Something the past 18months has shown us is that we don’t want to and shouldn’t take anyone or anything for granted. We have missed our loved ones dearly due to lockdowns and travel restrictions, had cancelled or changed major events that are important to all of us, and, for far too many, lost people we care about. This has forced us all to reflect on what is important to us and, for so many, that means our families!
For many, they have had to balance the needs of their families in many ways while still working and managing the added burden of stress from a global pandemic (not to mention the many other national and global political, environmental, and economic crises). It’s a lot to bear and a burden on your employees (and likely you too).
One result of all this reflection is that families need flexibility from you and that employees are more willing than ever to demand that flexibility and put their families first as a priority.
We do want to caveat this by what and who we consider a family. We, at RemoteStar, define families inclusively to include anyone that may need your responsibility, care, attention, and love. To us, families come in all shapes, sizes and are varied in how they can come to be in your life. They are who you choose to care about and be responsible for. These families could include those without children but who support siblings and/or aging relatives, those who are parenting solo, those whose chosen family may not be “related” in a traditional sense, or even those whose family is far away and so more travel time is needed.
So many of you Employers are now often seeing family being listed as a higher priority than work for many more people than before and, if they aren’t flexing to support them, the employees will leave or, worse, disengage. We are seeing increasing statistics of people quitting roles to prioritize family and a better balance between family and work. Women have been impacted at greater rates than men and the numbers are staggering regarding who has chosen or been forced to leave the workforce or dramatically change their work in some unprecedented rates (Forbes, July 1, 2021).
So, what can You do?
Remote work allows for flexibility to do things such as attend doctors’ appointments with loved ones, manage days off school for children, attend the “important” events that now seem like a luxury after the past 18months, attend your child’s sports day, support those we care about when needed for them, not when it’s convenient for you. This flexibility with remote working also allows your employees to be productive and focused on the objectives and work that they need to do, and they will likely do it better now that the added stress of figuring out family priorities is minimized.
Re-think what Family means
Remote working can allow for so much but only if it is equal and fair. Don’t put biased restrictions or benefits on your team. For example, just because someone doesn’t have children, that shouldn’t mean that they have less right to flexibility. If a meeting is mandatory, make sure that is consistent for all, or better yet, evaluate if any meeting should be mandatory. Use your asynchronized culture fairly for all!
Don’t Add to The Stack
Now be careful, what remote working cannot do is force people into doing multiple roles (stacking) at the same time. Employees still need to have time to be with family versus be your employee. Even if you are striving to be flexible and offering remote working, be mindful of asking for more than you would from someone in an office and be wary of adding to the stack of roles being done at the same time,
If you do some of this (and there are many more ideas out there and on the way), you will reap the rewards of remote working for your team AND their families! Your fair and supportive flexibility will positively affect not only your team but those they care about, and that ripple effect is beautiful, especially in these uncertain times.
Please note — Again! Remote Working is not the same as Working From Home during a pandemic. During lockdown(s) is not a normal work time and you, as an employer, need to be aware and sensitive of that.