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How Workplaces Can Support Working Parents

Ember Conley offers suggestions for companies that have employees with children at home.

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The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in lockdowns that have left many people working from home. For single parents, this situation has become especially stressful. In addition to their work tasks, they’re trying to supervise their children. As their employer, there are a few small things you can do to help.

Be Flexible With Hours

Your employee may benefit from the ability to do their work later in the evenings, or earlier in the mornings. While your business’ productivity may rely on time-sensitive tasks, looking for different ways for single parents on your staff to meet those responsibilities will be helpful. Trying to work out a schedule that meets everyone’s needs will be appreciated, and it will help keep morale high through this situation.

Recognize the Need for Reduced Productivity

Ember Conley realizes that transitioning from working in the office to working from home is difficult for everyone. On top of having to care for children all day, your employees probably don’t have access to the same equipment that’s available in the office. Recognizing these limitations, you should re-evaluate your productivity needs and try to relax them temporarily. Think of this as a training period in which everyone has to adjust to the new situation before they can get back up to speed.

Improve the Lines of Communication

Your employees are facing a sense of isolation on top of the stress of trying to work and parent at the same time. You should reach out more frequently just to check in with the single parents on your staff. They may need help but feel apprehensive about asking. Anticipating their needs and offering assistance can help them feel less stressed, so they’ll be better able to handle the situation.

Help Employees Set Boundaries

You can work with your single parent employees to help them create a schedule that works for them. In addition to allowing them more flexibility, counsel them on setting strict boundaries that they will enforce. This may involve dedicating blocks of time solely to child care, while other blocks of time are dedicated to work-related tasks. This will help ensure your employees are also taking time for themselves, which is equally important in reducing stress.

The Covid-19 lockdowns won’t last forever and, when they end, things will settle into the new normal. In the meantime, recognizing that this is an especially difficult situation for single parents can help you to make the situation easier for everyone.

The key to managing this challenging issue is the same as most others. Effective communication is the best way to set healthy boundaries on both sides of the work-life divide. On the one hand, it may be setting boundaries on noise levels and behaviors with family members. On the other side of that divide, it may be about having a boundary with co-workers. 

For example, Ember Conley believes that it’s appropriate for most workers to set their phones aside after a certain hour. For instance, it’s understandable that many 9-5 office workers wouldn’t be available late at night, except for real emergencies. Just because everyone is now working from home, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re working 24 hours a day.  Flexibility and responsiveness is key during this time.

This article was originally published at EmberConley.net.

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