3 quick tips for parents working from home

Good morning there my friends.

Today marks day 1 of Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s emergency order today which requires Oahu residents to stay at home and work from home. It went effect yesterday, March 23, at 4:30 p.m. and will “end” on April 30 at 4:30 p.m. However, the mayor also stated that “I believe that in all likelihood that it’ll be extended beyond April 30.” I think that is a very realistic expectation given the pace at which things are changing.

So, for today and the foreseeable future, even if you are in a critical infrastructure role there’s a good chance that you’ll be working at your home residence. If you have kids, especially young ones like mine who are not at school due for obvious reasons, I’m sure you’re discovering that this is more of a challenge than you thought.  I have been doing this for years – going back and forth between working at the home, the office and meeting with clients and it’s worked for me. However parents, I understand that this might be your new normal now, so here are 3 tidbits of advice I’ve picked up along my journey to share with you that might help with the transition.

1. Create a different space

I know this sounds obvious, but clearing off a corner of the kitchen table and calling it your “office” isn’t going to cut it. If you’re lucky enough to have a spare bedroom, re-purpose that room into a proper office. Don’t have the space – change a corner into a work area and make it clear to everyone in the household that when you occupy that space, to not be disturbed. It’s also going to help you go into “work mode” and actually get things done. The key here is to set up boundaries – kids and adults alike need them and unless you create a space, your kids won’t know when they cross it.

2. Clear queues

Now that you’ve set up a relatively permanent working space, what queues do you have to let everyone know that work is in progress? When my kids were younger and I had a room for an office, they would sometimes burst through the door while I was on the phone or video call. Seems like a common problem (see: https://youtu.be/Mh4f9AYRCZY – hilarious by the way). I used to put an orange cone outside the door to signal that work was in progress and not to disturb. Having something fun and simple like an orange cone, do not disturb sign or even a printed out stop sign is a good way to let others know how to behave.

Another clear queue is your attire. Your kids may be used to seeing you get dressed and go to work. If you’re in PJ’s, it’s romper time, right? So, instead of trying to work in home clothes, dress as if you were leaving to go to the office to set a clear message to everyone in the household that this is a work day, only from home.

3. Fun time

Now that you’ve created a space, erected boundaries and set up clear queues to let everyone know that work is in progress, you may want to communicate fun time with others in the household. For example every 2 hours you could take a 15 minute walk with the kids, have a video call with Tutu or just have “look at the sky” time with the kids to find shapes in the clouds. You’ll find that these small rewards will not only keep the kids happy but helps with your own sanity.

Hopefully these ideas help. More to come including the top tools of the trade for working remotely.

Stay tuned and stay safe out there.

-Attila