Remote work has been steadily growing in the past decade, according to research by Flexjobs. With more advanced technologies, companies found that not only does remote work increase job satisfaction, but it is also good for business because it helps increase employee productivity. These are just a few of the benefits that come with remote work, so it’s no surprise if you or your company is considering it.
Remote Work For Parents
Remote work is certainly enticing for single employees. However, for many parents, it can be intimidating. When you have an infant or a toddler, home is chaotic. Whether they have needs or whims, kids simply do not adhere to their parents’ work schedules. Being employed full-time and being a parent is hard enough when you have to report to an office. Doing both of these at home, as you can imagine, is quite tricky.
Remote work has its own set of challenges. As always, the goal is to maintain a healthy work-life balance. This will keep both aspects of your life, as well as your kids, happy and healthy. Here are the best ways to achieve remote work-life balance for parents.
Create A Home Office
When you’re a full-time remote employee, using your dining table as a workspace is simply not enough. Dedicate a room or area with a physical divider for work. This area can be inside or outside the house—it depends on what’s available and what you prefer. What is important is that you set up a room that is clearly separate from the rest of your home.
Teach your family to respect this area as your workspace. Establish a boundary. This place should allow you to work without distraction.
- Some remote working parents have started using signs to signal to their kids (and nannies) when they are busy and cannot be disturbed. Ask your kids to make a simple “stop” and “go” sign so they feel included in the process.
- If your space allows, set up a mini office for your kids and organize activities they can do for a few hours. This way, you can work while keeping an eye on them.
Find A Coworking Space With On-Site Childcare
A lot of parents consider remote work thinking it would save them money on childcare costs. Who can blame them? According to the Economic Policy Institute’s data, childcare costs continue to be the highest expense for households in the US. However, that is rarely true, especially if you have an infant or a toddler. Luckily, there are now a few coworking spaces that offer on-site childcare. These can, in some way, minimize your childcare costs.
Additionally, staying at a coworking space every now and then could be a breath of fresh air when you feel you’ve been cooped up for too long. The beauty of remote work is that you can choose where you work. You can’t always be in the same space at home and not have physical interaction with others—that won’t do you any good. Plus, your little ones will enjoy playing with other kids while being watched by a childcare professional.
- Some remote working parents divide their hours between home and a coworking space. They schedule their time in coworking establishments for important meetings or deep work (more on this later).
- Kids are usually exhausted by the time you get home. You can use the extra time while they’re sleeping to do a couple more hours of deep work.
Alternate Childcare With Your Partner
If your partner is also a remote employee, you’re lucky because you can divide childcare between each other. Schedule hours during which one of you works while the other watches over the kids. Sharing responsibilities will ease the burden and keep both of you productive.
Alternatively, if your partner works at an office, you can consider switching your workdays for your partner’s weekends so you have some days where you can work undistracted.
- You can make this collaboration easier by using an alarm.
- If the responsibility of working and taking care of kids is too much for the both of you, you may consider seeking help from a nanny or a relative. If you’re working at home, you can ask your nanny to stay for fewer hours than usual (subtract commute time or only when you do deep work) to save money.
Prioritize Deep Work
Deep work is when you perform cognitively demanding work in a state of distraction-free concentration. Products of deep work are those that add value and are hard to replicate. They involve important tasks that you don’t really do all day.
Most remote employees do deep work for four to five hours. This is because there are other tasks, called “shallow work,” such as responding to e-mails and filling out forms that are not as cognitively challenging. It is easy to focus on shallow work, especially when you’re working with a remote team living in different time zones.
The key to succeeding in a remote work setup is to prioritize deep work. Delegate an hour or so to do shallow work, then proceed to do deep work afterward. Don’t let your day slip without doing any deep work.
- Schedule your deep work when you are most energetic, your kids are busy or sleeping, or you’re in a coworking space.
- Take a 15- to 30-minute power nap before you do deep work so your mind is energized.
Find Time For Relaxation
For new remote employees, work and personal life become blurred when the home becomes the workplace. A lot of remote working parents end up working well into the night. If not, they go straight into parenting mode without taking a break. Parenting is a full-time, 24/7 responsibility, but when you’re also employed, you need to take care of yourself so you don’t burn out. Do something alone or for yourself—whether it’s a hobby, a workout routine, or even a quick bath—at the end of your shift before you switch to parenting tasks.