children, and pets are part of the deal right now and make employees comfortable with that|
For the Post COVID – 19 Employers, our network wants to thank you! Your employees are exceptionally grateful; the measures to accommodate your team are creating high employee engagement levels and loyalty. Good work!
For the Business as Usual Employers, here is the impact we are hearing:
- Parents are unable to meet the expectations set by their employer while also meeting childcare demands. This is causing additional stress and feelings of failure as both a parent and an employee.
- Parents of young children are forced to put their children back into childcare facilities (provided they are still open), to meet their employers needs and keep their jobs. Ultimately, reducing the efficacy of physical distancing.
- Parents of school aged children are frantically trying to find childcare which is causing stress and additional financial burden.
We get it – it’s complicated.
We understand that this situation is unprecedented and business profitability is important, however, in this already stressful time, it is important that businesses take a human approach and support their teams.
If you are a non-essential service, take the time to look at the Post COVID – 19 Employer list and determine if there are any adaptations you can make to your own working environment which can reduce COVID-19’s impact to your team.
What if we are an essential service?
If you are an essential service and cannot offer as much flexibility, here are some ways that you can support parents working during COVID-19:
- Do What You Can: As an essential service employer, you may not have the luxury to do everything that a Post COVID-19 Employer can, but you may be able to make some minor changes. See the list above and determine what you can adapt to make your teams transition a bit easier.
- Offer Childcare Support: While school is out, finding/paying for childcare is difficult and expensive. If
you cannot provide financial support to your team directly, assist your team members find child care or make them aware of any government assistance programs such as the Emergency Child Care Program (British Columbia) which are intended to provide temporary emergency child care for essential workers.
- Communicate: Though you may be restricted in what you can do, help your team to feel supported by communicating what you are doing on the backend. They may not understand why you are not able to make the changes that they are seeing from other employers and may not be recognizing the small adaptations you are making. We know you are VERY busy, but it is more important than ever to take the time and be transparent with your team.
- Adapt Social Norms: If your essential team is working remotely, don’t make it awkward when your team member’s dog walks in the room during a video conference or when you hear a baby in the background. While this may not have been appropriate previously, embrace this as the new normal. Let them know you are in the same boat and that reassure them that this is OK. We are all in this together.