Posted: 06 Apr. 2020 5 min. read

Pro tips for parents working from home!

Over the past few weeks, families across the nation have been placed into lock down – in an attempt to prevent the spread of the corona virus. The emerging situation has increased the demands in particular for parents working from home – who apart from managing usual work and home responsibilities, they also need to figure out how to entertain and educate their young ones.

Luckily for you, Ralph Gonzalvo, Lorrae Strahorn and Jodie Warhurst – some of the amazing parents within our Deloitte Virtual Office Advisory Board community – share their pro tips on how they’ve done just that:

1. Embrace the chaos – go easy on yourself

Try not to be too hard on yourself as a parent. This situation is unprecedented, and likelihood is that most people are in the same situation as yourself. At some point, the kids will enter your room during a meeting - if it's appropriate, introduce them and make them part of the call. Let them know what you're doing and who you're talking to. This is going to be a hard time for them as well. 

2. Setting boundaries – work time and space

Since you’ll be working from home, it’s important to set some boundaries and expectations for yourself. Determine when work starts and finishes, and make sure to schedule when you will take your breaks with reminders and alerts on. It gets comfortable being at home and when we are focused or under pressure, we can easily forget to take a break.

You may also like to set physical boundaries for work activity - where possible, preparing a distinguishable work area that is separate from your living space. That way, when you do clock off you are able to feel work has completely finished for the day.

3. Plan out your day – be prepared and keep it flexible

Our days won't be perfect, and no doubt every day will be different, but plans and routines can assist with keeping structure throughout the chaos.

  • Try starting your working day earlier - say 6am, and then using 8-9am to work closely with your children to help them plan their own days.
  • Some love the idea of the 2 hours on/off (with partners) throughout the day to be able to help and spend time with their children

Situations will always occur out of our control when involving our loved ones or in an environment not dedicated for work (home). While having a concrete plan is great, do also include provisions for the unexpected.

4. Managing your kids – experiment with what works for you

Whilst managing our own work commitments - we also need to do our best to manage our children's ongoing schooling, their health and wellbeing. Obviously, there’s no one size fits all approach – and you will need to experiment with various approaches, like below:

  • Keeping the school day routines in place – bedtime and wake up time stay the same, as well as ensuring the kiddos are up, dressed, had breaky, jobs done etc prior to the virtual school day starting
  • Try to get outside with the kids when you can – remaining active is going to be really important for both physical and mental wellbeing (all that running around before school, lunch, recess etc)
  • Arrange virtual chats for your children with their friends - they'll be missing the social interactions
  • Prepare lunches and snacks for the day - if I am tied up on a call it means they can get food quickly and easily without having to think too much about it.
  • Create timetables of scheduled schoolwork for the day - working out what they'll need help with and what they can continue with on their own
  • Engaging Grandparents to help "virtually" – setting up Facetime a few times during the week where extended family can listen to them read or help kids with understanding tasks for a particular subject.  Great way to keep up family interaction from a distance.
  • Find and plan activities for younger kids which are engaging, yet developmental, for example - reading eggs, code camps or virtual tours of zoos Communicate, communicate, communicate

5. Communicate, communicate, communicate

For some the Work-From-Home situation can be empowering, for others it can feel isolating. Regularly reaching out to your colleagues as a touch point throughout the day and video calling where possible will help make you feel connected.

Also be open with your team, and your clients or customers - this is a totally different experience for everyone, and we are all trying to adapt in the best way possible. Let your teams know that we might have some interruptions...or perhaps background noise...or changes to our availability in the day – this open and transparent communication really helps with everyone's understanding of each other’s personal circumstances.

Share your wins!

This is the new normal – at least for the time being, and while we’re not perfect, it’s still important to celebrate the wins as a community, no matter how small. We hope you enjoyed our pro tips and would love if you could share your own wins and tips for managing your kids and working from home.

More about the author

Alexander Winiarski

Alexander Winiarski

Analyst, Deloitte Digital

Alexander is an analyst in Deloitte Digital’s Customer Strategy and Experience Design Sydney Practice. He is passionate about creating meaningful value at the intersection of Business, Design and Emerging Technology.