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Helping Parents Balance Distance Learning With Working From Home

Elise Russo

Employees who are also parents are struggling during these challenging times. Read on about how you can make simple adjustments that can ease family stress and lessen the load on your multi tasking heroes.

School is back. However, many kids aren’t going back to a physical classroom—they’re learning virtually now. Having parents working from home and children learning from home is a gamechanger for many employees and requires a constant juggling act. Yes& sought to support our working parents by tapping into our company values of “Got-Your-Back-itude,” “Figure-It-Out-Ability,” and “Yes-ence.”

We first formed a parent task force to discuss and find ways to mitigate potential challenges that could arise while working from home and simultaneously supporting children in a distance-learning environment. By promoting an open dialogue with parents, we could find solutions that worked for them, their colleagues, and the staff as a whole. The biggest takeaway was the importance of flexibility.

The next step was determining how to create a more flexible work environment for parents. Rather than asking parents to accommodate work, we wanted to change the way we work to become more flexible and efficient. We devised a calendar system to indicate best availability for staff parents. Times blocked in red were “absolutely not available” while times blocked in orange were “available if essential, but not ideal.” This system let staff members design flexible schedules that worked for them. 

We then looked at our meeting structure to create a more efficient process, as meetings are an important but time-consuming element of work. We started by asking people to limit the number of meetings scheduled, by evaluating whether each meeting is essential or if the issue could be resolved over email instead. Fewer meetings would in turn lead to more flexible work time. We also created new meeting guidelines that included stating whether an individual’s attendance was needed or optional; creating a strict agenda; and sending out meeting notes within 24 hours. The timelines allow for streamlined meetings, and more time freed for work.

The importance of providing a better virtual work environment for parents during this uncertain time is best summed up by our CEO, Bob Sprague: We believe that helping you succeed as a parent in this situation will ensure that you succeed as an employee.” Being willing to listen to concerns and create actionable solutions helps a company succeed as a whole. Being agile and quick to adjust to this new environment supports employees’ personal and professional success. How can you create the best environment for working parents in your organization?

Yes& is the Washington, DC-based marketing agency that brings commercial, association, and government clients the unlimited power of “&” – using a full suite of branding, digital, event, marketing, public relations, and creative capabilities to deliver meaningful and measurable results.

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Elise Russo
Creative Intern