Working Virtually Amidst Covid-19

Work/Family Balance






Many of us have been working from home for years.  Now called a “Virtual” or “Remote” environment, with the global healthcare crisis consuming daily activities, many more of you are getting the opportunity to see that “working from home” isn’t always as glamorous as it seemed when you were working outside of the home.  However, there are things you can do to make the experience a positive and productive one for you and your family.

Logistics & Structure: Your first priority is to establish a space for each person to work in, and if you have kids home from school or college, they are going to need a place to study and do homework as well.

  • If you have the room in your home, try to give each individual their own space to work in. Whether it be an established home office or setting a card table up in a basement or spare room, make your workplace as close to your office/dorm/classroom setting as possible.
  • Establish work/quiet hours as much as you can and save your evenings for downtime.
  • Make spaces like the kitchen and family room “No Work” zones, so you still have a place to gather without interrupting someone who is trying to work.
  • If you are tight on space, work with each other to prioritize who gets the “quiet space” at certain times.
  • If your internet service is not optimal, look into other options. Many internet providers are offering WiFi packages for homes that may not have it, or may need to upgrade their speed, with minimal, or in some cases no extra fees.

Communication is Key: While the original “work from home” environment is usually one person, by themselves most of the day, that scenario has changed for many of us.  Now we have a spouse, college or school-aged kids, and even toddlers who can no longer go to daycare/school/college surrounding us all day while we are still trying to work…oh my!

  • Consider your family your new team of colleagues. You still have a job to do, and they probably do as well, so have a team meeting upfront and establish some guidelines for your new corporate office setting.
  • Communicate with your family the times you can and cannot be interrupted. A lot of professionals are still dealing with conference calls and virtual meetings, while students are having to sign into remote learning sites at specific times. Everyone needs to be on the same page. If you have a door for your space, keep it shut so they know not to bother when it is shut (as my teen just barreled through my door with a non-essential life question, clearly I failed to communicate what “when the door is shut” means).
  • If priorities or deadlines change (and believe me, they will), make sure your team is aware of these changes and lets you proceed accordingly.
  • Don’t overcommit to clients or colleagues regarding when you can complete a project or get online for a meeting. Depending on the ages in your home, you may find that your corporate colleagues and clients would rather “meet” after hours when kids are in bed, or early in the morning before the kids are jumping off of the walls and needing your attention.

Keep Work and Family Separate: We all have work and school commitments, but we all also need to remember that we need our normal family time as well (remind me of this again after our three weeks of in-house isolation is up-lol). This situation is new to all of us and navigating through it on top of each other in one space is going to take an emotional toll on everyone involved.  Stay strong and set the tone for your work and family environments.

  • Bring back the family dinner – at the table or in front of the television – at least you are having a meal together!
  • Still talk about your workday/school day so everyone has an opportunity to talk about what is actually going on in their own virtual worlds.
  • If your kids are willing (raise your hand if you have a teenager), try to do a movie or game night and leave the “screens” on their chargers for an hour or two. It may just lead to laughter and fun…you never know.
  • Have a “Project List” of things that need to be done around the house. If one of your team members has a really frustrating day, ripping out that nasty half-bath wallpaper from 2002 may be the key to feeling better.
  • When the weather allows…get OUT of the house. Take a walk by yourself or with the family, play a yard game, etc. Do something that gets you outside of the work/school environment, even if it is only for a short time period. Fresh air is great!

These are unprecedented times for ourselves, our families, our places of work, our nation, and our world.  Change is hard on many of us-and “social distancing” and “shelter in place” are not only new terms but also a new way of life for all of us.  Perseverance and tolerance will be key in guiding your family through this pandemic and time of isolation and fear in our world. Emotions will run high, but if you communicate, try to focus on your work and family needs, and keep a positive attitude, your “team” will be more productive and stronger in the long run.  This too shall pass and your working from home environment will eventually be yours again!






Is Networking Working For You?


is networking working for you?
If “networking” isn’t working for you, maybe you need to change your ideas about what networking actually is.
Networking means different things to different people. For some, networking is that mysterious executive function only done by the upper tiers of a corporation. For others, networking is connecting regularly with friends for lunch. Networking to the tech team involves software and hardware and creative solutions to computer glitches.
All the definitions of networking include the basic concept of interconnecting individual parts. That interconnection creates the larger unit we call a network…and your own definition of networking is influenced by what you see “the network” is in relation to you. Do you think that you have no place in a network? Think again:

  • are you part of a family?
  • do you see people during the week?
  • do you communicate with anyone using some sort of technology?

Each one of those points is a networking opportunity. You are already part of some type of network, and you probably are part of several different networks. The workplace, job searches, religious affiliations, family, even regularly attended locations like a coffeeshop or online social media are networks. If you don’t recognize them as such, then the challenge is to change the way you interact with your networks so that you improve your part of the process.
Learn more about what you can do to improve your networking. This can mean everything from deliberately listening when folks talk to you to investing in professional coaching like The Job Search Success System. Subscribe to blogs like this one, as well as to those relating to your interests. Comment on those blogs; that back-and-forth interaction is the foundation of networking.
At its most basic level, networking is the acknowledgement that we do not function in isolation. We are part of networks in every area of our lives: from transportation and supply systems…to the way you are reading this post…with all the people your life touches in between. What you do within your networks makes a difference in your future and the future of those around you.

