Monday, July 12, 2021

Have Circumstances Changed Parents’ Views on Remote Work?

 Remote work has thrown a wrench into the operations of countless businesses around the world, some more than others. While some employees have been able to adapt and make the most of the circumstances, workers with children at home might find themselves questioning their line of work or considering a change in careers.

With this in mind, it is important that you consider how these circumstances affect employees with families. While it might seem like a difficult conversation to have, it might make all the difference for you and your employees moving forward.

How COVID Influences the Family Dynamic

It’s not just children; the entire family is impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Working remotely might seem like a blessing at first. After all, busy parents get to spend more time with their beloved family. Sure, they might be busy the entire day, but being able to fit in more family time cannot possibly be a bad thing… right? Unfortunately, these parents are starting to see the challenges more than the benefits. Not only do they have to balance the responsibilities of the workday, but they also have to ensure their family is safe, healthy, and educated. Many parents utilized childcare services prior to the pandemic, and considering the fact that most of their childrens’ days were spent at school, it quickly becomes apparent just how much even responsible parents rely on others to take care of their own children. After social distancing guidelines were put into place and schools remained closed for extended periods of time, parents were forced to wake up to the harsh reality that it is, to put it plain and simple, hard work to be a working adult and a parent without making certain sacrifices.

These circumstances have created an extraordinarily difficult situation for parents who seek to preserve their reputation as a professional and maintain business relationships. Now that many of these professionals have been working remotely for some time, it’s understandable that a return to normalcy might feel like the exact opposite and exacerbate concerns. Chief among these concerns are childcare (49 percent), exposure to COVID-19 (53 percent), decreased work flexibility (48 percent), diminished work-life balance (46 percent), and office politics (31 percent).

Other Concerns for Parents and the Remote Workplace

The above only just scratches the surface. Here are some of the other professional issues that parents might consider when weighing whether or not it’s worth returning to the office post-COVID:

  • 60 percent of parents feel burnt out. For reference, the general population’s rate is 56 percent.
  • 41 percent of parents report that they are worse-off in terms of mental health compared to when the pandemic began, as opposed to the general population’s 38 percent.
  • 19 percent of parents are concerned about their potential for promotion while working remotely. Only 14 percent of all respondents do.
  • 22 percent of parents claim that their skills have suffered, compared to the general population’s rate of 19 percent.
  • Working parents also struggle with boundaries and other issues while working remotely:
    • 40 percent overwork, or work longer than they should
    • 36 percent deal with distractions unrelated to work
    • 28 percent have to deal with unreliable Wi-Fi connectivity
    • 26 percent deal with tech issues that need troubleshooting
    • 24 percent are worn down by video meetings
    • 18 percent have issues maintaining their relationships with coworkers
    • 16 percent have issues maintaining their relationships with their bosses

Similarly, raising children while working remotely has had an influence on employment as a whole:

  • 43 percent of parents have seen no impacts
  • 21 percent cut back on their working hours
  • 16 percent quit work while planning to rejoin the workforce later
  • 4 percent had a partner reduce their hours
  • 2 percent quit work with no intention of returning
  • 2 percent had a partner quit as a result

Remote Still Works for (Some) Employees

Even though there are countless challenges and obstacles for remote workers, employees do see the value in remote work in at least some capacity. It’s a reasonable goal to work toward, and if businesses have been able to sustain operations throughout the course of the pandemic, why not consider leaving it in place to a certain extent?

Even something as simple as cutting out the commute has been a big enough change to influence some parents’ thoughts on this whole ordeal, and it is hard not to enjoy the perks of increased family time and flexible scheduling. Some have predicted that remote work can eventually lead to plenty of other benefits, including increased productivity, improved work-life balance, and a healthier office environment, as well as other big-picture benefits such as gender equality.

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