Remote Working Blog Series: A New Family Reality Amidst COVID-19

Blog 19 Mar 2020 . Katie Bradshaw

As a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic, employees have been displaced from their traditional office locations to work remotely in an effort to practice social distancing. For some, this is a new way of working. For others, it’s an adjustment working from home alongside partners, children, and housemates. 

In the following weeks, Pontoon Solutions will publish a blog series written by remote colleagues sharing their experiences and tips for navigating this new world of work. 

Join our #remoteworkchallenge on LinkedIn and Twitter by sharing your remote work setup or commenting with your own tips and experiences! 


A new family reality amidst COVID-19 


The global COVID-19 pandemic and the important efforts to flatten the curve have dramatically changed family life for so many.  My family’s new reality is distinctly similar to so many other families.  While I already worked from home prior to this event, my husband’s office recently shut down and has sent everyone home to work remotely.  My children’s schools have been closed indefinitely and class lessons have been moved to online learning platforms.   

This past weekend, I found myself with the rest of parental Twitter diligently trying to prepare for this by creating colorful schedules to follow for our first day of homeschooling and bookmarking free online resources to keep the kids focused and engaged.  What I quickly learned on Monday morning was that I had grossly underestimated what homeschooling would entail. Gone were the colorful blocks in our schedule for legos, playdoh, and art. We were suddenly looking at a full day of a quadrilaterals math lesson, geometry test, social studies passages, science experiments, reading comprehension, speech therapy, cursive, mindset journaling, coding, and class discussions via Google hangouts – all in a day’s work for my nine year old. My five year old’s lessons are much looser, which has meant balancing his boredom with our daughter’s packed schedule. This left my husband and I with less time to solely dedicate to our full time job responsibilities. 

Bridging Comforts of Yesterday with Today’s Adventure 

I am fortunate in the sense that I have been a remote worker now for nearly two years and had some idea of what this new normal would be for the four of us but it still flipped our world upside down.  As a member of our global marketing team, working from home is business as usual for us. We are well accustomed to video meetings, MS Teams collaboration and multi-time zone coordination. We socialize daily and have built an amazing team culture within our digital office space.  While my role leading and running our events has been brought to a standstill, I find comfort and consistency in my teammates and already having the digital tools in place to quickly pivot and provide value in other areas while we navigate through the current global environment. 

Suddenly having my family at home with me though has been a major adjustment and disruption to my daily work life. I am thankful to work for such a flexible organization that really puts our employees’ health and well-being before anything. I feel completely supported while we iron out the kinks of this new reality and am encouraged to step away and focus on the kids as needed. 

It’s All a Balancing Act: Tips I’ve Picked Up 

So, in the short time period since this adjustment, here is what’s working for us as we balance this new work/family routine: 

  1. Designate school and work areas for each family member.   
  2. Organize the day the night before or early morning but expect things to go off schedule and know that’s ok. We are mindful of our work obligations and schedule lessons the kids can complete solo during times we both need to be focused on our work. My husband and I also alternate blocks of time so we can concentrate solely on our own work during the other person’s block. And don’t forget to schedule lunch! A common WFH pitfall of mine, even before the rest of the family joined me at home. 
  3. Focus on your own mental health. The anxiety of the situation can be overwhelming, and we need to give ourselves grace and time to find the new balance.  Take a moment to simply breathe and refocus on priorities. Reassure the kids as we find our new routines. Live with empathy and compassion, as we all need it right now. 
  4. Enjoy the family time. With our commutes shortened and all the sports and activities canceled, we have more time together as a family. We are lightening the mood with more family movie nights, game nights, and family walks after our school/work day. Our normal screen and sweets limitations are relaxed (aka non-existent).  
  5. Embrace these new digital experiences. Our working and school lives as we’ve known it will likely change forever after this experience.  Adopt to the new working methods you’re experiencing and encourage your kids to use their tablets beyond Netflix and Disney+.  We created a kid’s gmail account for my daughter this week so she can receive emails from friends, family, and pen pals. It brightens her day and is educational as she practices her typing and communication skills.   

How is your family adjusting to this new work/life experience?  Do you have any tips and tricks to share as you create a new balance between working and school at home?  Comment on social to share your experience! 

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