Yes, You Can Help Your Working Parents Get Through COVID-19
Published: May 7, 2020
Author: Laura Rodnitzky
A few weeks into our company-mandated universal work-from-home period, 3Q team members started opening up about their struggles working remotely. While the switch to remote work has affected everyone, it’s been especially challenging for many of our working parents, whose kids are now home from school or daycare. Weeks upon weeks of full workdays that juggle home schooling, nap schedules, diaper changes, meals, and the many other needs of children who miss their friends, teachers, relatives, and daily routines – without a real end in sight – has had an impact on the mental and physical health of working parents everywhere.
And as the working parent of a highly inquisitive, energetic five-year-old who wants to jump onto every Zoom meeting – and certainly doesn’t want to nap – I know firsthand how impossible it can be to balance work and parenting at this time.
Over the years, we’ve put a number of practices in place to give 3Qers flexibility in when and where they work – flex time, occasional WFH, sick leave, unlimited PTO – which can be really helpful for working parents. But as schools in many states are closed through the end of the school year and possibly longer, we understand that even these benefits may not be enough for parents and caregivers to sustain balance and health in the long term.
With that in mind, we’re asking everyone at 3Q to do their part to help our working parents find the time and space to be there for their families and 3Q, and maybe even find time to catch a deep breath every now and then.
We are asking managers and teammates to:
- Think twice before scheduling a meeting with a peer who has kids at home during this time – is it something that can be accomplished via email or Slack?
- Make non-essential meetings optional for parents.
- Allow parents to join meetings without video as needed.
- Be understanding if parents are late to meetings or need to cut out early to attend to their children. Likewise, be understanding if their kids are in the background or interrupt a meeting or call. The children may not understand why their parents are home but not available to them.
- Extend deadlines for non-critical projects or tasks.
- Know that there will be days when working parents can’t commit to a full eight hours of work.
- Check in regularly to see how they are doing and ask how to support them.
- Promote psychological safety – we want our working parents to be comfortable sharing their challenges and discussing options to get through this time.
- Encourage open conversations with parents and caregivers about challenges with their schedules or deadlines. Ask whether any meetings can be rescheduled to help them take more control of their day’s structure.
- As managers, be open to parents adjusting their work schedules and encourage them to work with the HR team to understand FFCRA and other benefits if they need larger blocks of time off to be with their children.
- Show grace and care for their team – these are incredibly stressful times for parents.
None of the efforts above is huge in and of itself, but when they’re practiced mindfully and with empathy for the extra burden of parents and caregivers, they do make a difference. Take a bit of extra time to show working parents and caregivers you’re in it with them, and we’ll all be better off in the long run.