Striking a Balance

Working from home is the dream for most people. Making your own schedule, seeing the kids more, and working from the comfort of your couch can all be big perks. 80% of people say they wish they could work from home more. Some jobs have always lent themselves to being done from home, but these days jobs in all sectors are being done remotely, some with more success than others. Normally about 3.6% of people work from home at least half-time, but it’s estimated that many more than this — roughly 56% — have the ability to work from home in some capacity.

With the COVID-19 pandemic upon us, we’ve witnessed a huge increase in people working from home, but not in typical work-from-home conditions. Having one’s kids and spouse at home while trying to work, for example, isn’t the norm. How are people expected to balance everything? It’s hard enough keeping kids entertained in the evenings and on the weekends, but to teach them all day on top of that — to work? That’s a lot for a person to manage.

According to the Washington Post, about 41% of workers between the ages of 20 and 54 have children at home. One of the biggest struggles for working parents has to do with homeschooling children and providing childcare. 4 in 10 students say they haven’t done any online school work since their school closure. Just as adults are running out of steam, children are having a hard time as well. Although being at home can be lonely, and staying motivated can be difficult, we are all sharing this experience right now, so we may have more connection than we realize.

People are learning to cope with the extra demands in a variety of ways, including these:

  1. Keep a schedule. Maintaining a time for school work and play, as well as a time when mom and dad can’t be bothered, is one way busy parents are surviving.
  2. Stay in touch. Remember to keep in contact with friends and support networks.
  3. Be forgiving. Both you and your kids are learning to do this. Remember to give yourself time to figure out a good pattern that works for everyone.
  4. Pursue personal passions. This is a great time to relieve stress by brushing up on your guitar playing or your baking or by picking up an old project that you enjoy.

We can press through these hard times, knowing that eventually we will go back to work, our kids will go back to school, and our usual routines will resume. But what if they don’t? What if businesses see the benefits of remote workers and decide to continue remote work indefinitely? Or what if a large subset of workers decide they no longer feel safe at their workplaces? Although the future is still ambiguous, it is smart to contemplate all the possible scenarios for changes to the workplace. We have all been caught off-guard by COVID-19, which is all the more reason to ask: Could we position ourselves better for the future?

On the bright side, small signs of hope are all around. The closure of many gyms and other gathering places has left people with the outdoors as their only option for leaving their homes and getting some fresh air and activity. The increased outdoor time is great for mental and physical health. Likewise, people are spending more time together with their children, loved ones, and roommates. The experience of working remotely is a good skill to develop. Communicating with coworkers while sick, traveling, or unable to come to the office can enhance your career and your company’s success. There are many positive take-aways to focus on right now, allowing the negatives to fade away. Who knows? In a few months you might be looking back and longing for more family time.

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