While the hybrid work model is a boon for parents, it also throws up productivity challenges - here’s how to resolve them.
Flexibility at work has been a theme that resonates with everyone. The pandemic accelerated this phenomenon, leading most organizations to recognize that the hybrid work model is here to stay. While this arrangement is every parent's dream come true, it is not without its own challenges.
For working parents, it has been difficult to stay focused and be productive with children at home. Managing this challenge effectively is critical for self-fulfillment and success at work. Here are three suggestions that will help you be as productive as possible, while you work from home.
The key to staying focused at home is to create an effective dedicated workspace with limited distractions and one that is away from social media interactions. Keeping the work area and relaxing area separate makes one more productive. Investing in a comfortable desk and chair will help simulate the office environment and create a sense of seriousness.
It’s also a good idea to set healthy boundaries with family members, especially children who should be made aware of your work timings.
While very young children may find it difficult, older children should know that your workspace is off-limits and that it’s work time when you are seated at that desk. Getting dressed for work even if you are not stepping out or having video calls will make children acknowledge the fact that it’s working hours for you. It will help you get into a professional mindset as well.
Have an open conversation with your family members, especially any elders living with you, and explain the expectations of the work from home culture.
Dr. Aakanksha Sehgal, Management Researcher and Consultant with a Ph.D. on 'Women in Business' says, “Creating boundaries and setting priorities is imperative for working parents. As a bonus, establishing buy-in and encouraging older children to help with work wherever possible can also inculcate greater initiative and entrepreneurial attitudes among them.”
Help yourself with time management
Rather than just wishing to become more time-efficient, help yourself by adopting tried and tested techniques. The Pomodoro technique, for instance, helps people to stay focused on specific tasks at a time, and avoid getting distracted by social media or other interruptions.
The Pomodoro principle is a long-established time management method, which improves focus and productivity, by breaking your day into 25-minute intervals, which are followed by five-minute breaks. These breaks can be used for stretching or some physical exercises in addition to checking in on kids.
It helps to make a to-do list every day, prioritizing the major as well as minor tasks at hand. You become more efficient when you narrow your focus each day. Aditi Mathur, Director, American Express feels, “Planning for the week ahead really works. I use Sundays to list out priorities for the coming week both professional (critical meetings, deliverables) & personal (kids doc appt, birthdays, etc). I further divide them into - must-dos & 'good to do’ and ones that can be delegated vs. those you need to own.”
Both partners should divide the work. Shared calendars between spouses helps with better coordination and division of activities.
Identify your best working hours
It is important to discuss with your boss, the timings that work for you and request flexibility in case you need some time to attend to children's classes in the mornings. Make a work schedule personalized to your demands at home so you can take care of those needs first and then dedicate time to work without interruptions.
Whenever possible, try to synchronize work that requires your full attention with your little one’s schedule. It may be easier for you to focus on such work at times when children are taking their afternoon nap or busy with playtime. Blocking out specific time periods on your calendar for non-work activities lets people know your availability and mitigates the stress of having to say no in case of a conflict.
Aditi Mathur, Director, American Express additionally points out, “Both partners should divide the work. Shared calendars between spouses helps with better coordination and division of activities”.
Being a parent is not a cakewalk, but with a little bit of planning and management, you can manage to get things done while still having enough space to relax and work productively.