Working from home with children or on your own is not always easy
A change is upon us in our working habits. The Coronavirus pandemic has altered the way we work, perhaps forever. The regular 9-5 office job is now a blend of home working and office working. For most, this is a good thing and a better way to live, with a far better work-life balance, lets travel costs, and increased productivity. But it’s not always plane sailing! Juggling work with kids in the house. Interruptions from delivery drivers whilst on a video call. Increased heating costs as you are home more and loss of team communication are just a few of the problems. So we are here to help. Whether you are working from home full time or part-time, change is here and it’s time to embrace the new way of getting things done.
And here at POSH, we got rid of the office and have been working from our home office for years, so we’re in a confident position to be able to highlight some of the best ways to ensure you get a productive day at work – from home.
Working from home can be lonely
If you live or work on your own during the day at home, it’s no surprise that it can be lonely. Without regular human interaction at the cafeteria, photocopier or water fountain, the days can drag out and sometimes you might find yourself having spoken to nobody all day. So it’s a good idea to take a break and go outside for lunch. To the park, local corner shop or anywhere you might get to unwind just for a moment and get some genuine face-to-face human interaction. Daily human interaction is important not just for our mental wellbeing, but perhaps for our physical health too.
Further, it is hugely beneficial to keep in contact with your colleagues and clients. Having a structured weekly call with a bit of a catch-up at the start has really helped all of our team. Find out more about just how to do this further on.
Another way to avoid loneliness is getting a pet. Now, we certainly don’t advocate just going out and buying a pet without putting a lot of research into it. For example, if you are looking for a dog that will cuddle up and be pretty chilled all day whilst you work, you probably don’t want to get a high-energy dog that will insist on three long walks a day! It’s also a good idea to research where your puppy is coming from. Avoid puppy farms at all costs. You might get a cheap dog, but chances are it will be unhealthy. It will potentially cost you a lot of money in vet bills. But if you get it right, there are few things better than writing a report with a puppy or kitten cuddled up in your arms!
Working at home with kids can be impossible
Let’s not pretend that working at home with children in the house is ever easy. Unless they are super efficient and well-behaved (lucky you!) you’ve probably found them in front of the TV a lot more than they should be allowed. Perhaps a lot more iPad time, and a lot less reading and imaginative time that you would like too.
As we all get used to this new way of working, don’t kick yourself about this. Things will settle out and once you get yourself into a routine, you can start working out one for the children. In the meantime, don’t worry if you just can’t get anything done. There’s no planning for the days when the kids are just climbing the walls and stopping you from finishing a thought. This is the time when you speak to your manager and figure out a solution. It’s a stressful time, but nothing is impossible, especially if you ask for help.
Working at home with kids
Here are some top tips for working from home with a family that might help you organise your time when there are kids in the house:
If they are old enough, set clear limits on when you are available, and time when you are only available for emergencies (and be clear what constitutes an emergency!)
For younger kids, try to see if you can shift your work to fit around them. For example, can you get up before they do? Work when they sleep or have downtime? Can you work in the evening instead? Some people who parent in couples split their time so as to ensure a length of uninterrupted work time.
One of our young kid parents has put a dvd corner in their office and as a reward, when her 3-year-old lets her work for a set time alone, she is allowed to then come in for quiet time and watch a dvd with mum in the room with her.
Call on friends
But really do try and keep the two separate. Yes, we were victims of lockdown parenting too! And this meant trying to work every second of every day, continuously being interrupted and pulled away by kids. So, we got our work done, but it was stressful. And our family time was so enmeshed with work, that it became stressful too! So try and reward your kids and yourself with set “us time” and set “work time”.
And, as a result of reduced child care and increased working from home hours, we have also found as a team that we are partnering up with other parents. As such, we have agreed with friends parents where each is struggling and we try to share the load. So, your kids might have a play date on an afternoon with them, whilst you cover sick days or lifts from daycare. Whatever you are struggling with, you are not alone. So start talking to others and asking for help in return for your time when you have it.
When you work, it can be a good time for children to work too. Have you got space at your desk or kitchen table for them to join you? And remember, work doesn’t just mean schoolwork – it can be painting, playing with dough or colouring in!
Working from home doesn’t actually have to mean ‘from home’. Perhaps there is somewhere like a soft play or park that you can go where you can still keep an eye on things. But here, you’ll have the chance to get your thoughts in order and get some work done.
Keeping costs down
Working from home can add a few additional costs such as increased heating bills, worries over electricity costs. So, we have taken to heating just the one room we are working in. The cost of running a quality eco heater is nominal – but do make sure you buy “a quality eco heater” as whilst a cheap heater may have a low upfront cost, they do tend to rack up your electricity bills and cost more to run monthly. Check the energy rating and kw before buying. And here is a handy tool for calculating your costs, once you know which heater you want. Buy one with a thermostat and keep its run time down by layering up on clothing… or even keep a blanket to hand for those chilly winter days.
Keeping up communication
And finally, how to keep up communication with your team and work colleagues. Well, we improved our communication and productivity by implementing a “no email rule”. Yes, we asked our team only to send an email in an emergency or for extremely time-sensitive items. And all other questions get put into a shared online sheet we call our “coms sheet”. So, the team add their name, the client it relates to, and details of their item. And then every Tuesday, we then have an operations conference call whereby we go through each item sequentially. As such, this means the team not only knows everything that is going on with each client, but they also learn from each other through each of the questions asked.
You’ll get there!
We’re all getting used to this, and will be for some time too. So don’t feel the need to rush things, and try not to get too stressed out. Once you and anyone else in your life get into the swing of things, you’ll start to wonder how you ever managed to commute to a 9-5 every day! Working from home with children or on your own will soon become second nature and, hopefully, open up so many new possibilities and opportunities that it will change your life for the better. And remember, if you need help with your website or marketing strategy, we are happy to help too.