5 MINUTE READ | August 17, 2020
WFH Meets Virtual Academies
With PMG since 2012, David Gong has led marketing initiatives at PMG, drawing on his past experience at agencies, publishers, and industry partners.
Parts of Southern California are experiencing record high temps this week thanks to a historic change in our environment. I mean, yes, it’s going to be as hot as 107 degrees this week in my home city because of a massive heatwave, but I’m talking about folks who have been working from home all summer, and now have their kids going “back” to school which, during the time of the pandemic, means Zoom meetings, Seesaw activities, Google Classroom slides, and more.
Today was the first day of school for two of my kids, one in kindergarten and the other in third grade. They just ate lunch (at 11 a.m., mind you), and during the morning session, my wife (who also works) and I had to troubleshoot one of my kids getting kick off Zoom seven times, and doing an emergency laptop swap for the other, thanks to the district-provided Chromebook giving us a “high CPU usage” alert 15 minutes into the day. We knew going into today that there would be technical issues, and to be honest with you, it probably could be a lot worse. And we certainly appreciate that the teachers and classroom aides are trying their very best. So, we tell ourselves it’ll get better because if we don’t lie to ourselves, the despair will only eat us alive.
Anyway, kidding aside, I know I’m not unique. Not just because of the texts we’ve gotten from fellow parents this morning, but because across the country, millions of other working parents are or will soon be in the same situation. As someone who worked remotely for five years before the pandemic hit, I know that the typical advice on how to stay productive goes out the window since those tips assume you’d be home alone, and your biggest distraction is the siren call of Netflix’s incredible slate of Korean dramas.
Here’s my attempt at advice for other work-from-home parents who also have to deal with learn-from-home children. Like your kids’ teachers have repeatedly done, I’ll ask that you be patient and don’t pre-judge.
Get wireless headphones. As tempting as it will be for you to put these on your own self, these are actually for the little ones. There will be plenty of problems that require you to hover over your child’s laptop. Save yourself the anguish of hearing said laptop go crashing to the ground because your child forgot that their headphones were plugged in when they suddenly needed a bathroom break.
Other parents will tell you to have your alcohol ready. I personally don’t advocate using tequila for the purposes of anesthetizing your rowdy children (I kid!). Instead, I recommend having a cheat sheet printed and available for your kids, so they have all the usernames and passwords they need to log back in when they inevitably get booted from whatever app they’re using. Also, save their common websites as bookmarks, so everything is just a click away.
Let your boss and your coworkers know in advance as much as possible what your schedule and availability are like, and be sure to block off key times during the day when it’ll be unrealistic for you to be available for a critical call or task. This does require disciplined planning ahead and looking at the coming day/week every evening, so you are prepared. Hopefully, your team will have empathy and be accommodating (if not, consider some of the job openings we have at PMG because, frankly, you deserve better).
Don’t feel bad about not being a star at work. If you’re a parent, you might feel envy that your single and/or childless coworkers are getting praised for stepping up massively during this period of time. Resist that very human urge to do so. Instead, have a positive mindset and be thankful that you’re part of a team with people who can help others by taking on more when others are unable to, and keeping overall productivity high.
Wear a mask, practice social distancing, and maintain safe hygiene across your family. This tip doesn’t have to get political, because whatever persuasion you have, the likely reality is that our society isn’t returning to normal until the numbers go way, way down. So, just from a practical perspective, this is perhaps the most critical tip.
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Whatever you can do to contribute to the numbers improving, the better because that’ll mean your kids can return to school, cut back on their bad attitudes and backtalk (since they turn into angels in the presence of any adult other than you their other parent), do some actual learning, and be out of the house for a chunk of time long enough that you can actually get some work done. (And fit in an episode of Itaewon Class, of course.)
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