what’s your company doing to support parents right now … or what do you wish they were doing?

It’s the Thursday “ask the readers” question. A reader writes:

I’m really curious to learn what other companies and organizations are doing to support parents right now. It seems so difficult (as someone who does not have kids, especially young kids) and challenging, and my organization would like to do more. If readers could share what their company is doing to support parents or if they are parents, what they wish their company was doing, it would be so helpful.

Let’s do it. Readers?

{ 302 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    A note: We’re focusing on parents here because that’s the specific topic for this post. We’ve had many others that are broader or focused on other situations where people need extra support. Please no comments complaining that parents are getting special attention on this one particular post (I’ve already removed one doing that).

  2. Healthcare Worker*

    The best my hospital can do is offer a voluntary furlough until we are able to get childcare again. However, that is unpaid (but benefits are still paid) so unemployment that they would file for us. One local well known research hospital is letting their people take any time they need for child care completely paid with benefits. It’s why we were not struggling during the daycare being closed. (Also work from home with expected childcare is a thing at a local medical university.)

  3. Monty & Millie's Mom*

    I don’t know all the particulars b/c I’m not a parent, but our organization has extended their leave policies to include some paid time for caring for kids who are not in school during this time. Wish I could give you more details, but I’m sure that would look different for different organizations anyway! Good luck – thanks for being a good employer during these trying times!

    1. EggEgg*

      This might be possible under the FFCRA. From what I understand based on the DOL’s FAQ, companies are able to allow their employees to intermittently access additional paid leave at 2/3 of their regular pay to care for children who are out of school due to COVID.

      My five-year-old’s school is closed, so they are at home with us. They are reasonably independent for their age and my husband and I are both able to work remotely so we’re mostly doing okay, but the reality is that I need to spend about an hour away from my desk with them every day during normal work hours. I’m covering this hour with a combination of flexing (I start work earlier in the morning now) and PTO, but it would absolutely mean the world to me to be able to access the FFCRA leave instead of burning through my limited PTO.

      1. Hoosonfirst*

        Correction, 2/3 normal rate but capped at $200 per day. So if you make more than $60k a year, this isn’t an option that might be affordable (even though it’s great to have!)

  4. Anon Anon*

    My organization has been good with parents working from home with school aged children. They have made an exception in their policy about having childcare for school aged kids, and they’ve been pretty understanding when someone has needed to flex their hours a bit more than usual to deal with zoom calls, etc.

    They have been less supportive of those of us with younger kids. We are all still required to have childcare in order to continue working from home.

      1. Anon Anon*

        Their argument is that a school aged child doesn’t need constant supervision the way that kids younger than that do (and they are correct). For those of us who have younger children without access to childcare, we have been offered a furlough. It only impacts a few of us, and childcare didn’t close in our area, so it hasn’t been too horrible. I just hate the double standard.

        But, we are a smaller organization that revels in having double standards. So it doesn’t surprise me.

        1. Patricia*

          Everything is shut down in my area (except essential services) and daycares/schools were the very first to close.

      2. Mama Bear*

        I was thinking the same. I know younger kids need more hands on care, but to give parents of older kids a waiver but not for younger ones…these are not normal times. Are appropriate childcare options even available? Here they are very limited and for essential workers (like healthcare employees) only.

        1. Anon Anon*

          We do have childcare options available. I suspect they would be more flexible if those options weren’t available. But, they are, so they are still requiring childcare. It’s frustrating though because those of us who have younger children feel like we are putting them and ourselves more at risk because we have to use outside childcare. But, to be honest, I’m a single parent and I wouldn’t be able to work in any meaningful way without childcare.

      3. Lynca*

        Officially my workplace has a similar policy. They are letting us flex our hours a bit to accommodate issues. You’re still not supposed to be doing it while caring for a child but I get the feeling that’s being overlooked for now as long as you are productive. Can’t say for sure where I work because I have a more straightforward childcare arrangement. They have not said anything about how you can sometimes hear my child during meetings. And I am preemptive about mentioning it. I live in a small old house. You’re gonna hear a toddler.

        I know other couples who are taking shifts with childcare but not all jobs are being that flexible. My husband was already a SAHD so it allows me to keep semi-normal hours.

    1. LQ*

      Ours is sort of doing the opposite. You can get fully covered paid leave if you have any children up to 18 in your home who you don’t have daycare for.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        I’m fascinated by the idea of day-care for a 17yo :-D but I assume the age limit is so they don’t have to get into “is a 12yo old enough to be left alone? how about 13yo? my 13yo could cut himself on a butter knife but my 10yo runs her own fire breathing club”.

        1. LQ*

          We don’t have anyone in my unit but I imagine somewhere there are 18 year olds working so the real question should be, can they be on leave to take care of themselves? Because it covers “household” so they don’t have to be your kids, just in your household.

          1. LQ*

            Yeah, but it doesn’t just include special needs kids, nor does it include special needs kids who are 21 or 35. It would make sense if it covered special needs more broadly, but it doesn’t. Just age.

          2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            I should have clarified 17yo without additional needs but it’s clear it’s not about actual needs but a quantifiable variable with a clear cutoff. Which is fair, for one definition of fair.

        2. sb51*

          I’m assuming some of that may be to be “distance learning support crew” — if your 17-year-old is having to take classes by Zoom and is confused by their calculus homework, that might be a significant distraction. Etc.

        3. HugsAreNotTolerated*

          I need more information on your 10 year old’s fire breathing club. She sounds like a spitfire!
          *ba dum tish* Sorry, the pun was there, I had to do it.

  5. Ms Fieryworth*

    We’ve added more paid family leave for all staff to use, plus unlimited paid sick time, and schedule flexibility. We don’t have a lot of parents at our company, but we did also reach out to all of them and ask what would be good for them before we added paid time. There’s also a lot of messages coming out from HR about not expecting full productivity and begin flexible to meet home needs.

    1. Insert Clever Name Here*

      This is similar to what my company (a large utility) is doing. We are given 40 hours of “dependent” care each year — it’s separate from both sick and vacation allotments and doesn’t use the IRS definition of dependent, so can be used not only for child-related issues, but also if you need to provide care for a spouse or other immediate family member (parent/grandparent/in-laws). They’ve given us an additional 80 hours of dependent care time specifically for issues caused by COVID, like daycare and schools being closed. My direct management is *i n c r e d i b l y* flexible and understanding when parents (or others using dependent care) need to step away for a few hours. They actually mean it, too.

      What I wish the company would do better is prioritize work, as others have said. Our department has our regular responsibilities, but also random COVID related responsibilities, and we’re entering storm season which brings with it a whole new set of responsibilities. Again, our direct management is great about trying to help us prioritize, but Operations is ultimately in charge and they aren’t backing away from any planned projects.

    2. beanie gee*

      Our small company has been doing the same. They set up a “coronavirus” billing code for any of us to use, including parents, when we just can’t fit in 40 hours due to the demands of this new world. We’re all working from home, but they’ve emphasized total flexibility in schedules. It’s been really nice working for a company that has compassion for its employees.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        That’s a great way of setting it up. I’m on furlough because the job I do just can’t be done from six feet away from anybody (I’m a licensed massage therapist), but my husband’s job is doing a kind of informal but very real flexible schedule — with the exception of the very few time-sensitive requests, which get checked to be sure the team member being asked to do them can handle that before they’re firmly assigned, everything else is being done on a “get as much done as you reasonably can and be smart about prioritizing the most necessary stuff, and nobody’s going to argue about how much ‘what you reasonably can’ looks like” basis. Our own kids are teenagers, but I know there are other team members with younger ones who have been getting by this way more or less all right.

        One thing that helped enormously, though, isn’t something you can do now, but managers might want to think about when people come back to work: a big reason why this system is working so well for their team is that it’s not very different from the way things were BEFORE Covid 19 became a thing. When he worked at the office, he routinely took off at 3 to pick up our kid from their appointment nearby his office, and then finished up the work from home after dinner; or else simply took work from home days whenever it made sense for us. They were fine with it, and his boss intercepted an apology once for leaving early with, “hey, family first,” and meant it. The boss also modeled putting his own family first in the same ways he wanted to see his team doing it, taking the day off to look after a sick kid and telling his staff the reason matter of factly, or leaving early to attend a child’s sports event.

        The way they had handled family-related responsibilities when there wasn’t a crisis made it enormously more believable to everyone that they’d handle it equally well when there was one, which took an enormous load of stress off their employees from the very beginning of this. That’s not something that can be done starting now by a company that didn’t do it then, of course, but if you *keep* being good about employee family obligations (whatever the family member; not just children) after things start to return to public functioning again, it’ll probably reap dividends in the next crisis of whatever sort.

        1. Sparrow*

          This is a great point. And even without another large scale crisis, I imagine adopting this kind of approach has a significant impact on employee satisfaction and morale even in “normal” circumstances.

          1. Working Hypothesis*

            Absolutely. It made our lives enormously easier when we were trying to deal with multiple family members who had to be in multiple different locations and only one car, and it had already made both of us very happy with his company long before the Covid crisis hit. Most people have families, whether those families consist of a partner and children or parents and siblings or a circle of close friends; and being genuinely shown that it’s okay to prioritize them and that your boss trusts you to get the work done to a reasonable extent (and has a definition of reasonable that you agree with!) however that has to be handled around family needs is a huge weight off, even in much more normal times.

      2. Maxie*

        My nonprofit also has a COVID code for timesheets. Everyone gets full pay regardless of hours worked. It is a direct service agency that has gone heavily remote. Staff members who are onsite at all get a weekly bonus.

    3. Amber T*

      I don’t think there’s been anything specific offered to parents (or anyone) – just an increase in flexibility, understanding people aren’t going to be at their desks from 9-5 every day, sometimes you’re going to hear a child screaming in the background of calls, and sometimes emails will get responses at 6am or 10pm. On the one hand, it doesn’t feel like there’s a specific start time or end time for anyone, so work-life balance is blurring a lot of lines. On the other hand… one coworker is thrilled that both she and her husband can take their toddler son to see the 5pm “choo choo” every day.

      1. Goose on the loose*

        This is what it’s been like for me. At the beginning of working from home, my manager had everyone check in with their proposed availability during the day. I work from 7:30-10, then noon-four (with some interruptions of course, because we have a toddler). I block out 10-noon on my calendar every day and I’ve almost never had to do work during that time. My husband picks up the other slack and works after our son goes to bed.

        We’re not getting any additional benefits but my work has been very understanding of my schedule, and I’ve found that when I’m super focused at home I can be even more efficient than when I was at work in our chatty open floor plan. Also, I’m really enjoying taking my son for runs around 10:30 every day. I’ll certainly miss parts of this when (if) we ever go back to work.

    4. Ms. Pessimistic*

      Yes! I wish my organization would just focus on trying to main the status quo and not adding programs or initiatives right now. Funny, the person doing most of this has young kids but also has live in help.

  6. Ben*

    My employer is:

    * Taking advantage of (and encouraging parents to take advantage of) FFCRA to drop down to 3 or 4 days a week
    * Throwing ‘core hours’ out the window and encouraging everyone to be very flexible with expectations for when work is done, ie, one of my team is only available for meetings between 10 and 2 and often works odd hours because he and his partner are passing childcare back and forth
    * Moving a lot of meetings to asynchronous slack or email discussion

    I wish my employer would:

    Make more hard decisions about priorities due to reduced capacity with people shifting to a lighter workweek. Saying “it’s ok to be off every Monday” is one thing, actually reducing expectations by 20% would make that a lot more useful.

    1. Anon Anon*

      “Make more hard decisions about priorities due to reduced capacity with people shifting to a lighter workweek. Saying “it’s ok to be off every Monday” is one thing, actually reducing expectations by 20% would make that a lot more useful.”


      My organization talks a lot about being flexible and understanding (although the childcare requirement for some of us isn’t either of those things), but the expectations of the level of productivity hasn’t changed. In my department, we are having to do more and work longer hours, because we have one person on leave and we have to get their work covered as well.

      However, I see this a lot on AAM and elsewhere. The company says the right things, and they offer flexibility, but they still expect the same level of productivity if not more. I get told everything is important.

    2. OakElmAsh*

      This is us too – very committed to flexibility, take whatever time you need, PTO pretty much unlimited… but delivery expectations to customers are similar or even increased

      In reality what is happening is that team members without kids are picking up some of the slack… and I’m conflicted in what I think about that from a fairness perspective

    3. Nonsense alert*

      Exactly this. The end to my maternity leave coincided with COVID-19 expanding across the US. Everyone has been very nice, saying they understand and I just need to tell them what I need. But deadlines and timelines have not changed. So I end up working every night for hours after my baby goes to sleep. I think they need to accept that capacity is not the same right now. Otherwise their understanding is fairly meaningless.

      To be frank, I’m losing it right now. I don’t know how to keep going like this. But I need a job.

      1. S*

        Solidarity. My third child was born in January, and my transition back to work has been so rough. My oldest is doing distance learning and needs a lot of support, my middle is a Velcro child who wants to be with us constantly, and my youngest is, well, a baby. My husband is on leave, which is the only thing partially saving our sanity, but even that’s not enough to manage all three kids and their very different needs. Between covid anxiety and managing kids, I’m so distracted at work and am constantly being interrupted by everyone. (I’m exclusively breastfeeding.) My employer has been supportive in theory, but asking me upon my return to work “How will you work?” rather than starting with, “This must be a really difficult transition for you. How can we help?” does not make me feel supported. This is so damn hard.

    4. Nita*

      Yes! My company cut everyone’s hours from 40 to 32. Which obviously isn’t great for anyone financially, but for those of us who have kids, or other family obligations, it’s a sanity saver. I can step away to help my husband with the kids, and know I won’t pay for it with hours of lost sleep. It’s much easier to put in 6-7 hours a day than 8. It’s also great because there’s an expectation that those of us who have too much work will share it with those who don’t have enough, so we don’t have some people putting in 60 hours while others get 10.

    5. NGL*

      Another YES to reducing expectations. Just this week I sent my manager my to-do list and asked for help prioritizing. Which she did, and several things could be pushed to next week. But what about next week’s to-do list? It feels like a lot of passing the buck, pushing things back…until suddenly we’re going to hit a wall where a lot of things can’t be put off anymore.

    6. Running on coffee*

      Your last paragraph in 100% true. My employer has been good about allowing time off, but the expectations for productivity haven’t really changed, so I feel like we’re in a weird bind here.

      1. Working Mom*

        I was already a full time telecommuter, as was most of my team – so the biggest change for us has been no childcare. Previously childcare was required – working from home is not a substitute for childcare (exceptions for sick kids, of course.) Now, it’s totally normal and expected to hear kids crying in the background, kids playing, even kids yelling (because Life). My Manager does not expect that I’m sitting at my desk from 8-5 (to be fair she didn’t entirely expect that before – but even more so now). I’m managing my team the same way – flex your schedule throughout the day in whatever way makes sense for you. It doesn’t need to add up to 8 hours daily (or even 40 hours weekly – we are salaried), so long as the work is getting done. It’s difficult to lower expectations in our line of work, but we’re cutting meetings shorter, eliminating meetings we can do without for a period of time, and expecting less in other areas that are not client-focused.

        I love my company!!

    7. I don’t post often*

      Yes! To the last paragraph. My company has offered flexibility, but we were going through transitions without COVID. Now top performers are being praised- which is fine. But top performers of the last eight weeks do not have small children and most aren’t in a committed relationship. My job has always been a bit outside the box from the rest- I write the processes and controls to produce the widgets, but I don’t produce the widgets. It’s already hard to quantify my work against the others. I’m currently sitting in four hours of meetings today but have a 100 page doc due tomorrow. All my work time has been eaten by meetings. Guess I won’t sleep tonight?!

    8. myswtghst*

      “Make more hard decisions about priorities due to reduced capacity with people shifting to a lighter workweek. “

      Yes to this, and also, help people plan for those shifting priorities in a real way, not just with hand-waves and platitudes.

      My coworker and I were put on intermittent furlough, and are working 24 hours per week (instead of FT). Our boss had us set schedules to follow, but loves to make comments about how we can “just shift [our] hours!” if something comes up. Which sounds nice, but doesn’t really work when it’s Friday morning and I’ve already worked 23 hours this week, and you’ve made it clear you won’t pay me for more than 24 hours, and has led to me feeling stressed out anytime there’s a lull in my work and I have to wonder if I should log out for a bit just in case I “need” those hours later in the week.

    9. Shira*

      Yes yes yes to setting priorities. My company actually did things “backwards” (or really the logical way, but the reverse from what many are describing here) – they cut/postponed a bunch of lower-tier projects and furloughed or reduced employees’ hours accordingly. Yes, it’s difficult from a financial perspective that I’m not getting paid as much as before, but I’m so grateful that I’m not expected to keep up with my usual workload when I’m drowning in the constant presence of my wonderful, needy needy children.
      My advice to employees is to proactively approach your manager and initiate a conversation about prioritizing your workload. I understand it can be tricky but I would hope that addressing this head-on and acknowledging that business as usual isn’t happening and that you want to deal with it in the best possible way by actually making a plan would reflect well on you – if you have a decent manager/boss.

    10. Door Guy*

      Our company is doing case by case if there are any fears about working (we are essential, under security and access) and as far as I know, there have only been maybe 2 employees that have even brought it up, and neither were from my office.

      We are, though, relaxing our 2 week requirement for requested days off, and handling any of the ‘odd’ situations as they pop up with leniency.

      We’ve got some people upset that they aren’t getting overtime, but we’re very slow at the moment and there’s only so many times we can have them sweep the floor or organize their truck in a week because we are trying to make sure they get their 40 hours. We’re not denying overtime if it happens, like say a job runs long, though.

  7. Doug Judy*

    They quickly did away with the requirement to have childcare while working from home. They have been great so far. However, since Wisconsin last night basically became a free for all, I have no idea what will happen going forward. The email from my work this morning was that we’ll continue to operate as we have since mid March. However, if daycares are going to reopen, I will likely have to send my kids and return to the office. I prefer to work in the office. However, I am uncomfortable with the possibility that I’ll be forced to before it is actually safe to do so. I trust my company will continue to do the right thing, however the inconsistency from all levels of government is confusing and doesn’t help me or my company make the right decision.

    1. Cheesehead*

      Greetings also from the state of Wisconsin! We just found out that my boss expects us all back in the office on June 1, which everyone will be pushing back on (coworker is 70 and had a triple bypass, coworker with a kid, two people with severe asthma). My coworker with an 18 month old has no idea what she is going to do because the only kids welcome in her daycare right now are the kids of essential workers. Anywho, happy wild wild west day in Wisconsin.

      1. Mama Bear*

        Saw photos of people in bars “business as usual”. I really feel for you over there, especially with the news about the inflammatory disease that’s killing kids in NY which seems to be related to the virus. Good luck getting your boss to see reason.

      2. Doug Judy*

        Yes it’s insane. I mean I’m not surprised because binge drinking and alcoholism is basically celebrated here, but it’s disheartening to people immediately crowd bars. I live in Brown County and we’re the highest per capita, basically because a majority here still think it’s no worse than the flu.

        Hopefully individual business will do the right thing even if the government won’t.

        1. Captain Raymond Holt*

          Dane County here – I was not at all surprised Wisconsinites return to their native habitat. Our most powerful lobby, the Tavern League, definitely helped with that one.

          The outbreak at the meatpacking plant up there certainly doesn’t help either.

          I’d like to hope that individual businesses do the right thing, but it’s hard to know what that is when navigating through inconsistent local, county, state and federal orders, guidelines and suggestions.

          This state embarrasses me sometimes.

          1. Christy*

            (Unrelated but I love that this is Captain Raymond Holt responding to Doug Judy.)

          2. Kelly*

            Another WI and Dane County resident. My sister who lives in Minnesota and has been working 60+ hours, 6 days a week in the public health field there texted me a link with a USA Today story about bars reopening. She sarcastically asked if I was out at the bars today, knowing that Dane County is abiding by the Safer at Home order through May 26th. I sent her a picture of my cat in his cat bed watching the birds with the comment that he has other priorities than going to the bars with me.

            I work in academia and have been working from home for 8 weeks now, only going into campus once a week for a couple hours to make sure there’s no physical issues in my workspace. I wouldn’t be shocked if my boss puts in a request for a new environmental monitoring and climate control system that can be monitored remotely after this, so one person doesn’t have to go in weekly to check on our space if we have to repeat this experience.

            Our leadership is working to present a plan to the campus higher ups for a gradual return to campus and return to providing services next week. Unofficially, we’ve been told to plan on working remotely through the middle of June.

            I don’t have kids, but the uncertainty about how to handle child care, especially if not all day care reopen beginning of June, and concern about how safe public transit will be are two concerns people have about returning to campus. Given that we’ve been told that our leadership wants to be thoughtful and understanding about people’s circumstances, and so far, they’ve been great about communicating during this time, I feel that we’ll be given enough notice for our eventual return to our physical workspaces.

      3. TiffIf*

        I keep seeing the news out of Wisconsin (this, the whole primary thing) and I’m sorry but all I can think is WHAT THE ACTUAL HELL.

        1. Data Nerd*

          My own theory is Mad Cow Disease (based on 42 years’ worth of observing my relatives and their neighbors in Appleton and Waupaca). It’s really all I can come up with when you take into account Joseph McCarthy, Paul Ryan and Scott Walker.

      4. tangerineRose*

        A smart employer would let people keep working from home to: keep morale higher and reduce the amount of sickness (and possible death) in their employees.

    2. ThatGirl*

      My college roomie/BFF is in Wisconsin, and man, I’m sure she would love to send her kids back to daycare (she has a 4 year old and a 1 year old) but also it seems like total chaos and a bad idea. I feel like she can continue to WFH indefinitely, but her husband is a teacher, are they going to try to reopen schools for a month??

      1. Doug Judy*

        I doubt schools will bother to reopen, but I’m not sure of anything right now. And as much as I can’t wait to get back to normal, I don’t think now is the time to do it. Cases in my county are not going down, and a lot of this is predicted on people being responsible adults. My kids 14 and 6, so technically if I had to go back to the office I could. But, that’s an enormous burden to put on my oldest to try and continue his schoolwork and be a kindergartener teacher. It’s a mess.

        1. ThatGirl*

          I didn’t think there were any changes to schools, but I hadn’t personally investigated. I agree that now is definitely not the time! I want to ask my friend if they have a plan or what’s going on, but I also imagine she’s pretty stressed at the moment so I don’t want to bug her.

    3. Jules the 3rd*

      Good luck, y’all. I hope your employers get reasonable.

      I thought Dr. Erin Bromage’s article “The Risks – Know Them – Avoid Them’ had good information for employers on how to reopen more safely. Link in next comment if you want backup for conversations with your employers.

    4. HR Bee*

      Wisconsin here, as well. I am lucky enough to live in the North Shore MKE area and our Health Department issued their own order substantially similar to Ever’s order very shortly after the ruling came down. So not complete chaos here. But yea, it’s pretty ridiculous.

      1. Thankfully an Ex-Libris*

        What’s up semi-neighbor, LES side here right off Water St. I was about ready to buy a water gun and hose people trying to go to Brady St from my porch. Public shame or bust – thankful for the city ordinance instead.

        I’m less worried about MKE city government not handling this well and more worried about traveling dinguses and dangerous legal precedent.

    5. Jo*

      Greetings also from Wisconsin! My employer has been super flexible in allowing me to work from home with my kid while daycare is closed. My boss has always emailed me to ask if when would be a good time to talk prior to calling me – I’ve really appreciated this. For any video chats, people have been understanding if I’m not on the video camera or if my microphone is muted. My kid’s daycare is supposed to open up June 1, but I’m expecting that our office will remain closed until early August. We’re still not sure if we’re sending them back or not.

      1. allathian*

        Microphones should always be muted when you’re not talking yourself. I really don’t get it why some employers are pushing back so hard against basic videoconferencing etiquette. I have a slight hearing loss and don’t want to hear anything except the speaker when I attend video conferences or conference calls. It’s hard enough for me to make out what people are saying as it is. My closest coworker has more severe hearing loss and wears hearing aids, so it’s even more crucial for him. I think that most people with normal hearing would appreciate as little extra noise as possible on the call.

    6. Kiwiii*

      Also Wisconsin here — very grateful that my job is both in Dane County and that it’s being extremely accommodating of all workers. It’s looking like while it might reopen offices for people who are itching to go back in, the rest of us can WFH possibly indefinitely, but then — all our clients are remote and our main mission is equity focused, so I’m not surprised.

    7. Humbug*

      Another greetings from WI!

      My workplace just issued a declaration that we’re going back, possibly even a Monday, with all these precautions people must take, from taking your temperature to wiping down the bathroom after use to only designated people accessing supplies—except masks aren’t required. WTF?? The particular building I’m in has a cramped open office space. To get to anywhere, you have to pass by at least four people in a narrow passageway.

      I’m in a high risk group so have been allowed to stay remote for now, but they said they’re working on accommodating me and others like me, somehow. Bluntly, I don’t want to go back until there’s a vaccine. It’s as if my organization hasn’t heard of asymptomatic people, of the still-climbing rates of infection, of any of that. Too eager to get back to the office. Bah.

    8. Existentialista*

      More greetings from Wisconsin! Yesterday was a roller coaster of a day, but I’m lucky to work for a company that manufactures products that are useful for protecting against the virus, and our leadership has pointed out that we need to walk the walk by demonstrating care for our employees and customers, and by modelling safe behavior. I think I’ll be working remotely for a while longer, and am happy to support local bars by drinking their beer out of cans at home.

