Working parents continue to juggle during COVID-19
Over the past few generations, Americans have painted a clear picture of “work.” The image depicts a desk, a desk, possibly a clock, noting productivity from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. There are clothing lines designed for people in office spaces. There is an alleged lunch “hour” that nods to employers, and the unions have agreed to eat at noon. We have weekends, the ultimate space flanking the other five days of the week for rest and social time.
Our communities are built around this model. The school day adapts to this schedule for parents. Restaurants are banking on happy hour, a social time within an hour of the workday, to connect with colleagues and friends. A myriad of films and television shows portray working life in America, sometimes comically and sometimes simply as the setting for the story.
But after two years of navigating a global pandemic, this scene of working life in America has changed. And you know who was the most impacted? Our employed parents.
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Have you scrolled through the headlines lately? You’ll likely find headlines about the rise in the proportion of working parents who are struggling to meet their childcare responsibilities and balance their work.
According to the Pew Research Center survey conducted in 2020, “About half of employed parents with children under the age of 12 in the household (52%) say it has been difficult to meet childcare responsibilities. children during the coronavirus outbreak, compared to 38% who said this in March 2020.”
As 2022 kicks off, we are compelled to turn our attention to our American workers, who are also parents. The disruptions of COVID-19 are pervasive, infuriating, and draining our workforce faster than any variant can capture media attention. And employers, beware! You have to adapt if you want to retain your employees.
Nearly two years ago, one community after another scrambled to implement ways to keep their people safe and continue business operations to avoid an economic collapse. To adapt, we have learned to communicate with our colleagues, deliver our services and leverage resources virtually.
This transition was so uncomfortable at the time, but today, as we look back on the third year crest, we realize that the changes we have made to the work we do are not temporary fixes. The future of the American workplace is hybrid.
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Virtual work capabilities have created new job opportunities, amplified flexibility for families, increased productivity and eliminated long commutes.
Remote work has expanded talent pools as individuals apply for jobs in different states and countries, allowing companies to compete to attract more talented employees and leaders globally. Navigating COVID, many organizations have distilled the fundamentals of implementing a sustainable mix of remote and in-person working for roles that no longer require employees to be on-site.
According to a recent McKinsey & Company survey, companies now expect employees to be onsite between 21 and 80 percent of the time, or one to four days a week.
The hybrid workplace inspires organizations to navigate the future of the American workspace. Businesses need to expand effective forms of communication productivity and reduce burnout. They must build trust with their employees, become familiar with telecommunications, and consider the opportunities for return on investment if their employees are able to engage with each other and the organization from a space that serves more directly, intentionally and individually their situation.
Your workforce – your parents of children in schools and daycares – will feel empowered by these progressive and courageous changes. As schools and daycares try to respond to exposures, closures and staffing issues, you, as employers, can keep your flexibility stable, trusting your parent-employees to feel that they can truly put their family first. By doing so, you’ll foster a fierce loyalty, invigoration, and commitment to your organization that only a parent with someone in their corner could muster.
When the pandemic shifted organizations to remote work, they developed new forms of communication. Platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meets enable employees to work effectively remotely. The days of walking into an employee’s office have been replaced by a quick “team chat” or a stop in a Zoom meeting space. This keeps employees connected and productive even when they’re out of the office, and it’s proven to support the working professional.
Consider this in conjunction with the articles: as parents struggle to get support in the form of childcare and school disruptions, they may need to work on projects and respond to emails. mails early in the morning, after bedtime or during a nap. Employees who have the option to attend a meeting virtually can listen intently and take notes, but with their camera off and while changing a diaper or making lunch.
Multitasking is the new reality, and if employers celebrate the skill as a mainstay of their office culture, the U.S. Department of Labor‘s statistics on working moms might tell a different story a year or two from now, one that fills the gap. fairness gaps and celebrates the strength of its workforce.
As the pandemic enters its second year, employee fatigue and burnout have increased. As organizations move towards hybrid working, the issue of burnout is much more prevalent than in the past. In a recent poll by Indeed.com, more than half (52%) of respondents feel exhausted and more than two-thirds (67%) believe sentiment has deteriorated throughout the pandemic. Those who work virtually report higher rates of burnout at home (38%) than those on-site who report one (28%).
The World Health Organization added burnout as an occupational phenomenon in 2019. Many employers are now taking this issue much more seriously as they prepare to make the switch to remote working for good. The social components of work create a culture of care in an organization.
There’s something to be said for stopping by a co-worker’s workspace to talk about something other than the project you’re working on. This research is essential to the design of future working arrangements, and employers and employees should take it into account. The hybrid, allowing for both in-person work and regular telecommuting, could very well help us shift our historical understanding of the Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. workweek.
Hybrid wellbeing is essential for a successful remote work environment and is key to retaining parent employees. To counter burnout and support families, organizations can create a healthier work environment by creating more flexibility in hours and deadlines, encouraging family-first breaks, encouraging time off and creating safe spaces prioritizing employee mental health, fully acknowledging that parenting during COVID -19 has been absurd.
Investing in employee well-being will help support workers, reduce burnout and increase business productivity.