Remote working with children - top hacks
Superhero dads reveal their secrets
Remote working can be a blessing for every parent. In that way, you don’t have to face tough dilemmas like “staying at the office to finish fixing that bug” versus “returning home early to do some karaoke with your children”.
Being a working parent used to be all about making tough calls in terms of career or childcare. But the new challenge lies in engineering your day to fit one around the other - particularly when your child (or children's) schedule in itself requires a manic dance between education, entertainment and quality family time.
As a remote-first company, our team has been succeeding as remote working parents for a long time now. They've tested all the hacks. Here we spotlight 9 superhero dads to share the ultimate survival tips for remote parenting.
"Create your own quiet working space."
Andrew Stevenson - CTO
I'm lucky enough to have an attic to work from, so adding a big sign on the steps when I'm in meetings is a lifesaver. I've also adjusted my hours (flexibility is the key when you work from home with children around), so I start later in the morning to help with homeschooling and try to keep 30 minutes between meetings to check up on the kids and resolve fights. In addition, before I can go to my “home office”, I make sure there are toys out of the cupboard and the iPads are fully charged to keep the children occupied on a rainy afternoon. Then I can finally head to my quiet working space to concentrate on my work and be sure that everything is in order at home and no one will distract me from my tasks of the day.
"Set availability times and share them with the rest of the team."
Fran Perez - Senior Software Engineer
I generally try to give visibility to the team when I'm not available and that helps me be persistent in my parenting schedule: I can create a routine and spend time with my daughters for specific time-frames, without worrying about slack notifications from my colleagues. This method is very efficient, especially when it comes to scheduling meetings. And when it’s time for work, I make sure to let the kids know and understand that I am working.
"Parenting is pretty much like startup-ing."
Antonios Chalkiopoulos - CEO
Having a kid is like running a Startup. It keeps you up at night, takes a lot of energy, it’s something you constantly think and deeply care about, and at the same time, it's equally rewarding. On a practical level, when you are a parent you need to be a bit more thoughtful when planning your meetings and professional travelling, as you need to allocate time-windows to focus on professional execution and also time-windows to enjoy parenthood.
"Bring your baby on a call"
Olivier de Garrigues - Head of Alliances
Having a baby when working at home might be challenging, as you might be tempted to check on them every two seconds. But you need to establish some discipline and focus on what you have to do (bonus tip: investing in a good soundproofing routine is always a good idea when you have babies). What I also find really helpful is to bring my baby on a call once in a while: I make her listen and not look at the screen - sleep guaranteed!
"Be present and focused on whatever you are doing"
Mark Choi - Director of Customer Success
As a parent with children going to nursery, I learnt to follow a specific schedule early enough. I plan my day and activities based on when I am most productive and in that way I have fit in time to drop my kids off at the nursery, pick them up and then spend some time with them before bed.But the trick is to always be present and remain as focused as possible on what you are doing, whether it’s at your desk, working, or spending time with your children. There is only a fixed amount of time in the day, yet so many priorities, so the only way to succeed is to be organised and completely committed whatever you are doing.
"Split the kids-supervision days with your partner if possible"
Dave Harper - VP Sales
When you are a working parent, It is very important to be able to split the kids-supervision days with your partner. I consider myself a very lucky man, as my wife is a teacher and, thus, the days she takes care of the children, everything works out perfectly (though she finds it much easier to teach other people’s kids!). On the days when I am in charge though, I try to leave short gaps between meetings to check on them and make sure they understand the tasks they are given for the day, or to make sure they are not doing things they shouldn’t - I did catch my son playing Minecraft early on, now he knows never to do it before finishing his daily to-do list! At lunchtime, we are discussing what they have been learning about and finally, we block some time at the end of the day to go to the park and play some sport.
Nature is the best classroom. And get an employer that appreciates family-time
Joe Fitzpatrick - Strategic Communications Manager
As a single dad, the shelter-in-place order was a shock to the system. In addition to my work responsibilities I needed to home-school my 11 year-old daughter. Here are my three tips for survival:
Breathe. It's all going to be OK and you don't have to be perfect.
Communicate. Fortunately Lenses.io and my manager appreciate family and understand there might be interruptions in my work day.
Nature/outdoor time. Nature is the best classroom. Whether it's working outside, or going on a hike it's been invaluable for us to spend time outside everyday.
"Give them a schedule and their personal space"
Nick Boxall - Senior Sales Manager
It is essential for a family to create a daily schedule: In that way, we all know what everyone should be doing. But equally important is for every member of the family to have his or her own personal space. I have been hearing about personal working spaces at home, but your children need their own spaces too. Different strategies should be adopted in every family, depending on how many parents work at home and how old the kids are. For example, I have a shed in the garden and my wife has the front room. As for the children, they have a TV room, kitchen and garden (as well as their rooms) to play in.
"Split your day equally to working and parenting"
Andrea Fiore - Senior Software Engineer
For about two months during the recent lock-down, we had to do without the help of our nanny and both my wife and I have split our day evenly between parenting and working, taking turns. On a typical day, I would wake up around 6:00-6:30 am, prepare breakfast and then spend the morning with my daughter Chiara, who is nearly two years old. My parenting time would last until her afternoon nap-time. When she woke up, her mum would take over the parenting, while I was able to work typically until around 9pm. Keep in mind though that while trying to focus almost exclusively on one of the two modes of operation, avoid completely losing sight of the other! Sometimes, a clear cut is simply not possible, and some flexibility and context switching is necessary.
"Make the most of having your children during the day"
David Sloan - Scala Software Engineer
There might be a lot of tips for successful remote working with kids at home, but don’t forget to make the most of having your children around during the day, especially while they are little. It’s a great privilege to be able to work from home and watch your kids as they are growing up. It gives you the necessary time and space for unique family bonding. Whenever you can, take that short break between your tasks to see how they are doing and what they are up to. Plus, you will probably never find a better assistant than your toddler daughter or son.