Are Parents able to do Work From Home?

Consider a 35 year old woman staying with her husband, 37 and her two children – aged 3 and 6 in Bangalore. She works as Project Manager in a top multinational corporation. Her husband is also working as a Project Manager, though of another firm. One of their child, aged 3, is starting with his kindergarten and demands for the utmost attention of his parents. And the other, aged 6, is starting her primary school. She has seen her parents working for most of the times and hence she is bit aware of managing herself.

Things were just going on as expected, until on 24th March, our Prime Minister called for a nation-wide lockdown. And then things just changed.

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Let me now give you a tour of how this woman spends her day. She wakes up to her alarm at 5:30 in the morning. Starting her day with 15 minutes meditation and yoga, she completely immerse herself in doing the household chores. Since the lockdown she has cancelled the maid, cook and nanny services. After her domestic work, she gets ready for the morning meeting with her team members and thus kick starts her 9 to 5 or rather whole day of work. But then wait, she has two children who also needs to get ready for their school. After attending a couple of meetings, she gets up, prepares her children, set up the desktops and login to their school webinar sessions. This continues till the work-chain is intervened by the lunch time. During the lunch hours, she needs to feed her younger one and at the same time, caters to the needs of her elder one. After that, they both go off to sleep and she resumes her work. Some days this workflow gets interrupted by unprecedented events such as poor internet connection, household emergencies and so on and so forth. Apparently as she described, the best time for her to work is about 2 hours in the afternoon and about 2-3 hours at night, when her children go to their beds.

Now this is just one instance. Apparently, this is what most parents are facing while they are working from home. Since the lockdown, they are not just a mom and an employee. Being a maid, a nanny, a mom, a cook, an advisor, a nurse, a repair-woman and a mediator, her life is not just only about being an employee. She is trying to manage everything, trying to subdue all the resistance and challenging all the obstacles on her path. While for others, Work From Home might be a boon or a blessing in disguise but for the parents, especially for a mother, it is a challenge, an everyday obstacle or rather, a bane. Managing her husband, her children, the household as well as her work has never been easy. For her, especially now, there is no distinct boundary between home and work. But the hardest fact of all is that, she was not prepared for this life-changing instrument.

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It is of utmost importance that the employers should take this scenario into consideration and by partnering up with Human Resource Team, they should implement policies which can elevate the motivation level of mothers. A few suggestions from my end would be to give them few extra hours each day, especially during the afternoon to attend to her children. To allow them to complete their work by 6 in the evening, so that they can spend the night-time with their children. Parents should be allowed to attend the business meetings with their children and they should not be embarrassed if something comes up in between work which needs their utmost attention. Parents are having a very hard time, juggling in between work and home and employers should be empathetic while dealing with their situations.

Employers should be all big ears while listening to the issues of the parents. They should have high emotional intelligence and should be empathetic enough to not judge them, but to provide them with empathetic solutions. If a parent says that today she will not be able to work for the entire team because her child is facing some issues, the employer should give her the benefit of doubt, trust her and cooperate with her. It is very important for the employer to keep an open mind and be receptive to the problems. They should understand it takes a lot of courage, especially for the female employees to express their problem, fearing that she will be seen as weak and might be displaced. At this moment, the employer should not despise her, but to communicate with her and provide her with the necessary arrangements.

One things is very important which should always be kept in mind – Parents, especially mothers, can sacrifice for their children and hence the employers must give the required amount of importance to them. Especially the importance that the hard-working parents deserve.

Source: https://hbr.org/2020/03/a-guide-for-working-from-home-parents