  8. Jen*

    For parents and ALL staff – our higher-ups have been so, so accommodating. People are welcome to work off-hours, or even less than 8 hours when necessary. Unlimited paid sick days for yourself or family members as needed, no medical documentation required. Kids and pets are welcome in Zoom meetings. Staff are encouraged to take frequent breaks, longer lunch breaks, to step out for urgent errands as needed. Staff have shifted almost entirely from obsessing about the hours put in to project-based management. I can’t believe how much flexibility my workplace has given us, and it shows! Even though we’re a non-profit that normally depends on in-person fundraising, our revenues are stable.

    1. Patricia*

      So when you treat people like adults and allow them to manage their own time they still get the job done. Interesting! (said with sarcasm LOL)

      1. Jen*

        RIGHT?! It’s hilarious, because our CEO used to be obsessed with butts in seats, hated WFH, and was religious about “time theft” and used to scold people for chatting in the kitchen. But then we were forced to transition to almost entirely WFH and the org is still thriving, and the higher-ups have actually admitted they were wrong! I’m really hoping that even after something resembling normal life returns, we’ll be able to keep this flexibility.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Back last fall, we had a whole Big Thing about not being able to WFH regularly anymore – we got bought by a huge parent company, the old CEO left, and apparently the new guy hated the idea and thought some depts were abusing the privilege.

          And now we have to and everyone is doing a pretty solid job of keeping things running, imagine that! I too hope this will have some lasting effects, but I guess we’ll see.

        2. tangerineRose*

          “the higher-ups have actually admitted they were wrong!” That’s a good thing and doesn’t always happen, even when it’s clear that they’re wrong.

      2. rayray*

        This is one silver lining I hope to see come from all of this. I think many of us have realized that adults do not need constant supervision or micromanagement. Work can get done without being at a desk during a set amount of hours.

    2. AmberEliza*

      I’m with a non-profit also and ours is membership based and it’s a little scary right now! I will say though that I feel like the non-profits I’ve seen and heard about are being incredibly generous and flexible which is nice! (mine included in that)

      1. Threeve*

        My nonprofit is being very candid about our financial situation, how many months they’re confident we’ll be secure, what steps they’re currently taking (hiring freeze, etc), what future steps they’ll be willing to take (cutting vacation vs cutting pay/benefits, pay cuts starting at the top, things like that). It’s much appreciated.

        1. AmberEliza*

          Same with us. It’s been really reassuring to know where the organization is at as a whole. I do worry that layoffs are coming but I truly believe they’ll be handled as gracefully as possible

          1. Jen*

            Agreed – openness is super helpful! Our org is lucky to be in a really solid financial situation, but so many NFPs are running on shoestring budgets. Honesty about timelines (“we’re keeping our head above water now, but will need to consider layoffs in X weeks”) is so refreshing and a sign of trust in employees.

    3. Ophelia*

      We’ve done similar things – flexible hours (you can ramp down with no threat of losing benefits), expanded sick time, and just generally “we realize you’re human” – and so far, it’s working well. I think if school closures continue into the fall (I’m in NY), there will probably have to be a reckoning around having two working parents (and more people choosing the part-time option), but so far my challenges are due to ~waves hands futilely at circumstances~ and less due to any rigidity on the part of my employer.

      1. Ophelia*

        Oh, and everyone has been working from home for about 2 months now, and they’ve basically said that can continue indefinitely.

      2. Super Admin*

        “We realize you’re human” – this should be the motto for all half-decent companies at the moment.

        My company have been very good as well with flexibility – and the understanding that occasionally pets and children will crash your Zoom call (though I could have done without hearing a full episode of Dora the Explorer in the background of my meeting yesterday). They’re not expecting people to keep to strict 9-5, and they’re understanding that some days you’ll have a two hour lunch break cos you need to get groceries outside of peak times. My team and manager in particular have been very accepting of the fact that none of us will be performing to the level we usually do, and there’s an understanding that non-essential work will take longer as we struggle with the current situation.

        Where they’re going the extra mile is implementing leave days you can code directly as COVID related – whether you’re ill, looking after a family member, needing to homeschool, or needing a mental health day. These are additional to any vacation/sick leave. They’re also providing a monthly allowance for childcare, that you can use to purchase things needed for homeschooling (printers, app subscriptions, online learning, etc.) or other childcare related costs (most common is having to pay for afterschool clubs despite everything being shut, just to reserve your child’s place once schools reopen).

        I don’t have kids, but frankly my company has been amazing to all of us, and especially understanding of what parents are having to deal with right now.

    4. Mrs. Cary Elwes*

      Same, and nonprofit (museum) worker here as well. It’s a “do what you can, when you can” situation, with the expectation that we prioritize certain initiatives. My team are hourly but I treat them as though they’re salaried. Log the hours so you get paid, work when you can. At the beginning of this crisis, HR emailed supervisors and told us to give our teams as much latitude as possible. Our educators sometimes have their kids present when they hold remote learning classes, cat butts pop up in meetings with our director… it’s delightful.

      The other thing we try to do is limit meetings to 30 minutes or less. There are topics that really need more time to discuss, but so many of us have young children and a few are single parents- and there’s only so long my kiddos can go before I need to give them my full attention.

      Museums are experiencing layoffs at an alarming rate. We’re all on tenterhooks, so I think part of our willingness to be more forgiving of missed deadlines, dead air, and canceled meetings is the sense of camaraderie and sympathy.*

      *There are some museums where the directors and executives expect butts in seats for 8 hours a day. Those are also the directors who get paid over a million dollars but offer their entry level staff 30K and are laying off front line staff.

  9. Mama Bear*

    Company is doing the best they can, IMO. People who can WFH (not all jobs are portable) can put in a request to do so FT or PT, they’ve given everyone extra PTO, and are trying to be very understanding. It is no longer uncommon to hear a kid in the background and nobody seems to mind as long as the child isn’t directly disruptive. Flexibility for parents (or anyone, really, who has a situation that needs tending – some people are helping elderly relatives whose normal support is gone) is one of the best things companies can do.

  10. Temperance*

    My firm is doing a good job not only supporting parents, but also supporting non-parents and ensuring that we don’t all end up overworked to cover. They started a few support/resource groups for parents with kids of different ages. They’re going to bring us back to work in stages, and childcare is a valid, accepted reason to work from home.

