Let's face it COVID-19 threw all of us for a loop. No one saw it coming and no one could have predicted it's impact. An impact that was felt by working mom and dads, who now had to work from home with kids. I have been working from home for years with kids so I was already prepared for the stress that it can bring to your working life. My youngest finally started Kindergarten this year and I had pure excitement. I thought my working days would now be uninterrupted finally and I could get more work done. Boy was I ever wrong! COVID-19 changed that and instead of having no kids at home while I worked, I now had three young kids ranging from age 11 to 4. Here are three tips that I have used over the years and now during the new normal of working from home with young kids.
Tap into your inner child
Sometimes when you are working at home with kids, you have to just surrender and tap into your inner child. Take a break and do what they do. My son likes to tickle me when I am working and sometimes it is at the wrong time, such as when I am under a deadline crunch. But I have to admit that when he tries his best to tickle me, it comes as a wanted break from the stress of what I am doing. I look at this little face and see how much he wants me to play with him and I do just that. I chase him around the house and we both laugh. I then I realize how much I needed his little distraction. Take regular recesses with your kids when you are home working with them. It is a win win idea.
Make your children part of the team
Working at home with kids can be made easier if you just include them in what you are doing. Make your children understand how important your work is to you by making them part of your work from home team. For example, I made my eight year daughter print manager. As print manager, her job was to collect everything from the printer that I had printed. She was also in charge of making sure that the printer was well stocked with paper. She rather enjoyed that and was very enthusiastic whenever I printed anything. If you have stapling to be done or letters to stuff or hole punching, put the kids to work and make up creative titles that they will enjoy. This will encourage them to value what you do since they are now part of the team.
Encouraging your children to be entrepreneurs is very beneficial even if they don't become entrepreneurs later in life. It encourages them to become driven. It teaches them not to give up no matter what work environment they are in. While you are working, encourage them to set up their own business at home. Help them to understand the different parts of a business. Sales, Marketing, Accounting and customer service. Help them to understand how important it is to accomplish tasks while they are running their own created business. This will in turn help them to understand why mom or dad needs to get work done while they are at home.
Bottomline, kids don't always have to be seen as a threat to working from home. Make them a strong and fun ally. Take a tickle break, it can increase your productivity.
We have all worked with someone who always sees the glass half empty. They refuse to see the positives in any situation and as a result can be a drain on other employees and your business. How can you deal with the continued "negative Nancy or Steve, or April in your organization? What can you do to help them see the brighter side of things? Here are three tips that can certainly help your negative thinking employees.
Get to the core!
I think we can all agree that people are not born negative thinking or born without a ray of sunshine. So what happened along the way to make them always see the negative side of things? I once worked with a guy who complained about everything. He was really good at what he did but it was a battery drain to have a conversation with him. It was exhausting! Finally, one day I said Bob(not his real name), why is the glass always half empty? He paused for a bit! I don't think anyone had ever asked him that question. He thought about and said, "well, I guess I get it from my dad, he was always negative" It was a learned deposition! His father was negative so therefore he just mimicked this behaviour his entire life. But having this conversation helped him to think about and be more mindful of how he was perceived by myself and other members of the team. Getting to the core is the first step in creating awareness in your negative employee. Help them to start to think about the root of their thinking.
Build them up!
Normally a negative thinking employee has trouble seeing how valuable they are as a person or even as an employee. Add an extra layer to your performance review process by incorporating positive affirmation into their daily work day. It could be that early morning meeting where you tell everyone how great you think they are. Tell your employee one thing every morning that makes them know how much you value them. It could be as simple as saying: "Steve, it was awesome that you got all those shipments out yesterday even though your day was super challenging. We appreciate that so much." Or "Eva, one of our customers called in and mentioned how kind you were to her on the phone and how well you handled her problem" Building up your employee or employees using small daily affirmation goes along way in increasing their productivity and their overall attitude.
Encourage healthy mistakes
One of the reasons why your employee might be negative is flat out fear. They have a fear of making mistakes! Using negative language on a constant basis is their way of creating low expectations and therefore mask future mistakes. Encourage an environment that allows your employee or employees to make healthy mistakes. A healthy mistake is one in which you always see the positive aspect of it and one in which you always learn from it. This approach will allow you to help break down some of the barriers that your employee tend to create with their negative thoughts.
Bottomline, having a negative employee or employees can have a dramatic impact on the team overall and your business. Finding out why they are the way there are, validating them and encouraging them to be themselves by making healthy mistakes is very important. Change won't happen overnight, it will be an ongoing endeavour. If the employee is good at what they do, it might be worth the effort to helping them see that the glass is half full instead of half empty.
Let's face it, no one saw COVID-19 coming! The effects of COVID-19 has had huge economic implications on many businesses- small and large. Most businesses went from having normal operations to grave uncertainty. In the middle of this uncertainty is your employees. Some are able to work from home. Some are having to manage kids while their work from home. Virtual meetings are the new norm and what you see on the screen does not always show the true emotional toll that COVID-19 has taken on your employees. Here are three ways you can support your employees and let them know that you care about their well-being!
Create non-work related virtual meetings
Having regular check-in meetings with your employees without it being about work is very important. Let them know that you want to connect to them from a human perspective. Give your employee regular opportunities to talk or vent about some of the challenges that they are facing due to COVID-19. This can be done one on one or through establish small groups. Let them know that you can relate to their struggles and that you are there to support them through this difficult time.
Create COVID vacation time
I know from my own work from home experience that dealing with kids while working is not fun. Couple that with having to guide your children through online learning because schools are closed is not easy either. There are days, where not having to think about work and just focusing on my family life is what I need. Creating COVID vacation time can be a day here and a day there or if that is not feasible, create COVID vacation times that are given in blocks of hours. For example, don't schedule meetings or work between 11 and 1 for your employees or for certain employees allowing those employees just to do nothing. A time for themselves or time alone with their kids to just feel some relief!
Have honest talks about the financials
If your company is experiencing financial loss due to COVID-19, chances are at some point, you will have to make some important financial decisions. Decisions that will ultimately affect all or some of your employees. It is crucial to have those financial talks with your employees about what you think might happen financially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Will there be layoffs now or in the future? Will some have to take a pay cut so that you can afford to keep everyone employed? Help your employees navigate through what is happening financially. Include them if possible in ways in which you can all work together as a team to come up with different revenue streams to help combat dismal sales due to the pandemic. The idea here is to create an inclusiveness that will allow employees to further understand current and future financial decisions. You might not be able to save everyone's job but sharing financials might help make them understand cuts if it ever came to that.
About the Author
Dahlia Drummond is a mom, wife and entrepreneur. She has worked in trade show and events industry for years which was highly impacted by COVID-19. Working from home and supporting her clients through this pandemic has been difficult especially working with kids at home. She has seen reduced workload due to COVID-19 and as a business person has had to understand and deal with reduced revenue streams as well. But she remains optimistic that we will get through this and one day COVID-19 will just be a memory.