Most of us have seen the infamous video. The year was 2017, and Professor Robert Kelly was in the middle of a live interview with BBC World News. As he discussed complex politics from his home in South Korea, Kelly’s 2 children suddenly burst into the room.
Kelly struggled to retain order as the jovial children ambled about the room. Then his wife, Jung-a Kim, dove into the fray to extract the kids. Her noble efforts helped make the video a viral sensation, reaching nearly 40 million views.
What can we learn from Kelly’s hilarious interview? First and foremost, working from home with your family introduces a unique set of challenges that don’t exist in most offices.
Millions of Americans moved their daily operations from their workplaces to their homes during the coronavirus pandemic. While many workers did so with a smile on their faces, others were less enthused about the idea.
Working from home would be enough of an upheaval on its own, but when you throw in school and summer camp closures across the nation, you get a recipe for chaos for many parents. Perhaps your job is flexible enough that you can manage homeschooling your kids, preparing meals, and all the other tasks that come with a family, but most families are stretched to the limit. Work duties falter at times, meetings are missed, and jubilant kids might barge into your office unannounced at any moment.
“During this pandemic, employers are seeing that workers can’t function well without accommodation for their family responsibilities,” explains a working-from-home analysis from the Harvard Business Review. “Will that lesson last after the crisis is over? American families want greater choices in determining how their work and their families fit together. Post-pandemic, can we create a system that fits real workers, not just idealized ones? If so, we have the opportunity to emerge from this crisis with both healthier employees and better performing organizations.”
We all strive for balance in our work and personal lives. Sometimes we succeed masterfully. Other times, we end up simultaneously disappointing both our coworkers and our family members. What matters is that we’re constantly striving for improvement.
There have always been distractions associated with work. In offices and other work facilities, they come in the form of noisy coworkers, loud equipment, unnecessary meetings, company events, and other annoyances.
Working in a home setting brings its own share of derailers. While different from those listed above, they share some common DNA. The biggest difference: most of us have acclimated to our workplace settings and know how to manage the distractions. At home, however, the distractions are closely tied to our everyday lives. They’re more immediate and intimate.
“Weeks into the new reality of stay-at-home orders, remote work, and being constantly bombarded by news of how bad things can get, we’re all getting used to new ways of getting business done,” says productivity expert Maura Thomas. “For many of us, one detrimental result is that we’re struggling more than ever to find the focus we need to be productive. This means the practice of attention management is more important than ever, not just for our productivity, but for our peace of mind.”
Here are some tips for improving the work-from-home experience for you, your business, and your family:
Learning how to manage your work-from-home experience is crucial because the trend isn’t going anywhere. If anything, it will become more of the norm in our post-coronavirus world. Take the time to figure out what helps you to bring your best self to work every day.