Working from home and caring for others
Trying to balance work life and family life can be a struggle. There are lots of options in place to help you achieve the right balance that works for you and your service.
Find handy advice for employees and employers from ACAS.
Making changes to how you work
We know childcare and other caring responsibilities can be difficult right now. Many of you would usually have support from family members or childcare providers and this isn’t possible now. Discuss any changes you would like to make with your manager.
Some options to consider are:
- working flexibly. During this uncertain time wherever possible you'll be allowed to work flexibly which includes:
- working from home
- completing work outside of standard working times (such as evenings and weekends)
- working in shifts as a team to allow colleagues to juggle work and caring responsibilities
- agreeing a work plan with your manager
- taking leave if there are days when it isn’t practical for you to work: you can use annual leave, flexi or TOIL. Taking leave may be difficult if your service is critical, and you may need to step in to support your teams. Discuss this with your manager as they may have a different solution
- check the employee FAQs for regular updates and advice
This is an unusual situation, but we completely trust that you will do your best to work as many of your contracted hours as you can during these times. Many of you are already going above and beyond to keep services going and we are very grateful.
If caring responsibilities stop you from being able to work your full contracted hours, you will continue to receive your usual pay. Though for childcare, during the school holidays (such as May half term) this will not apply, and you’ll need take leave as normal.
Once you've worked out how you will manage your hours and have agreed a plan with your manager, here are some tips on how to work from home with children at home too.
Working from home with children
Working from home with children is hard, but with a few simple tweaks it doesn’t have to be as impossible as it might seem. We’ve done some research and compiled a list of top tips:
Do the maths
Children aren’t learning the whole time they're at school. In fact, some estimates suggest they do as little as 90 minutes of actual learning per day. Equally, you’re not productive all day.
Being at home means you get those commuting hours back, plus there are fewer inessential meetings. Base your expectations of a productive day on how much actual uninterrupted working time and learning time you get in a typical day.
Understand the different types of work
Not all work needs to be done in a locked and soundproofed room. If your children need your presence but not your full attention, there is work you can do in the same room as them.
Equally there is work that can’t be interrupted. Although the famous example of South Korea expert Robert Kelly, who was rudely and hilariously interrupted while doing a BBC interview, demonstrates children don’t always respect these distinctions. Organise your work and your children so that you can be occasionally present with them during the day even with your laptop on your knee.
Rethink the timings of the day
There's no need to get the children up at 7am. You may not relish getting up at 5am to get some work done but remember this is temporary, and you may find you like it whilst giving you the opportunity to get a few hours work in while your children sleep.
Don’t try to teach your children
No one wants their mum or dad to become Miss or Sir. Instead, work alongside the children searching up the answers together. There are some fantastic websites you can explore together including:
If your school holds lessons online this is also a great opportunity to catch up on work that requires more focus.
Remember this isn’t a permanent situation
Allow the house to be a little messier than normal. Make the most of TV and streaming video if it keeps your kids distracted. Remember that many, many people are going to be in this situation.
Try to enjoy the company of your children
Give your children the space to dive deeply into topics that interest them. Don’t conform to a school timetable if it isn’t working. Help them find a way out of that boredom; it could help you to get to know your children better.
Useful resources and information for families and children
Take a look at more resources that could help you: