As of January 2021, 56 percent or a majority of adult Americans worked from home according to findings of a Gallup poll. Based on results of the 2021 State of Remote Work report by Buffer, 97.6 percent of employees currently working from home want to continue doing so throughout the length of their career.
Among them, 32 percent liked the flexible schedule, 25 percent liked being able to work anywhere, 22 percent liked having no commute, 11 percent liked the extra time for family, and eight percent liked being at home. There is also a flipside to the setup, though, with 27 percent struggling with how to unplug from work after the work period, 16 percent having trouble with communication and collaboration with co-workers, 16 percent battling loneliness, 15 percent having to deal with distractions at home, 12 percent having difficulty to stay motivated, and seven percent finding it hard being in a different time zone from workmates.
Additional Stress on Parents with School-age Children
There is a separate set of data focused on problems of parents with children from five to 12 years old, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in March this year. The survey, done from October 8 to November 13, 2020, covered 1,290 parents whose children were in a public or private school during the school year 2020 to 2021. Among them, 45.7 percent had children doing remote learning, 30.9 percent had children going to school in person, and 23.4 percent had children doing a hybrid of virtual and in-person learning.
Among all the parents, 46.6 percent said they experienced a lot or moderate emotional distress, 17.7 percent had insomnia, 16.5 percent had higher intakes of alcohol or drugs, and 13.5 percent had difficulty managing their emotions. Overall, 38.3 percent lost jobs, 21.5 percent worried about job security, 12.6 percent felt a conflict between working or doing childcare, and 10.5 percent had childcare problems.
Parents of children who were doing full-time virtual learning reported the highest occurrence of all reported issues. Among them, 54 percent experienced emotional distress, 42.7 percent lost jobs, 26.6 percent feared for their job stability, 21.6 percent had sleeping difficulties, 14.6 percent had a conflict between work and doing childcare, and 13.5 percent had childcare difficulties.
Among parents of children doing hybrid learning, also 54 percent experienced emotional distress, 40.1 percent lost jobs, 19.6 percent had job stability concerns, 16.4 percent had difficulty sleeping, 14.2 percent experienced conflict between work and doing childcare, and 9.5 percent had childcare problems.
In comparison, parents of children who were going to school in person had the least problems. Only 38.4 percent experienced emotional distress, 30.6 percent lost jobs, 15.2 percent had job stability worries, 12.9 percent had sleeping issues, 8.3 percent had conflicts between work and childcare duties, and 6.8 percent had difficulties with childcare.
Addressing the Problems of Parents
Parents who are working from home with children who are either school-age or very young have to face this problem head-on. If only one of the parents has a job, the situation is more manageable in terms of childcare, but it can be tight financially. When both parents are working, it is often not an option financially for one of them to resign.
A possible solution is to find childcare services that offer age-appropriate programs. They can look for a center that provides day care for infants and toddlers, preschool programs for preschoolers, and accommodates school-age children who are learning remotely. This way, the children are properly supervised in a safe environment while also having the needed socialization with their peers.
Parents can work peacefully from home without distractions while the children are also having a fun experience. At the end of the day, when they come together at home, both parties are not stressed and can appreciate each other’s company much better.
Tackling Other Issues
Regarding the other problems related to working remotely, parents will not have difficulty disconnecting from work. They have many reasons to do so and much to do after work.
They will not lose motivation because they need to support the family. The children are their main motivation. They will also not suffer from loneliness. They have enough company at home to not feel isolated.
It can also be easier for parents to communicate and collaborate with colleagues because they have a lot of practice in putting across their messages clearly at home and having to work as a team. After going through raising babies, they will also have enough experience being up all night and can work with teammates in a different time zone.
Making the Most of Remote Work
Like many things, working from home is not a black-and-white situation. Many gray areas can be either positive or negative depending on one’s position and how you handle it.
Many companies are making remote work a permanent arrangement for many of their employees. If this is the case in their company, parents have no choice but to make the most of it.
As the Covid-19 vaccines are being rolled out, though, there may be other work opportunities more conducive to their home situation that will be available. They can then decide if they want to continue working remotely or if they want to go back to office work.