Balancing Remote Work and Childcare/Caregiving Responsibilities

GWC’s annual Halloween party — one of our favorite holidays where all of our staff’s children are invited!

Last week, amid mounting concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, Girls Who Code made the decision to allow all employees to work from home until further notice.

We felt strongly that this decision was made in the best interest of our staff. At the same time, we knew we needed to address the unique difficulties of remote work for employees with competing work and caregiving obligations.

Working from home with a new baby, a toddler, a teen, an elderly family member, or sick relative is no small feat. And with so much uncertainty, working remotely can add stress to already stressful circumstances.

So, this week, we sent an email to our staff outlining broad guidelines for parents and caregivers working from home, and also the support that we could provide them.

We know we are only as strong as our team.

It’s our hope that more companies, in addition to mandating remote work, also take the necessary subsequent steps of acknowledging and accommodating the challenges that come with balancing remote work and caregiving.

With that in mind, we’re sharing the email sent to our staff as a resource for others. And we welcome your additions to it.

Stay safe and healthy,

Dr. Tarika Barrett

Chief Operating Officer

Girls Who Code

To: Parents and Caregivers

Date: Monday 3/16/2020

Subject: Balancing Remote Work and Caregiving Responsibilities

Team,

We recognize that the majority of our employees who are parents likely now have childcare responsibilities at home during the work day due to the escalating nature of COVID-19’s impact on schools, childcare facilities and childcare givers’ availability.

While individual families have unique needs, all of us (leadership included!) are in some way simultaneously juggling our workloads with our duties as caregivers to our children.

Below, are some broad guidelines for parents around balancing remote work with the childcare responsibilities:

1.Communicate consistently with your manager: We ask employees who are parents to maintain consistent communication with your manager about your respective schedule and current child care responsibilities.

Let your manager know how far you are from our remote work expectations (outlined below) and how close you can get to them (i.e. can you work 4 hours during the work day, with some time made up in the evening?). We understand that staff may need to utilize non-traditional schedules in order to get some work done while taking care of their families.

Remote Work Expectations:

  • Have a fast, consistent wifi connection
  • Have an internet-enabled laptop or desktop computer and a phone
  • Have a distraction-free environment to work in
  • Have a private, quiet place to take phone calls and meetings
  • Be able to work a full 8-hour day within core business hours (btw 8am-6pm)

2. Prioritize the most urgent/high leverage work tasks and deliverables: With your manager’s support and guidance, please prioritize the most urgent tasks and deliverables on your plate that will need to be completed on a daily/weekly basis. Secondary tasks may have to be placed on the back burner at this time. This is a great time to work on a streamlined set of Q2 priorities with your manager.

3. Clarify which meetings are necessary for you to attend: Be clear, with your manager, on what meetings are absolutely necessary for you to attend, and what can be optional, given your need to spend time caring for your child during the day.

4. Share best practices with fellow GWC parents: Please share any best practices or resources you have around keeping your children engaged and learning at home with fellow parents at GWC on our #parentsconnect Slack channel. We will also schedule an optional bi-weekly parents connect call for parents who want to share best practices and resources together.

All of this said, your health and wellbeing and that of your family is our highest priority and should be yours too. Please prioritize taking care of yourself and your children and reach out with specific concerns not addressed here.

Be well,

People & Culture

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