Choosing A Career With Family In Mind

Resume WritingResumesWork/Family Balance

career for a family
There are many things to consider when deciding what career path to take and one of the most important is your family. Whether you have a family or are planning to start one in the future, it is important to consider when choosing a career. Here are some questions that you should ask  yourself to help you decide what path to take.

  • How big do I want my family to be? Depending on how big you want your family to be will help decide where you want to work. You will need a salary that will be able to support your family.
  • What kind of lifestyle do you and your family want to live? Whether you want to live simply or decadently is another factor to consider. If you want to live in luxury, then you need to find a career that has an appropriate salary and even the option for career and salary advancement.
  • How much time do you want to spend with your family? Your work will take some time away from your family. You need to decide how much time away you want. If you want to spend a lot of time with your family, then you need to choose a career and a company that will allow you to spend as much time with your family as possible. Full time, part time?
  • Perks?  You may be able to negotiate your benefits or perks, i.e. having a bigger vacation package and little to no health insurance. If you don’t need to carry insurance, you may be able to negotiate more vacation days or even flex time with the amount of money you will be saving the company on health insurance.

Considering all these questions will help you make the best decision on what career path to take. While these questions can help you, you should not make this decision on your own. Talk to your family and get their input. They can be your most valuable resource in making this decision.

Men on Paternity Leave?

BlogCareer & WorkplaceFamily

When the U.S, government passed laws in 2006 enacting the new parent-rights portions of the Work and Families Act, they extended pay and leave for new parents, including men on paternity leave. Working dads have been eligible for up to two weeks of paid leave since 2003, but the new measures extend these benefits. Statutory Maternity Pay, Maternity Allowance and Statutory Adoption Pay have been extended from 39 weeks to 52, with working fathers entitled to take an extra 26 weeks off of work to care for their child, if the mom has returned to work and has not used all of her eligible maternity leave.
These employer-supplied benefits are of course only available if your employer is a regular tax and benefits-paying entity. Those who are independent contractors or employed on a part-time basis may not be eligible for these benefits. Eligibility is also determined by requirements such as the father must be the biological father of the baby or married to the mother, and expected to share in responsibilities related to rearing the child.
Timing is also important for eligibility and the father is expected to work for the same employer from the time of conception until the time of birth, with leave scheduled starting only when the baby is due, and arrives. Taking time off early might negate your eligibility, so be sure to carefully look over the rules and guidelines. You need to notify your employer of your intentions to take leave by the 15th week before the estimated due date. You can take the leave any time after the birth; it does not have to immediately follow the day the baby is born.
Men on paternity leave is becoming a more common phenomenon than ever before, with the paternity leave being extended to include unpaid time off, after the eligible time period for benefits expires. With the previous disparity in wages that was so clearly sex-defined being narrowed, more women than ever are bringing home as much or more money than their partners. This can potentially free up the formerly “conventional” situation where the mom stays home and raises the kids while dad works outside the home, to a more non-traditional family set-up, where dad stays home and mom goes to work.
It has raised a whole new crop of social issues as well, related to conventional gender roles in our society, and how best to raise a child with the new option of dad staying home. Since more and more people are finding it financially and socially viable to have the father be the primary care-giver and mom be the bread winner, whole social networks are now available to dads who need peers with similar experiences, and moms who have to deal with the stress of being away from their children. Conventional family settings have of course always been that mom stays and dad works, and the new dynamic inherent with choosing a different path brings a new set of challenges to both parents and children.

Erin Go Bragh! and why family is so important even when they annoy us

Erin's MusingsFamily

Many years ago, this day–St. Patrick’s Day–was a day I looked forward to all year. Of course, that was when I was in my early 20’s… when my friends and I would start our day out at some Irish pub and then continue with the ‘pub crawl’ throughout the day. When I look back, I have no idea how I did that (I am sounding old). Fast forward 15+ years…
The significance of the day always stayed with me, even intensified since having my own children. I was explaining to my kids this morning why they are wearing green and why it is especially important for us to wear green because we are Irish. I could see their eyes sort of zone out when I went into our ancestry, but I figure one day they would feel proud, like I do.
My great, great grandfather, Michael Hankerd and his brother, Dennis, came here from Ireland in the 1830’s. They eventually settled in Jackson, Michigan, on an unoccupied lake. Michael married Margaret who came here as a nanny with another family from Ireland. Michael and Margaret began their family who would eventually make their way down to my grandparents, my mother, and then me.
My favorite part of the story is that even though through the years, bits and pieces of that land were sold off, we are still on that very same lake, though, now it’s completely occupied with year-round families. My grandparents bought a summer place on the lake 60+ years ago that is still in my family to this day. I look forward to going there every summer. That is where my roots are, where my history is, where it began… as my mom tells my children, “Your great, great grandparents swam in this water, in this very spot, too!” When I think of how my children’s children will be swimming there, I am just blown away by the connection of it all.
Everyone has a family history like mine. We all have ancestors who were settlers from another country– who came here with very little, and made a home and a family. We all have roots and we are all bonded together. Even though sometimes family drives us nuts, they are who we are, and where we come from.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!