  11. MusicWithRocksIn*

    My company has been pretty great – very flexible with turn around time, understanding about email response time. The only thing I really wish I had was leverage to move phone meetings to nap time. Asking the people who are having the most difficulty with working from home right now (younger kids, aging parents, tag-team working and parenting with the other parents) and ask what time would be best for them for a meeting would be very helpful.

  12. Homer Simpson*

    I’m working from home with a toddler and my the extent of my job’s support and benefits has been “Yeah we know it’s tough, but that’s no excuse to not be as productive as everyone else.”
    Yes, I do work for the government, how did you know?

    1. JimmyJab*

      That sucks! I also work for the (state) government and our leadership has been awesome, saying to everyone, not just parents, get what you can done, and don’t worry about it. Maybe it helps that our main leadership all have several children?

    2. AnonPi*

      Same here. No leniency or accommodations at all, besides “well you can use your vacation”.

    3. J*

      Yes. Lots of “the taxpayers expect this of us.” And we get up to 80 hours to use for COVID-related illness in ourselves, our spouses, and our children, as well as child care. (That’s combined. Not per instance.)

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I find it hilarious [in that if I don’t laugh, I cry in rage way] that they use this against you to keep you from apparently “wasting tax dollars”.

        As a tax payer, I want them to actually streamline, update their clunky rinkydink ass systems and you know, use those dollars more efficiently. I don’t care if y’all have coffee on me or 27 pizza parties a year on our tax dollars. But boy do I loath the systems you have in place, which I know everyone working with them are suffering on the daily basis unlike those you serve, who often don’t deal with some departments more than once in a life time if that. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRR, stop using the imaginary “tax payers” expectations to abuse your staff, Government Leadership Who is So Wildly Out of Frigging Touch.

    4. Kyrielle*

      My kids are older fortunately, but it’s not a non-issue for me, and the company’s official stance is “do your best” but my boss’s stance is “we expect your usual productivity, but we don’t mind if you spread it out over 12 hours instead of 8”.

      1. allathian*

        I hope you’re all exempt, then. For hourly employees this would not fly, at least not in the US (I’m not, so I’m sure someone will tell me if I got it wrong).

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          Or at least it wouldn’t fly unless the company was prepared to be very, very liberal with overtime.

    5. JM in MD*

      I work for the federal govt and my agency and supervisor have been amazing. I have two kids in elementary and middle school, one special needs. We can “glide” our hours and work on Saturdays, but Sunday is not allowed. For parents with school-aged children we have been given special leave (not using our personal leave) to make up the difference for the 40 hour work week when we need to help our kids, monitor their online classes, etc. But unfortunately those with toddlers are not able to use this leave. A lot of my work is based on travel and meeting with stakeholders, so my workload has been reduced and now not so urgent. My spouse is essential and also taking online courses, so this special leave has been a lifesaver.

  13. Fabulous*

    One thing my company does all the time is offer emergency childcare (or “family” care, if it’s an elder) for if your regular care falls through. Basically, they’ve teamed up with a few daycares throughout the US who can take on kids as needed for a day or two while you get things sorted. There’s a few different options. They have a special Crisis Care going on right now where you can basically get free money. Though I tried to take advantage of it while my daycare is closed and the submission form wouldn’t work for me the several times I tried…

    Individually, my manager has been amazing. She has kids herself and understands their demands and allows accommodations that way. Basically I’ve been told to just clock in/out per normal, and then take care of whatever I need to take care of during the day (while doing what I can work-wise). Before the shelter-in-place, I even made trips to the store during my work hours so I didn’t have to go when there was a crowd.

  14. JokeyJules*

    In my company the culture has definitely shifted towards being way more understanding understanding. We are a consulting firm, so usually the general culture on projects is “do whatever needs to be done to get it done by deadline.” and now it’s become much more collaborative based on what people can manage to get done, people are being a lot more patient about getting responses from emails. Due by “COB” has been changed to “before noon the next day”, etc. I know that this means staff without kids or without someone they are caring for are taking on a bit more, but most of the work to be pretty evenly distributed. Video calls are a lot more interesting, and everyone is just purposely trying to be understanding and patient when someone is interrupted by a toddler. It has actually been really nice to see!

    Keeping in mind, this is all from the perspective of someone without a child or loved one to care for.

  15. Ali G*

    We are a small non-profit and we are all WFH for the time being. I will say we are really just letting parents do whatever they need to. We’ve always had flexible work schedules, but for the most part, we’ve tossed core hours out of the window. Leadership keeps telling all of us they know we can’t do it all. We have very generous leave with most staff having 5+ weeks, so people are also just taking days off (we are in the US before anyone gets on that train).
    We’ve also been extremely supportive of parents that want to take the EFMLA, and we are letting them use their sick or vacation time to still earn 100% of their salaries.

    1. Ali G*

      Oh and I forgot! Even after we are allowed to go back to the office, no one will be forced to. We just need to work our schedules our with our supervisors for what make the most sense for us. This is especially important for people that take public transportation or who aren’t comfortable putting their kids back in day care, etc.

      1. JayJay*

        This is what I’m most worried about – that we will forced to go back before it’s actually safe, and I will have to choose between my job and sending my kids to a germ-filled daycare.

        1. Ali G*

          That was my biggest fear too. Just because we can, should we? I am so glad my org said that we could do what we were comfortable with. I’m going in tomorrow to get my standing desk because I think I’ll be at home quite a bit longer.

        2. Working Hypothesis*

          I was worried about that for a while, because my husband’s somewhat high risk (how much so depends on whom you ask). The clinic where I work is planning to reopen at the beginning of June, but have thankfully been super about letting us know that nobody HAS to come back then; that they will start up with whoever wants to and feels comfortable with returning. The rest of us — and I’ve already let them know I’m in that category — can make our own decisions about when we feel safe returning to work, and our jobs will still be there when we do. This is admittedly easier with the kind of work we do, since our schedules are somewhat built around how many hours which of us want to put in anyway, but it is definitely a good thing, and takes a lot of stress off me.

      2. Mama Bear*

        This is important because at least locally not all public transit is up to full schedule/capacity. They may not be able to take the bus to work for a while.

  16. Amy*

    I have 3 young kids and all I want from my employer is flexibility. And I’m getting it.

    In exchange, I’m not prioritizing homeschool over work. Childcare and work are my priorities. Homeschool is a distant distant 3rd.

    1. J.B.*

      Homeschool is rough to begin with. I was absolutely clear with my kids teachers that my work had.to come first.

