Coronavirus: Keeping a schedule is important when working from home with kids

Jesse Reed working from his home office on March 30, 2020. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Jesse Reed working from his home office on March 30, 2020. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

As thousands of Dayton-area people have been forced to work from from home, worklife has become a balancing act between family and work as their homes have become their offices.

The Dayton Daily News sought out people in the region through social media who are now working at home.

They told us keeping a structure to their day has helped keep things normal for their families. They also said taking regular breaks, video chatting with fellow employees and keeping a positive attitude help them through the day.

Shannon Jones, Warren County Commissioner and executive director of Groundwork Ohio, said she typically works from home a few days a week. Jones said the challenge now is working from home with everybody else there too.

“A routine has been life-saving,” Jones said.

Having a schedule with her husband and children has helped the family work together at home.

One other challenge of working from home has been keeping structure for her high schooler, who has suddeny been thrown into online coursework that can be done at any time.

“We as parents have to try to figure out and build (online school) into the day-to day-routine,” Jones said.

Jones said deciding what part of the house she and her husband will work from and when they might switch has been a challenge. Another challenge of working from home, Jones said, is making three meals a day for herself, her husband and her two children.

“Now I have office-mates who require three square meals a day,” Jones said. “Even though I had been working from, that wasn’t in my day-to-day routine. My son wasn’t home and my daughter was heavily involved in sports and other activities. Now we’re all here and everybody needs to eat.”

Jones’ son is a sophomore at Wright State and her daughter is a sophomore at Springboro High School. The Jones family has found that having a regular dinner time has been helpful.

“Even though we’re walking all over each other, it’s a good time to connect,” Jones said. “We still have schedules, if you will, they’re just schedules in the house.”

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Jesse Reed, who is director of JobConnect Ohio for CareSource, said he’s enjoyed getting to work from home because he can spend time throughout the day with his family, especially his 19-month-old son.

Reed’s wife is a kindergarten teacher at Valley View and the couple also have a 12-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old son.

“There are challenges that present themselves, but so far we’ve done a pretty good job of keeping the balance,” Reed said. “I’ll be down here in my office for meetings back to back, but then I’ll have a 30 minute break where I can run upstairs and see how the family is doing.”

Reed said that his wife and children were on spring break last week, so this week they have had to readjust.

“It’s been quite the adventure,” Reed said. “But honestly, the difficulty has been following what’s going on in the outside world and keeping my team informed of everything.”

Reed said he has been holding daily touch-points with his team through videoconferencing app Webex. He challenges his team to turn on their cameras to make meetings more like they would be in person.

Heidi Rhodes, senior manager of global collaboration for Webex, recommends setting a schedule while working from home with children.

Doing planned activities or waking up at the same time can help keep things as normal as possible in these unprecedented times. Keeping kids busy while working from home can also make things easier on parents, according to Rhodes.

Rhodes also recommends that someone who is working from home should talk with their manager about flexibility, like scheduling calls or meetings around nap time.

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Before Gov. Mike DeWine’s stay at home order, Jones said the family rarely got the chance to sit down to dinner together.

“I think about how lucky and blessed we are to even been able to say there are challenges because there are so many families who don’t have food and are trying to figure out how to feed their family right now and there are people who have to stay at home in families where there is abuse,” Jones said.

Corporations are also having to quickly readjust to employees and potential employees working from home.

LexisNexis in Miami Twp. has asked many of its employees to work from home and practice social distancing. The company’s recruiters and interviewers are actively working with candidates to reschedule interviews virtually.

For virtual interviews, LexisNexis recommends findings a private spot and confirming internet connectivity before the interview starts.

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Looking at the “new norm” of working from home in a positive way is something that Reed said has helped him balance working from home.

“I love what I do. It’s never been just a 9 to 5 job for me,” Reed said. “I’ve been trying to keep a positive perspective, thinking that I get to work from home not that I have to work from home. I can go, run upstairs and hug my kids in between meetings.”