Working from home always involves some extra challenges compared to the office. Especially if you work in your house, with your children around, and you are not able to go out with them, or the kindergarten and school are closed. Centaer Consulting also has employees who have little children and who, due to of what has been happening in the past few weeks, can now experience first-hand all the beauty and difficulty of home office with kids. We asked them what tips they would share to help employees in similar situations. This article summarizes their answers.
Talk to them
Communication is the foundation of everything. If your kids are big enough, sit down with them and clarify the rules. Explain how long you have to work and how they are part of the team. Tell them that their job is to help you stay focused. Plan what you will do together once you have finished work. Let them see that you will spend time with them too.
Discuss some scenarios when you need your children to be quiet. For example, what they have to do when your phone rings and you need to pick it up, or when you sit in front of your work and concentrate heavily. Give them right and wrong answers, such as A) shouting loudly and attracting your attention, B) quietly waiting for you to finish and answer. This way you can help them have ready scenarios and know how to behave.
Build the motivation of your kids. Set goals for them to accomplish throughout the day and reward them for the completed “challenges“. Blend some quality time into the rewards so you have activities together after your work. Set up a smiley leaderboard to rate their daily goal achievements. You can give different grades from the angry emoji, through the sad and the smiling one to the big grin.
Use the nap time
If you have a baby or toddler at home, you can count on afternoon naps. Not for yourself, of course. You can use this time cleverly to check out some of your tasks. Do the same with the hours after bedtime at night.
Family, friends, neighbors. Don’t be afraid to ask for their help from time to time, if they have already offered it before. In fact, if there are little ones in those families too, you can organise play dates in the afternoons. These allow you to look after the kids together. Two or three children will make themselves busy easier, giving the parents the opportunity to work and share supervision when adult intervention is needed.
Some children get distracted easily by the presence of adults when they play on their own, while others can keep themselves busy for hours when an adult is there within the reach. If your children fall into the latter category, use the “mobile office”. Create a “boredom corner” for your children and move out of your working room to a small desk next to their corner. This way you can see each other, while everyone can concentrate on their own activities.
Flexibility and communication
Sometimes trying to concentrate on your job seems like an impossible mission. If all else fails, take a break, do something with the kids for an hour, and then get back to work. It is important that you keep in touch with your colleagues, so they know when they can and cannot count on you. It is good to see the harder days in advance when you need to re-schedule your working hours for sure, and to communicate this to your workplace in time.
If possible, leave an extra few hours for your tasks and don’t delay them until the last minute. You can never know when a “mini-emergency” will occur.
Pet yourself on the back
Home office is not necessarily easy on its own, especially if you need to take care of your children simultaneously. Conscious planning and good time management can help you a lot, but you may still need to modify the original concept. Don’t be too hard on yourself and spend time on recharging and with your favorite activities as well.