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Back-To-School Challenges For Work-From-Home Parents: What The Workforce Can Expect For the 20 – 21 School Year
- Christa Heibel
- 16 September 2020
For every working parent, summer starts off with so much promise; three months of not waking up before the sun rises, a break from scrambling to make lunches and detangling matted heads of hair and a chance to take much-needed family vacations and spend quality time together.
But this year spring and summer are like nothing we’ve ever experienced. Gone are the days of routine and structure and instead we welcomed new parenting roles as teacher, tutor and (occasionally) IT technician. When the Covid-19 outbreak led schools to shut down in the spring, parents had to quickly create a balance between their jobs and providing an education for their children.
Now, as the fall school approaches, there has been a huge discussion about if and how schools should reopen.
Reopening Schools | Remote Learning | In-Person
How Back-To-School Season is Throwing Challenges for Work-From-Home Parents
The current pandemic has already caused wary amongst caregiver and parents, especially when more than 12 states are seeing a surge in the number of new coronavirus cases. This fall, the case for reopening schools and day care centers during the pandemic is strong. Reopening them would provide “much-needed” childcare for work-from-home parents and other caregivers.
However, most of the school districts around the country are planning for hybrid options of partial in-person learning or full-time remote learning. While many parents are onboard with this decision, some parents prefer their children return to school in-person full-time this fall. According to a latest Gallup survey, 36% parents prefer a blend of in-person and remote learning, while 28% want their children to attend the school fully remote.
For working parents, the uncertainty surrounding childcare and in-person instruction for school-aged children is unprecedented. This is sure to have a cascading set of consequences on family life, education, and earnings. Additionally, if the childcare and schools do fully reopen, some parents may not be confident in the safety of those environments and opt to keep their children home to provide distance learning themselves.
Having said that, limited in-classroom schedules and day-care capacity will require parents to be at home with their children for the foreseeable future, which may also have a long-term effect on their career. Nearly 73% of remote working parents have plans to make major changes to their professional lives to deal with back-to-school challenges and about 15% of those are considering leaving the workforce altogether.
Back-To-School Season With Remote Routines Are Here To Stay
Back-to-school season always brings an array of challenges. New caregivers, new schedules and new after-school programs require a period of adjustment that working parents balance with their responsibilities in the office. Currently, while work-from-home parents are scheduled for prolonged hours, when they are being called on for 24/7, and most of them are juggling between their tight work schedules, demanding jobs and daily childcare at home.
With cases of COVID-19 increasing, children in daycares are already testing positive. The numbers are expected to rise as the school-age children will return to class. Children who develop viral symptoms will need to stay home and might need to get tested or see their doctor. Many more children will need to quarantine even though they don’t have symptoms.
As the virus surges throughout the U.S., many school districts are shifting towards learning online and these remote routines are resuming with no clear end in sight.
How Employers Are Throwing Working Parents A Lifeline?
For many working parents, the back-to-school season that brings the anxiety of new teachers, schedules and courses under the best of circumstances, is looming as a major source of stress. And most employers and employees are grappling with how to adapt to a new reality that may require them to extend short-term fixes and create more long-term solutions.
The good news is many employers are throwing working parents a lifeline by pushing office re-openings to 2021. Not only this, with most of the childcare centers closed because of the pandemic, companies are offering everything from nanny stipends to online activity clubs to keep the kids of their employees engaged and parents productive. Flexible work schedules are becoming the new norm, as parents shift between their caregiver, teacher and tutor roles throughout the extended day.
Some companies are also giving corporate employees the option to work from home through June 2021, along with a $500 stipend for home office equipment. While other companies are looking at upping childcare subsidies, creating support groups for parents and facilitating parent pods, where families jointly hire a tutor and kids go from house to house for ad hoc classes.
“We should prepare for these inevitable disruptions now, and employers can take the lead. For instance, employers can develop backup staffing plans and cross-train employees to perform essential functions, like hospitals did when their staff were getting sick or needing to quarantine. Employers could also explore expanded and non-punitive paid family leave, flexible work schedules and locations for parents, and subsidized emergency child care when schools or day cares close unexpectedly. To make these strategies possible for smaller businesses, policymakers will need to consider whether to cover the costs of these programs.” says Dr. Charlene Wong, a pediatrician and health policy researcher at Duke University
With so much uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, especially as the back-to-school season is starting, flexibility is the guiding principle for the workforce.
If you would like to learn more about how you can adapt your workforce to not only support your agent experience but also maintain your customer experience, contact us today for a consultation.
CH Consulting Group provides unparalleled expertise in the Contact Center and Customer Experience (CX) verticals. We have a nationwide team of industry veterans that can assist you to achieve exponential growth, manage change, and generate profit. For a comprehensive CX assessment and strategic plan customized for your unique business needs, connect with us here today.