Working from home can certainly pose its share of challenges, and as more and more people go down this road, it becomes clear just how difficult it can be. Some significant changes can impact the workflow. Things like communicating, socializing, and interacting with colleagues become difficult. Even scheduling impromptu meetings, something that could traditionally happen as an ad hoc event around a nearby boardroom table or desk, takes on new meaning.
Now, imagine working from home as a dad! With a younger child to care for, all of the disrupted new routines and practices take on an added element of difficulty.
To glean a better understanding of how to adapt to working remotely whilst being a parent, I reached out to Julian Correa our Head of Engineering here at Bunny Studio, and he gave us the following four tips for how one can be successful as an employee and as a father.
But if you prefer to watch a video instead, click here:
1 – Stick to an (Adaptable and Flexible) Schedule
Working from home as a dad can get tricky, especially with younger children who don’t understand the concept of schedule (or just don’t care to understand). But sticking to an adaptable and flexible schedule will ensure productivity levels are maintained. The trick is to allow for adaptability and flexibility in that schedule in order to attend to the little fires that pop up. Whether that means rescheduling or postponing for a few minutes while you tidy an untimely spill, or taking the meeting from the car en route to an impromptu doctor’s appointment, adaptability and flexibility in a schedule will secure your productivity levels.
2 – Communication is Key – But Know Your Audience!
When I asked Julian Correa Head of Engineering about the toughest part about working from home, he said, “When I am in meetings, and my daughter wants to talk or she just needs something from me, she jumps and starts talking like I am not busy.” No matter how much scheduling you do, or how adaptable or flexible it may be, working remotely as a dad can seem impossible when your child has an immediate need. But communicating with your leader will yield understanding and set the expectation that a meeting may be met with brief interruptions.
But communicating with your child is also crucial. As with communicating with your boss, it’s important to adjust your message. While you might engage in a candid chat with your leader about your child’s extra-needy mood that day, speak at your child’s level when setting time aside for the meeting. You might approach a younger child with “Daddy has a meeting until Peppa Pig is over” instead of “Our quarterly planning meeting requires thirty minutes of uninterrupted brainstorming.” Adjusting the message can buy some uninterrupted and crucial time with colleagues.
3 – Adopt an Attitude of Acceptance
With so many people and businesses shifting from traditional work environments to remote work arrangements to help their employees strike a work-life balance, it’s important to adopt an attitude of acceptance. As disruptive as working from home as a dad can be, I’ve seen others in my video conference meeting get interrupted by their own children or pets, and those disruptions are always pleasant. At least for those other than the parent or pet owner!
Just as our leaders have demonstrated exceptional acceptance provided that communication remains open and employees maintain their schedules and productivity, it’s important to demonstrate acceptance as working from home parents.
This approach was echoed by Julian as well. When asked about his experience, he said: “… you need to have team members that understand that for example, dogs are going to bark, cats are going to jump in front of the camera, and kids will interrupt. When this happens my boss, the CTO in Bunny Studio just laughs…” The reality is that, while you get to spend all of your time with your child or children, your coworkers don’t… their occasional interruption is not as disruptive to them as it is for you, so it’s best to adopt an attitude of acceptance instead of letting a mild interruption throw you off your game for the rest of the day.
4 – Don’t Forget Your Break Time!
Something Julian said really resonated with me about his work time at home. It defines the ideology behind being a father for a lot of us. When asked about what inspired him most about working at home, he said: “My favorite thing was that I would see my daughter grow, see those funny comments kids usually say, and parents missed because you are away. Also, I would be able to check on my daughter how she is doing in school, take her to school, pick her up, do homework with her, be an active dad in her life. And I was really happy that I would be able now … to really be aware of her feelings, talk to her if she’s sad, be with her if she’s happy, and walk [her through] hard times together.”
Remember that, when working from the office, there was a water-cooler, a lunchroom, hallways to roam, social chats with colleagues. At home, those moments and forced breaks don’t exist in the same, structured way. While it can be easy to forgo break time, lunchtime, and those unplanned strolls that disrupt the monotony of office work, it’s vital that working at home as a dad, we all take time to spend with our little ones. Check-in on them the way we might with our colleagues. Weigh in where needed. Listen, always. Engage when it’s appropriate to do so. But remember to take those breaks – they might look different when working remotely, but they achieve the same result.
As the lines between work and home blur more and more as the traditional office environment evolves to more flexible platforms, working from home whilst being a dad doesn’t need to be such a big change. Applying these four tips will help maintain productivity levels and allow fathers to better achieve the parenting goals they’ve set for themselves.