21% of Parents Reduce Work Hours!

Tim Sackett COVID-19, Employee Relations, Performance, Women in the Workplace, Workplace Flexibilty

This past week, at my office, a bunch of my coworkers had their kids “return” to school, and by “return” I mean they put on their backpack, went out to the front porch, and took the first day of school picture for the Gram, and then marched right back inside and got a video call with their new class and teacher! Welcome back to school!

A recent survey showed that 21% of parents are reducing their work hours to help educate their kids. With that reduction in hours, comes a reduction in pay, although, teachers seem to be fully paid through this, but I digress. The other aspect is, for the first time in decades, we see mothers leaving the workforce in droves to take on the educational responsibility of their families. This isn’t a positive for gender equity issues in the workplace!

At my office, one of my Moms asked if she could bring her kids into the office, and use the empty conference room to keep an eye on her kids, and still get her work done – a way of making sure the kids were able to start this virtual learning with the assistance they needed. This blended environment actually worked out just fine. The kids were probably better behaved at the office then they would have been at home, and my coworker was able to work her full hours and make sure her kids got the help they needed. Win-Win!

Would I have even thought of having kids in the workplace, going to school, alongside their parents a year ago? Hell no! But, once in a lifetime problems call for flexibility and understanding.

True Work-Life balance is about ensuring both work and life obligations can be met equally. You can either make this difficult for all involved, or you can jump out of your comfort zone and try some stuff. My coworkers don’t need their kids in the office every day, but sometimes they will, and we’ll make those accommodations. I don’t want to lose my working Moms, they are some of our top performers and I value them greatly!

I’m not sure we are creating the future workplace. I think most working parents would prefer that their tax dollars are spent ensuring their kids are getting a fulltime in-person, professionally trained educator, delivering instruction, and the socialization of being in school with kids their own age. But you never know. Some workplaces might find that they can work and incorporate this societal dynamic of educating the youth and not relying on public education.

We see many high margin businesses now offer onsite daycare services already, and parents love this! Making the leap to offering onsite schooling, really isn’t adding much more, and imagine the benefit top talent, who are parents, would reap!? Great private education, within earshot of your desk (so to speak), and the ability to better utilize those precious hours in a day more efficiently.

I think the pandemic will force all of us to look at the world differently. Public education and higher education have shown they are expensive and can’t handle change very well. Maybe it’s time for parents and companies to show the world there’s a better model for educating our children? Going back to the 1950s – where women stay at home – isn’t the answer I’m looking for.