Work from home became a norm under extraordinary circumstances that none of us were
prepared for – neither the pandemic, nor the fact of having to work from home. Remote and
flexible work is not conceptually new, given that women have been championing its cause for the
better part of a decade, especially working mothers.

A LinkedIn study that predated the pandemic shows that 85% women preferred to have more flexibility, including the ability to choose their hours and where they work from. However, the pandemic necessitated remote work through the week, in a forceful manner and without the choice to opt out and this, over time, failed to make way for a better working situation.

The 2020 Women in the Workplace study, co-authored by McKinsey and states that women have added 3 additional hours of caregiving to their days, over and above their full time jobs. In addition, remote working creates an asymmetry of information with no informal chats or water cooler conversations. Turns out, it has in fact been blurring the lines between work and personal life, resulting in a burnout.

There are a number of things that parents and employers can do to make this process eminently
more manageable, and move towards building a truly hybrid working environment wherein the
lines may begin to un-blur slowly.

Here are some simple strategies that parents can adopt to re-draw that line, given to us by Shruti Madhavan, Head – Corporate Strategic Accounts- Klay Preschools and Daycare.

Draw boundaries: there are some small things that can establish certain subtle boundaries, and
give the cues to your employer. These include (a) ensuring that your calendar reflects your plan for
the day clearly, establishing in the minds of your co-workers when you will be available, and (b)
dressing formally for work. This might be seemingly small, but sends a clear message as to
whether you are in “work mode” or not. More importantly, it helps one to internalise the distinction
between the two roles more effectively.

Use your time creatively & share the load: it is abundantly clear that fixing permanent work
timings for a given day, especially when working from home is near impossible. Get used to the
idea that there will be a lot of movement between the roles during the course of the day. So to
maximise your efficiency, Additionally, taking turns with your partner/ co-caregiver to feed and
bathe (among other things) your children is no-doubt effective, but if it is possible to fix the days
and chores each parent will take up to the extent that it is possible, that goes a long way in
bringing in some predictability to one’s own time.

Build a routine: Go into work at least once a week – the physical distinction between work and
personal life can be a powerful tool in unblurring the line, and not to mention the benefits that are
to be had from interfacing with colleagues every so often. But the reason for using the word
‘routine’ has to do with its capacity to (a) avoid work encroaching on personal time, and vice-
versa, and (b) to help children get accustomed to not seeing their parent/s at home during
specified times, and over time come to expect it with ease. The notion of routine, therefore, is ascritical for parents, as it is for children. The key here however is to maintain consistency and predictability, in so far as it is possible.

Be kind to yourself: Straddling two high-pressure worlds is difficult, and it is perfectly normal not
to be able to ‘do it all’, and be realistic and communicative about how much responsibility you can
take on. Shifting the lens from self criticism to self-care is the key – after all happy adults make for
happy children. To be most efficient and satisfied in both worlds, remember that your weekends
are sacrosanct. Use it to spend quality time with your family, engage in group activities, or to
prepare for the week ahead – that’s up to you!

Another thing to consider is to make some time out
everyday and step off the hamster wheel to focus on yourself, be it for exercise, meditation,
sports, art, or simply doing nothing. Preserving your own emotional balance is critical for giving
your child a happy and balanced environment.

Your child and career are all equally important – remind yourself of this everyday. Small
adjustments can go a long way in enabling you to actually have it all – the best of both worlds.
Take a step back, and get a good bird’s eye view of how things stand, and the answers will begin
to appear!

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