COVID-19 Question of the Day #6 - WFHWK (Working from Home with Kids)

By ILTA Membership posted 04-01-2020 14:51

  

We recently introduced an initiative called the COVID-19 Question of the Day (QoD). These questions were developed based on content covered in our COVID-19 Global Roundtable and harvested from our eGroups. To provide you with quick access to all of the answers received on our QoD postings, we have aggregated the answers to each question into a blog post. We will also post summary documents in the Resource Library for the Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity and Open Public Forum Communities of Interest. Also, please note that there is a second virtual roundtable on Thursday, April 2 from 2:00-3:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) where we explore each of the QoDs in more detail! 



Summary 

  • Respondents are definitely finding that WFHWK (working from home with kids) provides a unique set of challenges.   
  • The kids seem to be more tech-savvy than the spouses with a lot of the respondents. 
  • Respondents are having to be agile and creative solving problems with kids’ schedules and bandwidth issues.  Many schools seem to be stepping up to assist with ideas. 
  • Many respondents were thankful for the tips provided by ILTA and its affiliates. 

How are you and/or your organization handling the reality of WFHWK? 

  • I am not working from home, nor do I belong to an organization. I am however still doing my part to answer as many IT-related questions as I can from friends and family without overstepping my boundaries for their respective companies. Questions have come up applications concerning how to use Teams and Outlook. One issue that people have come across is finding headsets that suit their needs, since working from home is so widespread, those resources have been limited and difficult to find.  Love the new acronyms.  Mine is a little different.  WFHWD (working from home with dogs) that bark so much. Luckily, I already had a webcam and headphones with mic.  And another room to escape to if needed. 
  • Great question!  I have 3 children, grades 1, 4, and 6.  Their school provided some materials so they are not just drifting, but I also need to fill in a lot of gaps.  My husband and I take turns sitting at the "homeschool table" with them to keep them on task and provide guidance, but this is obviously a work distraction.  That being said, we're doing the best we can; I am grateful to be employed and to have so much technology available to us that allows us to stay connected to both work and personal contacts. 
  • Personally, I feel blessed to be able to work from home.  We have a lot of really great people in our firm and we "check up on" each other.  There is a very minimal crew at our office in Chicago and the rest of us (who are able to) work from home.  Have no issues with Citrix.  Additionally we're in the middle of testing on a new environment - and that has been a little challenge, but it certainly makes it interesting.  Outside of my older feline who loves to type (one letter over and over again) and then has found a way to turn off the laptop - things are going well.  I've found that make a small pot of coffee for myself first thing in the morning definitely brightens my day.  Also I take short breaks to get away from the computer screen. 
  • I've been first line support for husband/teacher uploading Vimeo videos for students.  My kids are awesome with Zoom classroom. 

Have your organizations provided any tips or guidelines? 

  • We have been very fortunate to have had access to webinars, HeadSpace and other resources which have given us full access to help and support where needed. 
  • I will be honest here, we've used many of the tips from ILTA members, such as Maritta Terrell, Jeffrey Brandt and his Pinhawk posts and so forth.  We also have an employee here that her main role is attorney well-being that shares some of her ideas. 
  • Our company has been fantastic in understanding how the dynamics are different at this time. We have been offered company-wide, region and team tips on being successful while working from home as well as offering flexibility as needed to cover the needs for childcare, etc. That along with information shared by our customers and other ILTA members has provided great options to try to make my new work environment work for me.   

Has bandwidth been an issue?  If so, how are you addressing? 

  • It isn't an issue at my house. I built a separate vlan for my kids and put a first gen Disney Circle on that vlan. Disney Circle gives me complete control over all their devices. My kids haven't been able to hack it yet and they're 14. Make sure you get the first gen because it doesn't have a monthly fee. 
  • Bandwidth for us at the start of the week was challenging as was for most of the world, but with a circuit bandwidth upgrade and a vendor circuit upgrade and users taking advice about how best to work in these challenging times, things have settled towards the end of the week.   The main point is I feel we have tried to address the issues as they have arisen - I am sure everyone has had the same challenges. 
  • Generally no.  Fortunately.  We are lucky to have Google Fiber in 2 of the biggest counties here and we also have homegrown Utopia which can provide 1GB to about 60% of the homes in Utah.  Secondarily we have Comcast and Centurylink with good technology. 
  • Yes, bandwidth has definitely been an issue especially at key times during the day: mid-morning and early afternoon. Besides moving equipment around to make improvements, I am scheduling meetings when possible around these timeframes. We make similar adjustments for my daughter's online classes so that we can have the best experience. 

