Working from home has been a huge adjustment for able businesses across the Ireland in the last two months. And yet, for many people, this is just one side of the coin; home schooling their children is the other side. Now that children have ‘returned to school’ after the Easter holidays, the struggle of juggling working from home and home schooling is again a reality for many employees and workers.
We spoke to Michael one of our clients about his experiences of running a business in unison with a home school for his three young children…
“Balancing online work meetings with providing home schooling, especially with three children under the age of 12, is tough. Thankfully my children’s school is using Microsoft Teams and OneNote for delivering lessons in real-time, which is helping them stay engaged not only with their learning, but also stay in touch with their friends, in a safe and productive environment. The added bonus is that they are being armed with the skills future workplaces are likely to require employees to have, along with a good dose of resiliency thrown in!”
Every parent will agree that combining the roles of a parent, teacher and employee all in one day, and doing those roles well, is very challenging. Here are our top tips for creating good balance and not losing your mind!
Schedule, schedule, schedule
“The number one strategy that is helping me to cover both roles is to carefully plan the working day around the school schedule” explains Michael. It is important to schedule calls carefully around scheduled lessons, if you are indeed structuring the home schooling like a day at school. Book meetings during lesson breaks if possible so that you can keep track of where your children are at and provide help as required. Special circumstances also call for special measures; use your work calendar to record all home-schooling lessons and work meetings so that you have a single view of the day.
Collaboration isn’t just online meetings
Whilst school lessons are underway, keeping in touch and collaborating with colleagues is still very possible. Microsoft Teams enables you to continue communicating with colleagues, provide input and collaborate on projects. “Using the chat function or quick calling, I can be connected to colleagues in a second, making 1:1 meetings and collaborating on documents easy”, adds Michael. Email is also a valuable tool and, since almost everyone is in front of the screen instead of on the road, emails are likely to be read and responded too much quicker.
The beauty of Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams is that a variety of different communication options are pulled together in to one integrated solution, which is easily accessed from only from you PC but any mobile device, tablet or phone.
The right equipment
For the unavoidable times when a meeting has to coincide with home-schooling, having good quality equipment can make all the difference. Noise cancelling headphones mean that you can join a meeting without any unwanted background noise, and the kids can focus on learning without having to be a part of your meeting! Michael admits that his set have saved a difficult situation on more than one occasion over the last 2 months: “I’ve got a great set by Sennheiser, which are Microsoft Teams certified and wireless, so I can move whenever I need to”.
Michael contends that one of the most important strategies he has isn’t related to technology at all: “I’ve found that prepping lunches and snacks before the day gets underway helps maximise the time available for online calls and meetings between the lessons. It also reduces those ‘hangry’ moments that most parents are unfortunately familiar with; and suffer from ourselves sometimes!”
Whilst having strategies like these can offer balance, sometimes the support of colleagues can make all the difference. “What has been brilliant throughout the current situation has been the understanding of colleagues, which reassures you that you aren’t alone”, explains Michael. “We are all in the same boat and supporting each other and sharing tips on how to survive homeworking and home-schooling is the best way to get through this”.
If you need any help in supporting your employees create the best working from home and home-schooling environment, get in touch today. We can offer advice on solutions and equipment to make your day that bit easier!