The average office-based worker may find the transition to working from home to be challenging enough. After all, you’re surrounded by potential distractions, tempted by your fridge and comfy bed, and loneliness creeps. Then you throw children into the mix, and it’s a whole new level of chaos.
Parents, take heed—if you find yourself suddenly at home with your laptop, your child(ren), and a calendar full of video meetings, take a deep breath and face the day with gusto. We have five tips to help you maximize your productivity as a remote worker while also keeping your young ones happy (and quiet) during your workday.
1. Create a separate work space.
If your home is also your workplace, try and keep your work in a separate room. This will allow for a psychological, as well as a physical, division between your personal and work lives. This will also make it much easier for you to leave work “at work” at the end of the day so you can focus on your family.
If you’re not the primary caregiver on any given day and someone else is on hand playing that role, SHUT THE DOOR (if possible)! Retreat to your separate room and set up your remote office. Revel in the distant hum of someone else attending to your children’s needs, and delight in the fact that you can simply pop in your earphones and get some quality work done!
2. Plan your day carefully.
If you know your children are going to be at home when you’re working, be realistic about what you can get done—and when. Plot each workday out in advance—how about the night before?—and stick to it. Otherwise, you might start to feel like you’re going to lose it with multiple deadlines looming and Play-Doh and soccer balls hurtling by.
If you share your childcare with a partner or a childcare provider, plan to do your best work when your children are being looked after or entertained out of sight. If you can schedule some downtime throughout the day to spend with your munchkins, all the better. You might just go back to work feeling refreshed, while your children may also feel sated enough to give you some quiet time to get your work done (maybe).
3. Schedule some time for yourself.
Working from home while trying to balance childcare and family time can be exhausting. Make sure you give yourself some time to unwind. Sometimes this may mean scheduling a free block of time on your calendar so you remember to follow through, but that’s ok—this mental break is crucial for your sanity!
Tip: Try to incorporate movement into your break to boost your energy and ward off the dreaded afternoon slump—do some yoga, walk the dog, or, better yet, play with the kids. They’ll love being with you, and you’ll feel better about focusing on work for the rest of the afternoon. As a bonus, perhaps they’ll be tuckered out and ready for a nap afterward.
4. Be upfront about your predicament.
No doubt many of you have been in the cringeworthy position of doing your best to conduct a work call with your little people wreaking havoc in the background. Some of you may have hit the next level of embarrassment—joining a video meeting only to have your children take the limelight.
The best thing you can do in these situations is to be upfront and honest about your tricky predicament. You’ll find that most people on your call have also been there or will at least understand it’s not the easiest situation to be in. And as your son/s or daughter/s starts taking their crayons to your laptop screen while singing their ABCs at the top of their lungs, you might just find your rapport with colleagues or customers gets a little bit stronger. We’re all human, after all!
When all else fails and you feel like you’re really not going to have a constructive call, you can use a team messaging app, such as RingCentral, to let your colleagues know in real time that now is not the best time.
5. Be prepared for anything.
As you’re well aware, anything can happen when children are thrown into what should be a professional and organized setting. Whatever it is that keeps your children distracted, keep it on hand as an emergency back-up: a tablet loaded with your child’s favorite games (I know the parenting gods will not be happy, but needs must), cartoons paused on your TV, sticker books, and lots of snacks. Preparation is key!
Of course, none of the above matters unless you have the right technology. Click here to learn more about how RingCentral makes collaboration effortless through every channel by combining the three pillars of communication—voice, video, and team messaging—into one seamlessly integrated platform that also includes contact center.
Originally published Mar 13, 2020, updated Dec 30, 2022