Companies Settle Into New Normal With Focus on Working Parents

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What do you do when you’re on a Zoom meeting and someone’s child suddenly pops up on the screen?

It’s bound to happen in this new reality, where parents are forced to run day cares and remote classrooms while keeping up with professional duties. And these aren’t the only employees with caregiving responsibilities; many are also caring for parents or spouses. This new normal is something we need to plan for if we’re going to support our teams so that they can work to their full potential despite the challenges facing us all. Your response to the hypothetical kindergartener’s intrusion would not only set the tone for your meeting, but also send a message to employees about the culture and expectations of your workplace.

My company, WorkReduce, consists entirely of remote workers, many of whom are parents. As the pandemic shut down day cares, schools, and community support networks, these parents had no choice but to integrate their family lives more fully into their business lives. These parents demonstrated amazing creativity and commitment in meeting their professional responsibilities under extraordinary circumstances, but it quickly became clear that they could benefit from extra support and understanding. We made accommodations accordingly, and we discovered that doing so did not only help our families, but it also made our company stronger and cultivated a better work environment for all.

COVID Could Drive Parents Out of the Workforce Unless Employers Act

Parents clearly want to take on the dual challenge. This was recently highlighted at a panel my company held in August, titled “WorkReduce Live: What Back to School Means for Working Parents.” During the panel, data from a survey of employees at a large consumer packaged goods (CPG) company was shared. According to that data, no one at the company had left the workforce due to COVID-19 over the summer.

“As we move further into the school year, the stress will really come out and there may be different decisions,” said the company’s manager of global employee wellness. . .

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