A personal survival guide for “working from home with the family”.

A couple of months ago, working from home was an option when one of the children was sick at home, a personal appointment split the working day, or even a day requiring either constant concentration with no need for direct collaboration with my team of fellow engineers.

Fortunately, my employer (Atos) has embraced and developed a remote working culture since 2018, allowing flexible working hours when away from the office as well as providing some of the best remote collaboration software tools, quality equipment, and network resources.

So, now we are ready to manage the obligation to work from home on an ongoing basis, at least for now. And, where I live, the schools have shut down and it is highly recommended to leave the house only when absolutely necessary.

As you may have guessed, my experience has changed significantly as I now must work from a home with three young children nearby, a barking dog and lots of potential disturbances. Here is my survival guide, if you are in this same situation.

• Remember, kids do not intend to be noisy. They are supposed to be noisy and childish!

• Calmly remind them, to be quiet, explaining to them that mom or dad is working from home due to the circumstances. Avoid yelling at them or punishing them because they are over-excited.

• Although TV programs and games on mobile devices will do the trick, I suggest establishing a morning routine with a couple of hours of homeworking. Depending on their age, this may vary from drawing to studying school material.

• Now you are all day at home, take advantage of a long break and then dine together. This is something kids love and increases trust and discipline during the rest of the day. Be ready though for arguments beginning with “I will sit next to Daddy!”, “No, I will!!”, etc.

• Even when it all seems under control, kids will continue intruding your “home office”. If you welcome them and remind them you are working, they will quietly leave. Trust me, this works!

• Use headphones for conducting remote meetings and use this as a visual “Do not disturb” sign.

• It is always nice to take a short break and show interest to your little ones’ needs rather than saying “Not now!”, “Later!”, “I am busy”, etc.

• Homeworking is a matter of accomplishing the work to be done, instead of working against the clock. Have an end time to relax and completely return to the family.

• Regarding the barking dog, well, I am afraid we may have chosen the wrong breed!

Your new home office can become a great place to work, but it may take some time to get used to it. Now is the time to leverage all your time management and goal-setting skills. Staying focused, relaxed and being in control of this new situation will keep you productive, effective and healthy overall!

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