  17. AmberEliza*

    My company has been amazing. They’ve assured us that they do not expect us to be available at all times nor do they want us to. They’re allowing us to flex our hours however we see fit and encourage us to set aside time for the kids. We have a company wide meeting on Monday mornings (which is a bit excessive, we used to do it once a month) and our CEO is continually reminding us that it is OKAY to step away, to turn our phones off, to close out our emails when we need to. HR is also encouraging us to use the COVID family leave so we can truly be with our families. I feel incredibly lucky to work for them! And I love what I do, which is a great bonus!

  18. Murphy*

    As university policy, they’ve been giving us paid administrative leave for the time we’re not able to work due to child care circumstances. I’m not sure how long that will last but we have it for now. My managers in particular are also pretty understanding that I can’t work full-time without child care.

    My husband’s work (either his office or clients) keep scheduling meetings that go all day long, or they schedule meetings at the last minute which is really disruptive and difficult. Sometimes I also have a meeting during that time or I basically don’t get to work some days except during nap time (which is not a given) so I wish they’d stop doing by that. There’s only so flexible we can be.

  19. Lilian*

    I’m in a country without a strict lock down, working in an IT firm. While most of us are working from home, for those of us who have kids and can’t concentrate at home, my company hired a babysitter to sit with everyone’s kids in one of our conference rooms. They installed an infra-red thermometer everyone must pass, and provided masks and hand sanitizer for the parents and kids who wish to come in. We’re a company of around 40 in a pretty spacey office, and apparently there are currently about 3-4 people with kids going in right now.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      This is a single post. Dealing with a specific issue. There are other posts that address the issue you bring up. People are capable of being interested in more than one thing, and people are also capable of not reading a post that does not interest them.

  20. TimeCat*

    I get up to 2 hours a day of paid administrative leave for childcare (this applies to care for an adult or similar who requires care), plus extended flex hours until midnight. You did have to apply for the admin leave.

  21. Molly*

    Our organization (federal government: health and human services) has made it so we can work from home without childcare (not normally acceptable), has made it so we can complete our 8.5 hour workday any time between 6am-7pm (which allows me more flexibility to trade work/parenting shifts with my husband), and there is an option to apply for up to 10 hours a week for paid administrative leave, when we do not have childcare and cannot complete work due to COVID-19. That and just being understanding that I have 2 young kids at home and sometimes they’ll hear/see noise in the background, and that I am less available during business hours but that they may get emails from me early in the morning or late at night, and that email is better than unscheduled phone calls right now.

    1. Student*

      My fed job has done the same, and my supervisor has given me a bunch of stuff to do that’s not precisely makework but doesn’t require the same kind of intense concentration my normal work does. He’s basically said that I can only do what I can do and they’re fine with that.

  22. Amber Rose*

    Anyone who needs to stay home with kids can, as long as they get done what they can. That’s all. I imagine it would be more difficult if our most critical staff even had kids, but aside from management few people do around here. I get a bit of the giggles when I hear babies and little kids interrupting our morning meetings though, because they get so exasperated and I think the ones home would rather be here.

    I have one coworker who hasn’t been here since the beginning of March and who may not be able to come back at all until next year because his baby daughter needed a massive transplant two years ago (I can’t remember the name, but basically her whole stomach and everything in it) and he can’t risk bringing it home to her. And, to my company’s credit, nobody has so much as questioned this and I haven’t heard anyone complain about it.

  23. LizM*

    Federal agency here. We’ve loosened our telework policy to allow employees to telework while also caregiving.

    My agency is also providing up to 10 hours a week of paid administrative leave for caregivers (not just parents, but anyone with dependents who have had their typical caregiving plans disrupted by COVID-19, so this applies to dependent adults as well if home health aides, day programs, etc. have been canceled or suspended). Employees can also use accrued sick or annual leave, and I believe there is a new leave category under the CARES or Family First Act, but that’s not paid at 100% (I haven’t really looked into that).

    This isn’t a formal policy, but something my team has implemented is core hours (3-4 hours per day), and we try to schedule all meetings during those hours. This seems to help parents who are trading childcare duties with a partner plan ahead. Other work can happen whenever parents can fit it in. We’re also trying to minimize impromptu meetings, and giving parents enough notice that they can coordinate with their partners. Obviously this isn’t as helpful for single parents or parents whose partners are still working outside the home, but even then, having a level of predictability seems to be helping.

    1. LizM*

      I forgot the mention, the flip side of the core hours is that people are asked to be available during that time if we do need to have a quick impromptu phone call or email, so if a person isn’t at their computer, we are asked to keep our phone with us and keep an eye on emails. If you call or email someone outside of those hours, there’s a recognition that it may take that person more time than usual to get back to you.

    2. J*

      The new federal COVID-related leave policy, at least as explained by my agency, in a nutshell:

      *Not technically leave– coded as regular time, and you do not need to exhaust any other sort of leave before accessing it
      *max telework still applies– if you can telework, you can’t take this leave
      *up to 80 hrs, paid at 100% for care of self and 2/3 for care of others (subject to daily and yearly maxes that mean higher grades can’t get 8hrs/day– where this cut-off is depends on your locality pay; here in DC it starts impacting people caring for others at GS-10 step 7 and for themselves at GS-14 step 5)
      *eligible scenarios: you’re under stay-at-home orders, you’ve been directed to isolate by a doctor, you’re waiting for a diagnosis, you’re caring for a COVID-sick family member, you’ve lost childcare due to COVID (if the school building is closed but distance learning is happening, that is an eligible situation– it’s about closure of the physical space); the last two categories pay out at 2/3 time, the first three at 100%
      *at least in my agency, some regional directors have been allowing parents to take weather & safety leave to care for their kids; now that this leave is an option they’re no longer eligible for W&S– what happens in three weeks when the kids are still home? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
      *there are documentation requirements, but our HR is being surprisingly lenient about these

      1. J*

        Oh, and it’s 80 total. So if you use the 80 hours for childcare this month, it is not available if you get sick next month. April 1-December 31, 2020 is the range this leave is available for, and you can apply it retroactively to sick/annual leave or leave without pay time you’ve already taken.

  24. JayJay*

    I work for the government and things really vary depending on your agency and boss. Mine have been awesome. The main thing the agency has done is offer 20 hours per pay period of excused absence for anyone with caregiving responsibilities. This basically means I’m working part-time hours for my regular pay. My boss has been great by adjusting my workload to account for my reduced hours, letting me flex my time over the course of the day, and being supportive of asking clients to be understanding about delays.