Have you and your household developed a special schedule or routine around WFHWK? 

  • Sitting in the basement with noise canceling headphones works great.  WARNING: this will NOT help you win points with your significant other. Try at your own risk. 
  • As the "kids" are adults it's been a case of please only use the internet if it’s necessary during working hours and if you want to download, do it overnight when the workers are resting. 
  • We've adapted to no laundry, vacuuming, and other noisy tasks during work/school hours. Otherwise, someone's work is disrupted. When a door is closed, that means the person is unavailable. We are also communicating better on what our day looks like. Do the kids have tests or major assignments, are there conference calls scheduled, are there pending deadlines? This allows us to understand and respect individual needs throughout the day. 
  • Two weeks ago, the traditional schooling system instantly changed to distance learning, which turns out to take only 25% of the time a normal school day would. The afternoons are now spent teaching our 11-year-old daughter French, because that skill would be useful in the next year and she is bored sitting at home with no friend allowed to play.  In the evening a 'difficult' book is read by me and my son, taking turns per chapter. We're trying to write down the new words, and I did not realize that at 14 years, there are a lot of new words to learn.   It is not the work that has been affected most by the virus, it is the personal life that experiences the biggest change. 
  • Not really.  Most of my family works as Lowes which from my state’s standpoint is considered an essential business.  They do have some rules they have to follow when they get home, like making sure their clothes are washed and they take a shower as soon as they get home. 
  • In order for me to work uninterrupted, my kids need to be busy so besides the small amount of work they are being given by their school, we are assigning flexible learning alternatives to keep them busy and learning new things. Outdoor activities (trampoline, walk around the neighborhood, etc.) are also scheduled to coincide with my important meetings. And as Donna mentioned, loud household cleaning and such, are done outside of the regular workday. 

What are your personal tips for making the most of WFHWK? 

  • We are all in this together, we all have the same challenges, we are all only human and regardless of how big our house is, how powerful the car we drive is and how challenging our roles are, never forget to be kind to those that have a child having a meltdown, a "blip" in their bandwidth, a dog barking, a headset on mute - smile - we will get through this! 
  • I think for many of us and especially kids - the social aspect is the part that is missed the most. I think my best tip is to try and include the social aspect where you can. At BigHand, the majority of our meetings include video which helps me feel connected with co-workers. And while our teenager knows how to do online interaction with her friends, we have set up times from our son to also talk online to his friends and family. This social piece has really helped our household stay positive. 
  • Patience.  There are a ton of kids in our neighborhood and what the school district realized early on is that many families and the technology that was provided were not ready to go to an online school.  So, they've been working on the emotional well-being of families first and schoolwork secondarily.  I swear that there may be compromised kids with the CV19. 
  • On coping strategies, my kids school just shared these great resources: 

Educational: 

Audible.com is currently offering its services for free: https://stories.audible.com/start-listen  

NatGeo - setting a schedule: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/family/in-the-news/coronavirus/setting-a-schedule/  

Virtual Museum tours: https://www.travelandleisure.com/attractions/museums-galleries/museums-with-virtual-tours  

Virtual Concerts: https://www.npr.org/2020/03/17/816504058/a-list-of-live-virtual-concerts-to-watch-during-the-coronavirus-shutdown 

Zoo and Aquarium tours: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/18/us/coronavirus-zoos-webcams.html  

Philadelphia Zoo - educational series on Facebook Live:  https://www.facebook.com/philadelphiazoo/  

Thought-provoking Documentaries on Netflix/Amazon:  https://becomingunbusy.com/documentaries/  

Great Courses - free for a month: HERE 

Bill Gates Ask Me Anything on Reddit:  Blog: https://www.gatesnotes.com/Health/A-coronavirus-AMA 

#COVID-19
#RemoteWorking

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