Three Key Pandemic Effects and How to Manage Them

We Share Three Key Lockdown Impacts and Tips on How to Manage Them

In the new game of “Zoom Bingo” the sudden onscreen appearance of a child or teen (or dog) is second in predictability only to the inevitable cry of, “You’re on mute!”

Amidst all the other impacts, the situation created an instant visibility into the challenges of working parenthood and a “testing ground” for flexible and remote working practices which became “the new normal” almost overnight. Questions and doubts about whether workloads could be managed remotely, whether technology would be able to connect us all reliably from a distance, and individuals and businesses would cope – were given a unique opportunity to be explored nationwide in real time.

Survey Findings

Surveys conducted during the summer months of 2020 showed that agile and remote working had been welcomed as “the new normal” with employer respondents expressing some surprise but also relief at how well it was working. The majority of working parents surveyed stated that they would favour continuing to work more flexibly in the future, believing this would positively impact their wellbeing, productivity and loyalty.

However, parents also clearly raised some key factors that had the potential to make or break the success of flexible working. One of these was boundaries - the balance between flexibility and the feeling of “always on.” The lack of daily commute, although usually welcomed, also meant a loss of a marker between work and home contributed to the blurred boundaries. Coupled with this was the importance of a supportive line manager: those who had been fortunate in that respect reported that this made a substantial difference, both practically as mutually beneficial arrangements could be agreed, and also psychologically in terms of feeling trusted and valued.

If these are also key factors for you – you are not alone! Here are some ideas and tips which have helped others and which may be worth a try for you:

  • Boundaries! Bring back your commute, ‘lockdown style’.

    Before and after your working day, replicate that “switch-on/switch-off” feeling by walking round your block, round your garden, a round of star-jumps or running on the spot to mark the end of the day will give you the benefit of some exercise and also reinforce in your mind the beginning and end of work-time.

  • Stay Active
    We’ve all been told repeatedly about the benefits of exercise here and there are endless Youtube videos to help with any type of yoga or activity you choose to indulge in. But if you’re bored of those, it sounds simple, but try dancing around your living room to your favourite. It’s a great mood-lifter and can be used at the start middle and end of your work day to keep your energy levels up. Reflect on how you feel you can manage your work and family responsibilities best – and communicate these.
    • Maybe take a 10 minute break every hour to check in with home-studying teens;
    • Try to block out time to take more of a substantial break for family tea and catch up with work later in the evening.
    • Once you are clear in your mind of the benefits both for you and your employer, you will be better able to talk it through with your line manager and ask for their co-operation and understanding.
  • If you are feeling swamped and overwhelmed, remember that breathing really does help.
    • Take a moment to listen in to your body, observe your breathing and try to slow it down: concentrate on the “out” breath and imagine you are carefully blowing on a hot, full cup of tea.
    • Or if you prefer, close your eyes, feel your pulse and focus on it slowing and becoming more regular.

Remember that, unique though everyone’s experiences are – there are many thousands of others out there who are going through very similar challenges to you. The little faces popping up on the Zoom screens are visible proof of that!

Coming soon: To ensure that the voices of working parents and carers continue to be heard, Bright Horizons has conducted a survey of parents and carers working in a wide range of sectors across the country. The study will explore how the pandemic has changed the way we combine family life and work. Topics include: how men and women divide and share childcare responsibilities; attitudes to different kinds of flexible working; the impact of a supportive employer. Look out for results of the study which will feature in a forthcoming feature in this newsletter.