How Can I Balance My Business and Parenting?
New parents often find themselves under large amounts of stress when returning to work after taking paternity leave; catching up with missed projects, feeling the need to prove themselves, and balance child-care responsibilities with work commitments.
There also remains the difficulty new parents face during leave itself, when they may find it difficult to switch off from work to care for their child, or feel they are unable to cope without the routine framework of their usual job.
However, there are simple ways that business leaders can help new parents to balance work and parenting through taking advantage of developments in technology. Here Chris Martin, CTO at PowWowNow, provides some solutions for Total Business.
Flexible working is an important strategy that enables new parents to balance work life around family commitments more easily. Employers can take advantage of developments in technology which mean staff can work with teams more efficiently and from any location. By putting in place clear flexible working policies and working with employees on a case-to-case basis to create a bespoke working plan that best meets their individual needs, businesses can create a supportive environment for parents returning to the workplace.
Organisations should provide appropriate devices that are set-up with the necessary productivity, communication and collaboration tools to create a team culture that supports and embraces the idea of team members working from anywhere. This means new parents will be able to contribute to their day job through a ‘work from anywhere’ environment where, if needed, they can transition from everyday parenting tasks to everyday work tasks smoothly.
Engendering a positive and supportive environment in the workplace for new parents can also be done through establishing clearly defined times that they are offline. These should be communicated to other team members so that next points of contact at those times are well established and there is no room for confusion. This can involve putting in place simple norms such as the office use of a shared Google calendar to ensure all workers are aware of their colleagues’ schedules and other commitments.
Predefined and regular checkpoints for new parents with their teams are also important for ensuring all employees feel connected and up-to-date. This can involve taking advantage of tools such as Trello towards the beginning of the week to allocate and manage tasks and projects and allow anyone working away from the office to stay up to date easily. Instant messaging apps can also be used for one to one or team chats, allowing employees to maintain constant, efficient communication.
Other communications solutions tools can be used to connect workers wherever they are. Screen-sharing using web conferencing platforms, for example, gives all participants in a conference call the access to files on their screens. While web-based file sharing solutions like Google Drive, Dropbox and WeTransfer let workers use documents when working away from the office and helps to improve efficiency during a collaborative project.
Webinar and webcasting tools can also be used to bring businesses closer together by allowing large groups to communicate with one another effectively. This means everyone can be involved in performance updates, company strategy and successes; allowing new parents to feel involved and up to date with news within the workplace even if they are not physically present in the office.
The wealth of technologies currently available to businesses provide leaders with a chance to re-evaluate working cultures and encourage a positive change to improve inclusivity in the workplace. Especially so new parents do not feel stigmatised for their choice to balance having children with their careers. Parents on leave and returning to work from parental leave will feel better supported and will benefit from an improved work-life balance and reduced stress.