iWorks Employees Provide Advice on Balancing Work & Virtual Learning

Illustration of a student learning virtually via Zoom webinar window.By: Joshua Moore, David Pradko, and Lubna Sheikh*

Many of us are now working from home and experiencing a new wave of working with (and around) virtual technologies. As a company and as individuals we are learning how to best relate to virtual colleagues while experimenting with virtual collaboration. For working parents, virtual work has its own specific challenges. To stay focused and avoid burnout, we recommend the following tips based on our own employees’ experiences.

Prepare Your Workspace

Lubna’s Advice:

  • Set up a dedicated workspace for yourself and your child.
  • Have a dedicated monitor for working efficiently/multitasking and invest in a good pair of headphones so you both don’t disturb each other.

Dave’s Advice:

  • Make sure everyone has headphones!
  • Practical preparation – try to keep a spare power cord and extension cord handy in case something goes wrong, or someone needs to move to a different spot of the house.

Josh’s Advice:

  • Make the kids feel like they are part of the workforce; for example, set their laptop up across from you at the table and let them have little office supplies.
  • Face each other at the table as if you are coworkers, that way you can still monitor your child’s facial reactions if they are having problems.

Keep a Routine

Lubna’s Advice:

  • Try to keep a structured and healthy routine. Wake up early, give yourself and kids some time before the work day starts and never start work in pajamas.
  • Plan some appropriate and safe activities to keep your kids busy and engaged ahead of time. Save the most appealing activities for the times that are likely to be a challenge.

Dave’s Advice:

  • Take your lunch break with your kids. Everyone has to eat, and it gives you a chance to check in with them midday to see if there’s anything they are having trouble with.
  • Focus on what’s important – not what’s urgent. It can be easy to drop what you’re doing for something “quick.” But it’s hard to keeping switching your focus and it’s important for your kids to learn to work through some things on their own.

Josh’s Advice:

  • Add a lunch break where you both can go to a different room. It’s like leaving the office to grab some lunch. Not only does this take stress off the child but it also makes for a more enjoyable day for the parents and children alike.

Communicate

Lubna’s Advice:

  • Communicate with your kids and set expectations for when there will be breaks in your day that you can check in, whether it be a quick snack break, lunch, or even hourly check-ins.

Dave’s Advice:

  • Communicate with your manager and your team – a lot of people are going through this, and people tend to be understanding if they know about your situation.

* The tips presented are the ideas and thoughts of Joshua Moore, David Pradko, and Lubna Sheikh. The format of this listicle was compiled by Sydney MaHan.