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  • Writer's pictureRaffaella Graff


Tips for working from home with children: structure, communication and flexibility
Homeoffice Herausforderungen
Homeoffice Herausforderungen

What has been my everyday working life for several years is now suddenly part of daily business for many. Home office challenges are the new work situation for some due to the Covid-19 situation.

Opinions differ. I know this from my own experience. There are those who envy my flexibility, others who assume that I take it easy at home and others who believe that working from home maximises productivity without distractions. Ultimately, working from home is probably like working anywhere else. Efficiency has to do with personal responsibility and motivation and doesn't work the same way every day.

But one thing is clear. Home office challenges can become the ultimate test of endurance when the children are at home. It requires a lot of planning, creativity and a good dose of composure. I always made sure to start work when the children were asleep (cheers to naps), at school or engrossed in their play.

Despite all the planning, however, there was often only one law, namely Murphy's. An important video conference is coming up, an urgent phone call - just a quick one! Everything was planned and organised perfectly. But the baby, who is always asleep at this time of night, is not falling asleep right now. The child, who was just engrossed in his game, no longer finds it exciting at this very moment!


Homeoffice ft. Homeschooling

Many are now facing precisely this challenge. Notebooks occupy work surfaces, books and papers need space and the WLAN is being utilised like never before. Video conferencing is on the agenda, while the children have to complete their e-learning at the same time. Many stakeholders under one roof. How can you do them justice?

Homeoffice Herausforderungen

It may help to realise that this will not always succeed and certainly not without friction. Perhaps it is comforting to think that others feel the same way. Nevertheless, there are a few things that can help.

Good planning is the be-all and end-all.

Create structures or, if possible, retain structures from school. Plan both your work and that of the children carefully and allow for reserves. Also take into account the use of notebooks and PCs, especially if your child has to complete e-learning.

Stay realistic when planning. Anything else will lead to frustration. You will not be able to count on 110% productivity today.

Plan meetings even more carefully and stick to the schedule. If possible, organise your meetings and discussions so that your partner can look after the children during this time. If this is not possible, choose the quietest possible time slots. Do your children have screen time for multimedia? Why not use this as a wild card for spontaneous meetings?

Inform the person you are speaking to right at the beginning that the conversation may be interrupted because the children are at home. You will meet with understanding.

Take meticulous notes of what you have discussed. If you are suddenly distracted by your children, there is a great risk that you will lose the thread or no longer know what was agreed once the conversation is over.

Make clear agreements with your children, especially if they are a little older. "I will be in a meeting for the next 30 minutes. In the meantime, you will do task A) and B). When you're done, here's what you do... If you need me for something urgent, you can come to the office. But you'll have to wait until I can interrupt the call."

Clarify the availability for daily business with your team. When is the best time to discuss something and what is the situation with my colleagues?

Separate your workplace from that of the children so that you can leave documents lying around. This allows you to interrupt your work quickly, pick it up again just as quickly and make efficient use of every time slot that presents itself.

Free yourself from the idea that you have to do all your work at your desk. There are jobs that can easily be done at the garden table while the children are jumping on the trampoline. Why not answer emails or finalise your presentation now?

Digitise your meetings and tasks so that others can access them. Create transparency within the team. This becomes all the more important the more often you work in different locations and at different times within the team. Use a collaboration tool (e.g. to create proximity.

Tip at the end

Stay relaxed! Be happy when things go like clockwork and don't get annoyed if the string gets knotted. At the end of the day, this is still better than having your patience snapped.

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