Ushering the kids through the pandemic has been exhausting, worrisome, and disorienting for parents. Facilitating a routine that includes mask-wearing, extra hand washing, and social distancing continues to be taxing. Acclimating children to online education has been a whole new challenge. Adhering to these demands while learning to work remotely or to incorporate pandemic protocols at work is a lot to manage.
If you feel like you’re thinking through the fog this summer, you’re not alone. It’s been a tough stretch. Parents have been troopers. You’ve weathered ongoing change, implemented for your households, and explained what it all means to your kids. That’s a hefty load-logistically, physically, and emotionally.
When you learn that changes are coming to your workplace and that your employer may soon be going hybrid, it may cause you to panic a bit. Just when it looks like the kids might be able to return to school and you can finally have the house to yourself again, another big change to implement.
But hybrid work can be a good fit for working parents. It can help you achieve that work-life balance we’ve all been targeting. Here’s what you need to know about going hybrid.
What does this mean?
A hybrid schedule means you’ll have some days in the office and some days at home. This is good because it enables you to get the best out of both modes of operation. That includes having in-person meetings and chats (remember those!) with your colleagues and managers. Plus, you’ll also get that sweet crunch time in your home office to focus on the projects that require your undivided attention and concentration.
As you know by now, some work is hard to get done from your home base. Yes, you can meet via Zoom, but no one relishes hanging out via Zoom, and you learn a lot of important details simply by socializing with your colleagues. Brainstorms, informal chats, unexpected run-ins all happen when you’re in the office. You need those interactions to trigger new ideas, challenge you to think about things differently and loop you into what others have on their plates. These encounters create cohesion on a team, plus they make professional life fun!
Many companies are finding their happy medium with hybrid arrangements, which means finding a balance between time spent in the office and remote work. The hybrid model seems a fitting one for employees; a recent Glassdoor survey, conducted online by The Harris Poll, reveals that nearly 9 in 10 (86%) employees say they prefer to continue working from home at least part of the time after their offices reopen.
Even though it may feel hard right now to stomach the idea of more change, a hybrid arrangement stands to be a positive change that accommodates the demands of professional life and the challenges of parenthood.
Remote work lessons.
Working remotely taught us about our work habits and preferences, outside the parameters of the typical workday. “During the past many months of at-home work, employees have become more acquainted with their unique learning and performance profiles.” Explains Pablo Listingart, Founder of ComIT. “Employees have had the opportunity to experiment with different approaches to daily tasks, scheduling, and workplace environment. Some team members have learned, for the first time, that having an uninterrupted block of focus in the morning is highly beneficial to their workplace performance. Others have noticed that their deep-thought work—coding, problem-solving, designing—is best done at night when the kids are in bed and the email inbox is quiet.”
Listingart points to this newly discovered self-awareness as a benefit that employees earned during the pandemic. “The flexibilities of remote work have contributed to these learnings, and not only will employers want to encourage the behaviors that keep their team members performing at their best, but they’ll also almost inevitably see a drop in workplace satisfaction if that newfound freedom is lost,” Listingart explains.
What we learned about our own productivity is an asset that can help us as hybrid workers. Listingart explains that “employees know when their brain works best depending on the task at hand.” This awareness can help you manage your workload as a hybrid operator.
“The flexibility of a hybrid schedule could drastically improve work-life balance by allowing employees to dedicate the section of their working day at which they’re most efficient to the task that’s most pressing, and requires the most brainpower.” Listingart advises. “That self-led efficiency can reduce the time it takes to perform the task, while also improving the performance and contributing to a higher sense of job satisfaction. This is especially true in the case of working parents, who know when their attention is primed for deep thought work versus when their time is being pulled in too many directions. Flexible work schedules offer those employees the possibility to take charge of their schedule, prioritize their tasks, and customize their approach to work-life balance.”
How to manage this new arrangement.
Being successful as a remote operator means being a savvy self-manager and an excellent communicator. These are two skills that parenthood refines, and managing your family through the pandemic was a super course in honing both of these skills.
The key to success here is to turn your self-awareness into action plans. Think about what work you do best in your home office, and support that work with your in-office efforts. So, if you’re in sales and you need to meet with colleagues to inform the sales calls you make, use your in-office days for your meetings. Then make your calls from home.
Think about your in-office days like your fact-finding mission. Those are the days that you attend meetings, meet new colleagues, visit your mentor or mentees, talk to your boss, have lunch with your team. You’re out hunting and gathering information and details so that when you get back to your base, you can convert that info into deliverables like sales calls, written reports, or projects that require your focus and attention.
Embrace the flexibility because that’s what serves you and your family. Lean into the self-management and communication skills that will help you maximize your potential to deliver and own this arrangement. While it may seem daunting to get your mind around another change, you’re likely to find that it’s easier than the chaos you’ve been managing over the last 16 months. You’re primed for this. Keep thinking through how to make it your own.
Tips to make this arrangement work.
- “This is an opportune moment in the workforce, as employers and employees across virtually all sectors renegotiate the underlying assumptions that make up our corporate lives. During this time, the tip I would offer to every working parent is to commit to full transparency and open communication. In fact, I would suggest that those employees make communicating their needs to their employers one of their top priorities for the next few weeks.” Listingart advises.
- Get someone reliable to look after your kids when you’re working from home. Don’t try to care for your kids when you’re working remotely. That means working two jobs at the same time. It stands to make your feel burnt out and unsuccessful in both spheres. Set yourself up for success by getting the help and support you need in this arrangement.
- Don’t feel guilty-working parents bring mad skills to the workplace. Don’t feel sheepish for needing to take a sick day when your kids get sick or needing a couple of hours off to go to conferences at school. This is an important moment in the workforce. New mores are being forged. Productivity is more important than punching a time clock. Parents are powerhouses when it comes to productivity. The tradeoff is that they need to show up for their kids. That’s noble. Don’t allow yourself to feel guilty for having noble priorities. Recognize the value you bring and don’t beat up on yourself.
- Take care of yourself. For real. Get a coach or a therapist to help you emotionally balance your workload with your family life. Being a working parent is hard. It takes emotional discipline, clarity, and kindness towards yourself and others. Build time into your schedule for that self-care.
- Exercise every day; even if that’s just taking a walk. Recognize that you have to live in the routine that you create, then make something that truly serves you-physically, mentally, spiritually. No one benefits if you create a routine that burns you out.
- Learn how to say “no.” You can’t do it all and no one is asking you to. Create real parameters. Then live by them. Value and protect yourself.
A hybrid workplace can be an ideal fit for working parents. Take your time and think through how to make this arrangement work for you. Don’t forget to factor yourself-your needs and your health into the equation. Remember: you’re not just making this work. You’re also showing your kids how it’s done. Model balance. Model self-care. You’ve got this!6