Working from home and managing family responsibilities

A young father working from home tries to make a phone call while his daughter plays with his computer.
  20 April 2020  NWMPHN   

This article was written by North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network’s HR Manager, Andrea Hatcher. It was first published on our staff intranet.

Many people have dreamed about the flexibility of a job that allows them to work from home from time to time. The arrival of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), however, has meant that many of us are now working from home for most of the time. With most children now at home too, for parents this has meant extra challenges in trying to balance the demands of their job and home life.

Although parents may have had an occasional working-from-home day to look after a sick child, the reality of working every single day at home with your kids could be quite difficult for many people.

You may need to discuss with your line manager some flexibility in order to manage your work. This could be in the form of:

  • Reducing your hours on a temporary basis (i.e. converting to part-time hours)
  • Taking some annual leave days
  • Starting your work day earlier
  • Taking chunks of time off during the ‘normal work day’ and working at an earlier or later time to make up hours

It is important that you discuss all of this with your line manager first. Then together communicate any changes clearly to your team and stakeholders so that they know what’s going on and can provide support you may need. You should use your Outlook calendar to block any times when you aren’t officially working, so meetings can be made when you are available.

Your HR team is available to discuss options with you. Please reach out.

You may also have access to your organisation’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) service for free and confidential advice at this time.

Tips for effectively working from home during the coronavirus outbreak, when you have kids

  1. Create a schedule
  2. Communicate, even more than you think is necessary
  3. Set boundaries with your children
  4. Take breaks
  5. Alternate with your partner or other close friend or family member if possible
  6. Remember to take care of yourself

Some useful resources

  1. Managing your family’s cabin fever. This interesting article from Associate Professor Terry Bowles from the University of Melbourne, discusses how families self-isolating together can bring the worst out in each other. There are tips on how to avoid becoming a shark, turtle or fox, and instead, channeling your penguin, teddy-bear or owl.
  2. Advice for parents, carers and guardians. This useful resource from the Victorian Department of Education and Training provides tips on how to talk to your children about coronavirus. It also details what to look out for in children showing signs of distress as well as highlighting the importance of parents looking after themselves at this time too.
  3. Supports to help expecting and new parents. For people who are expecting a child or have a new baby, PANDA can provide very specific support at this time. 

More resources

To support you when talking to your child

To share with children and young people