For many of us, our pre-COVID-19 definition of a productive workday just doesn't apply today—and that is okay! Some days are – and will continue to be – harder than others. But knowing we're all doing the best we can, together, makes it a bit easier.
Working from home with a partner and kids as your colleagues is challenging for everyone, so we polled a few of our team members to see how they're making this new office environment work. Here are three strategies:
Create a schedule and overcommunicate
Establish a schedule for your partner and/or kids that outlines when you will – and won't – be available to them. Clear, prompt communication is more important than ever. For many, this will mean overcommunicating.
Be clear with your manager about your new co-working situation and how it will impact your daily schedule and update your team as necessary. It is also helpful to use your work calendar to time block when you will be working and spending time with family.
One AP team member shared that she and her partner have found it essential to sit down together and map out their work and parenting schedules before the start of each week. They arrange their calendars to ensure one of them is on "kid-duty" any time the other has an important call or deliverable due. She and her partner also share those schedules with their managers and are careful to set their Slack statuses to reflect when they're available and when they aren't.
Be the early bird and get the worm
Many of our team members have started deviating from traditional workday hours by waking up a couple of hours before the rest of their household to get their day started on a productive, distraction-free note.
As one team member shared, "Our CEO, Bob Glazer, has been advocating rising early and establishing a strong morning routine for years. Apparently it takes a global pandemic to get me to start adopting that! I started getting up around 5:00am to dedicate those early morning hours to projects that consume more of my mental energy, before my kids woke up. I also allocate the first 15-20 minutes of my morning to getting into the right headspace, reading something inspiring and planning my day. This is definitely a new routine that I will continue long after this COVID-19 crisis is over because it helps me start my day with a sense of accomplishment. No matter what else happens, at least I have a productive morning."
In these unprecedented times, it's likely you'll need to adjust some of your established household and work-related "rules." One AP employee shared how, prior to COVID-19, she expected her kids to follow certain guidelines regarding household chores, homework and television time. Now, she and her partner have learned to become more flexible with their rules.
"Before all this, my spouse worked outside of the house, my young kids were in school most of the day and I worked from home – uninterrupted. The 'rule' was, no television before homework; chores before playtime. I'd typically end my day at 5pm and focus on the kids and dinner, etc.
"Now? Some days my kids have playtime – including videogames – before they start their schoolwork because I need to be on a work call. We sometimes let the house stay messy far longer than we usually would and have multiple dinners in a row of pizza or burritos, because that's what we can handle amidst all our schedules. My husband and I often have to pause work multiple times throughout the day to help the kids, so I end up working in the evenings after they've wound down or are in bed. I know this situation won't last forever. But between now and then … I just want them to be as healthy and happy as possible through all this."
These are unprecedented times for everyone. We each deserve to give ourselves a break and recognise that our perfect pre-COVID-19 routines may not be reasonable or realistic right now. Even within Acceleration Partners, where our employees have years of remote work experience, working from home alongside their partners and kids has been a significant adjustment. And that's ok—we're all in this together. For now, our team members are committed to doing their best, taking things one day a time, controlling what they can control and adapting as they go.
Tricia Carroll is the Senior Manager of Human Resources at Acceleration Partners