Family-friendly workplace redefined

With entire countries on lockdown, millions are engaging in work from home routines for the first time in their lives. Due to this forced or volunteer social distancing, many parents are now dealing with the new normal of having to work while parenting full time. This quarantine can be extra challenging for multi-generational families, families living in close quarters and multi-family homes as can be the norm in Pakistan.

As school and childcare closures become widespread, many working parents are now faced with taking on a third role of teaching. Flexible work arrangements give workers freedom over when and where they fulfil their job responsibilities. As the needs of working parents can vary greatly, different types of flexible work arrangements support parents to care for their children and families.

COVID-19 is uncovering an underlying problem regarding parents’ access to family-friendly community resources, including child care, education services and recreational facilities. Most sensitized are parents with young children who rely on the available resources of their local community to help with day-to-day child care and social support. Parental health and well-being depends on resources from both the workplace, community and its supportive resources. The provision of these resources might reduce work-family conflict; and therefore a prolific mental health risk in the general population.

With people under lockdown, companies are trying to keep office culture intact, spirits high, ease mental and financial strain and have a little fun during a time of unprecedented stress for workers. This is being done by creating a virtual office culture; one that embraces both children and pets, the newest additions to the workplace. Executives are normalizing the presence of kids on calls. Companies are organizing fun family activities during much-needed lighthearted breaks for overwhelmed working parents.

If ever there was a time to show care, this is it. People are juggling new responsibilities, fears and problems, and they need to hear their managers and leaders say out loud that they understand, that the company is behind them, that you’ll get through this new situation together. We have the power to not let this pandemic define our worst selves, but rather for it to define our very best as a species. To care for those that cannot care for themselves and to demonstrate courage in the face of this threat.