Working from home can seem like an easy option at first. There’s no waiting in bus queues, and you don’t have to get dressed. You can even stop for lunch whenever you want. However, according to the statistic, 53.1% of remote workers find more distractions at home than at the office.
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When it comes to interruptions, your children can be the worst offenders. Make no mistake, working remotely is challenging. However, you are no longer in an actual office environment. It’s your work that has invaded your home. You must accept that your usual work routine is no longer appropriate.
There is a route to success, but you have to make meticulous plans and be flexible. A great deal also depends on your situation, such as being the only adult at home. We’ve compiled our best tips for working remotely with kids to give you a head start.
1. Setting up the Best Kid-Friendly Office Space
It may sound like a contradiction to include kids in your home office. However, it’s a fact you have to face. Caring for your children, whatever their age, still has to be a priority when you’re working remotely.
The NSPCC recommends installing your home office in a space where you can still fulfil your role as a childminder. Avoid locking yourself away in a spare bedroom. You’ll never know what your kids are doing. Instead, choose a corner in a communal room. The longer it is the better as you can work at one end while your children play at the other.
Use a low screen to mark the perimeter of your office. An effective method is hanging up a ‘do not disturb sign on your office boundary when you need to concentrate for a while. If your children are inclined to play noisily, wear headphones, but always make regular visual checks on your kids.
2. Organise Your Working Day
You can no longer jump straight into your work at 9.00 am and work through until 5.00 pm. When combining an active parental role with remote work, you need a much more flexible timetable. To begin with, your working day will probably become much longer than if you were at the office.
According to a survey by Nature Human Behavior, a remote worker’s day lasts around 2.5 hours longer than in an office environment. It could be even more if you have to include supervising your own children. So get organised by starting work as early as possible, preferably a couple of hours before breakfast. That’s when you can take a break and socialise with your children.
Your working day could also include a few extra hours when your children have gone to bed. Again, it’s important to plan ahead and organise your tasks. Reserve assignments that won’t require interacting with colleagues for these unsociable, out-of-office hours.
3. Including Kids in Your Work Timetable
Children always need attention, particularly if they are young. From their point of view, they can see where you are and can’t understand why you ignore them while working. Unfortunately, you have little choice but to deal with them multiple times throughout your remote work.
It’s often easier to spend a short while giving them quality attention first. Otherwise, you risk even more interruptions. Once you’ve provided attention, they’ll be content to play without you for a while. Your timetable will inevitably include more breaks than normal to account for family time.
Children have relatively short attention spans. Unfortunately, your timetable has to reflect this. Alternate smaller work sessions with quality attention. Making sure they have absorbing toys to play with is crucial to your work productivity. Remember to take frequent short breaks to check on their progress.
4. Seek Adult Assistance
Sharing childcare with another adult is helpful. If your partner also works remotely, take it in turns to provide supervision for your children. If you’re the only adult, consider enlisting a family member to amuse your children for an hour or two.
This is a vital strategy if you have to attend a remote conference or webinar at an appointed hour. An alternative is to arrange for your in-laws to take the children to a museum or park for an hour or two while you deal with urgent tasks. However, if you can’t get any additional help, you’ll have to develop outstanding improvisation skills.
Wait until the right moment to introduce your children to creative activity. Stock up on coloring books and crayons, or a good idea could be to purchase some kits where they make pictures from pre-cut shapes. Be firm about having no interruptions until your call has finished.
5. Give Yourself Time to Adapt
According to the London School of Economics, remote working improves your initiative by 63%. It can also enhance work engagement by as much as 75%. These impressive figures are proof that remote working can be successful. However, you need more time to adapt when you have children at home.
Research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) revealed in 2021 that remote working had improved average productivity rates by 28%. However, if you’re new to the format, allow time to adjust. Always confide in your employer if at first, you need longer to complete assignments.
Working remotely can be very successful, even if you have children at home. It could help you develop outstanding organisational skills. You’ll inevitably become adept at improvisation and multitasking. The structure of a remote working day can be quite different to working in an office.
Expect to start early and finish late, but you’ll have more breaks to compensate. Incorporate your children into your daily timetable. Give them high-quality attention before and after each work session. Trying to ignore them will only cause conflict and confusion.
Allow time for settling into a pattern of remote working that suits you and your family. Ultimately, you have the opportunity to combine your employment and quality time with your children. Think of it as a privilege.
This article was written by Michael Dinneen of NannyCity. NannyCity is a leading Nanny Placement Agency with locations in both NYC & CT.