With schools closed in 188 countries, there are now more than 1.5 billion students learning from home. The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting many parents as they juggle working, parenting, and homeschooling. It’s clear this is anything but business as usual.
For example, the other day, my colleague and I were half-way through recording a training session when my four-year-old son came waddling in, yelling at the top of his lungs that he needed someone to play with — pronto. While I felt apologetic to my colleague about having to restart the recording from scratch — 32 minutes into it — I also felt overcome with love for my sweet little man. Working from home while parenting is messy, unpredictable, exhilarating, and exhausting.
As part of our Leading through Change series, we are committed to sharing our learnings with our greater Salesforce community. Managing a remote team from afar can be a daunting task in itself. Here are some personal anecdotes from our leaders at Salesforce on how they’re navigating this work-life balance.
7 tips on how to be inclusive of working parents
Tony Prophet, Chief Equality Officer
“Now more than ever, it’s important to practice inclusive leadership and empathy. Start your meetings with a focus on the health and safety of your colleagues and their family. Simply asking, ‘How are you doing today?’ can go a long way. When scheduling calls, be extra mindful about the time windows such as mornings and lunch hours, which can be particularly busy times for working parents.
As a leader, do your best to make those with childcare responsibilities feel heard and validated. If you’re comfortable, talk about your own challenges and even invite your kids to stop by and say hi to underscore the point. For me, it’s been a journey of discovery as we’re now homeschooling my nine-year-old who often is a guest on my calls.
And lastly, don’t make presumptions on childcare workloads based on gender identity. For example, many kids have two dads or two moms, or some may be single parents — this issue transcends gender identity. Seek to understand how each team member may be personally impacted and how you can better support them.”
Jody Kohner, Senior Vice President of Employee Engagement
“I think the most important thing we can do for our kids right now is model a positive attitude. Remind them that we will get through this, together. It won’t last forever. And, we’ll be stronger as a family unit because of it. It’s not easy, and every day is definitely not a good day. But I also find silver linings in being able to step away from my work and hug them through their tears, fears, and frustrations. I am mindful that these are precious moments, and if they were all grown up, I wouldn’t be able to kiss-away their tears so easily.
I am also lucky to have a boss and colleagues who trust me to focus on what is most important in each moment, and understand that I, like every other working parent, am doing the very best I can. I try to bring this same level of grace and understanding to my colleagues, family, and friends.
Bret Taylor, President and Chief Operating Officer
”These difficult times really shine a light on the importance and value in the moments with our family. For example, I’ve been able to share my passion for music with my kids. We’ve pulled out my old college guitars and have been rocking out together every night. I love it.
As leaders, it’s important that we recognize that things aren’t business as usual. Give your employees the space and permission to not only manage having their kids at home, but also really enjoy the moments they have together. Be flexible about working hours, listen and be empathetic to their needs, and support them in finding the right balance between work and home.” – Read more
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