Supporting Working Parents/Caregivers Amid COVID

Hi Geeks,

I’m wondering if anyone has suggestions/recommendations/best practices that their organizations are implementing to support employees who no longer have child or dependent care. Specifically, how do you re-norm on work and communication expectations? What are some ideas for communicating this across the org, especially with managers who may not fully comprehend the unprecedented challenges that many employees may be facing?

Many folks on our team with kids are working until 1am-3am since they can’t get much done during waking hours with kids around. We’ve also been struggling with managers’ expectations to have emails/texts/slack messages replied to within minutes when that’s just not the reality.

I know this is uncharted territory but wanted to see if anyone has started working on something or if we just wanted to post some ideas here. I also recognize that we are so privileged to still be fully operational unlike many organizations at the moment.

Besides getting your feedback and ideas, I’m reaching out to teammates with kids to understand their challenges, collect ideas and present a set of norms/expectations for this new way of working.

Hi Alicia! Happy to share some of our resources from TiLT. We recently wrote a blog about it here and I pulled this specific resource from our platform, if helpful. Let me know if you need any additional support!

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Hi Alicia, tough situation that lots of working parents are finding themselves in right now. We have supported a number of our HR clients with a webinar from a Parenting specialist who was able to provide some good advice and some suggestions about managing time, mental health and what are realistic expectations. It helps to create these forums where employees can get together to share and normalise their experiences, otherwise many people think it is just them that isn’t managing things. In terms of getting managers to understand the challenge of working and parenting, I would suggest you start from the top. Have you got senior Exec who have children? Ensure they are getting the message out about current expectations, and are making this clear to leaders below them. Ensure there is good role modelling of this, allowing flexibility in how and when people work and engage. People look for signals about how to behave in a changing environment, make sure the signals and messages are telling them what behaviours are appropriate and what is not right now. Hopefully, a few more weeks and we will have kids back at school!


My advice is to start with the deliverables and what it takes to get there. If you start with the results that you expect or tasks that needs to be done you can already find that there is a little less to expect due to cancellations or postponed events.
Than you can decide what activities to get to the results or task are absolutely required. Turns out that a lot of meetings can do without them, if they for instance send their update info to the moderator and can read/follow the decisions /punch list items right after.
Maybe there are even some administrative tasks that can be a little less detailed.

My point: often we say we work 40 hours, but effectively we only work 28 hours. As long as we agree on the deliverables, results etc. there is no need to stay so rigid on those hours on the clock.

The other option is to review some of the tasks and re-assign them temporarily to people without children, who are able to add a few more hours. Maybe some talents who like to rotate or explore other departments…

We put a PTO donation program in place so that people who have unexpected needs for more time off can leverage some additional PTO, and others who have an abundance can share with those who really need it right now.

Additionally as a new mom returning to work with no child care, I added it right into my email signature to note I am working flexible hours so people know not to expect responses right away, or know why I am emailing at odd hours. On days where baby is demanding more attention, I put a similar message as an OOO response.