I cannot seem to have a conversation about business where this problem isn’t coming up, whether it’s someone who works in corporate America or someone who runs his or her own business.
In fact, it’s the first time that I’ve seen both sides of business—the huge corporations and the small business owners—simultaneously dealing with the same issue. And no, I’m not talking about health care.
Everyone is scrambling to create policies or approaches to manage the problem, a problem we’re affectionately calling “working while parenting.”
Here’s what it is, how it’s affecting businesses, and what you can do about it.
Working while parenting is a result of the growing number of remote workers.
It’s also a result of the incredibly high cost of childcare.
More and more parents, especially first-time parents, are trying to work around a child’s needs. But they’re not just trying to squeeze their job in around nap times. Some parents who work remotely are also trying to simultaneously homeschool their kids.
It’s affecting businesses in obvious ways. Employees are distracted and worse: some aren’t delivering on commitments because they just can’t do two jobs simultaneously.
In one case, a new remote employee hired to work for a small business did so little work that the company lost several clients, not to mention the lost wages they had paid to the employee.
So while we all want to be supportive and understanding of employee needs, it’s important to remember these two things:
- Everyone is replaceable. If an employee is taking advantage of your generous flex policy, let that employee go, no matter how painful you think it will be to hire someone else.
- Be crystal clear and up front before someone starts working remotely—especially if a new baby is on the way. Big companies now have to state up front that childcare arrangements must be made for remote workers. It’s aggressive, but it’s their policy, and now I get it.
As many of you know, we’re huge fans of our strategic partner CarrWorkplaces. They’re a perfect business partner for this sort of situation. Perhaps your business could use a coworking space like Carr for your remote workers—a dedicated childfree place away from the distractions and demands of a home office. Or maybe you’re in the same boat! Coworking could be the answer to solve your work-from-home pressures too.