  25. KimberlyR*

    My company has set everyone up to work from home at this time, due to the stay-at-home order that is still in effect. They think they’ll slowly transition people back to the office starting in June, but only some so that there is still some distance between coworkers. But our policy allows for parents to work from home for as long as needed, due to childcare issues. They don’t specify what the “issues” have to be-so you can choose to keep your child at home if you don’t feel like its safe to send them anywhere, even once camps/summer care opens up.

    Otherwise, they leave flexibility to our managers. On our team, when someone needs to step away (to fix the kids’ lunch, put a child down for a nap, etc), we just let the team know we’re stepping away and everyone covers for that person. We also let people without kids step away if they want, so this isn’t a perk for parents only. As long as the majority of the team is able to handle email and phones, we have a lot of flexibility if we need it.

  26. AvonLady Barksdale*

    My company isn’t doing anything special, which is kind of disheartening. Everyone is trying to be flexible, but it’s not a company directive, if that makes sense. So there hasn’t been a lot of guidance. Personally, I don’t have kids, but I am absolutely more flexible with my kid-having colleagues, to the point where I have offered to read a book to my co-worker’s kids if she thinks they’ll sit still long enough to listen, just to give her a break. One of my colleagues with kids is having a terrible time; her husband is essential and still going in to his office and her daughter is a toddler at the worst age for this– old enough to ask questions and talk but too young to entertain herself for long. Her boss has been less than understanding, from what I’ve heard.

    My partner works for the federal government and his department has been hosting story hours and upped their flexibility. I love it. I even volunteered to read a story, which I did a few weeks ago. It gave the parents a bit of a brain break.

    1. Ophelia*

      Oof, I really feel for your co-worker. I’ve found that my almost-7-yo is pretty free range at this point, and it’s working fine, but the 3-yo is a totally different story. Offering to read a story was such a nice offer, and so thoughtful!

      1. KaciHall*

        My four year old is mostly okay with his coloring books and probably too much blues clues (he’s watched six seasons a few times each and gotten bored, so now he does his own blues clues games – he’s great at ‘finding’ three clues, not so good at having them actually mean anything) and I’m so grateful my office is letting me continue working from home until his daycare opens back up.

  27. Megumin*

    I work at a large state university, so I’m sure it varies widely across departments. I work in IT, and my bosses have been very understanding. No official policy has been changed, but we did confirm with our CIO early on that those of us with kids at home would not be penalized. We also let it be known that working a full 8 hours was just not going to be possible most days. My boss has been great. I’m not getting quite as much done as I normally would, but my boss has always been a results-oriented manager, so it hasn’t been an issue. I don’t really take a formal lunch break like I used to…and that’s just out of choice, because I have so many interruptions throughout the day, I just forgo it. At each of our dept-wide meetings, my CIO has said it’s good to see kids and pets on video calls, and wants to make sure we take care of our families first.

    There have been a few of the directors that have made comments about “just schedule your meetings after the kids are in bed” or something like that, where they are expecting a full 8 hours every day. I think everyone just needs to drop the “you must do a full 8 hours” thing, for exempt people. Even in pre-COVID times, no one *really* put in a full 8 hours every single day – there was always breaks and water cooler talk, etc. Also, being in IT, we often do various after-hours work because some server is down or there’s patching, etc, so it evens out. I’m sure some of the other managers are making their exempt employees fill out timesheets and track every minute, and I think that’s ridiculous.

  28. Seeking Second Childhood*

    My company had no telecommute outside of business travel for several years — but as soon as schools started closing, they authorized work-from-home for any parent whose job could be done at home. Schedules are more flexible than before, around requirements of the actual job & tasks.
    That said, I don’t see anything said about supporting people whose jobs require they be on-site. If anything, it would be worse because off added-on time for health screening on entrance to the facility.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      We have not yet been given word on how summer will be planned — in my state, summer camps will be allowed to open late….but some have already chosen to skip 2020. Those of us with high-risk family members are (probably) going to be allowed to back out of summer camp reservations.

  29. Amethyst Anne*

    The school cooks in the food service department of school districts across the commonwealth of Kentucky are bagging up breakfasts and lunches.

    In my district, administration staff members have been helping us cooks fill up the bags with 7 days worth of breakfasts and lunches. We have been doing enough bags to feed about 1400 students. The bags are delivered to each student’s home by their regular bus drivers, and teacher’s aides(riding the bus) put the bags in covered totes the parents have placed outside.

    1. Nita*

      So much appreciation for the school food departments. So many people here in NYC have lost their jobs… at least they can keep food on the table this way. And I think school food is helping a lot of parents stay employed. Last summer I was on maternity leave with three kids, food shopped every 2-3 days, and cooked and washed dishes literally non-stop. Everything I bought and cooked would be gone in a blink. Everything. Even when I tried to do a basic, large pot of noodles to last a few days, it would be inhaled that night at dinner and next morning I’d start from Square One. I can’t imagine doing this while trying to work from home – if it wasn’t for our schools handing out lunches, I’d probably have to go very part time, or quit. And stores are crowded, and no one really does social distancing – so glad I can give the kids school lunch, and cut the shopping trips down to once every 2-3 weeks!

    2. SweetestCin*

      Very similar in our district in Michigan – ours aren’t “delivered”, but its a no-contact drive through type situation for pickup at the district high schools. And thank goodness for that, as it definitely helps get the milk and produce that can be difficult to come by if store stock is absent!

      1. Amethyst Anne*

        That is also an option in our district. There are 4 places in the county where parents can pick up food bags. We are also giving bags to the students’ too-young-for-school siblings.

  30. Ancient Alien*

    Major health insurance company here. They’ve created a special intranet with a vast array of resources for the employees during COVID. These resources contain a cornucopia of very useful information such as getting a houseplant for your home office to brighten things up. I thought this whole affair was going to be much more stressful, but with tips like that (that i never would have thought of), it has really eased the mental burden of working and homeschooling.
    We are way behind our sales targets for the year so we are being heavily encouraged to “GET EXCITED” about work.

    What I wish they would do? At least let us carry over more than 40 hours of our PTO into next year. Nobody can go anywhere anyway, and for a lot of us with elderly parents/relatives, we have no idea how else to prepare for the worst than to save as much PTO as possible.

    1. Ancient Alien*

      To be fair, my immediate manager also has small kids at home and has been awesome about the whole thing.

  31. In house energy lawyer*

    My (Fortune 500) company has added additional paid dependent care leave and relieved all child care requirements for WFH. Everyone who can WFH is, and will be until at least August, including our call center reps. We sent out social media posts letting customers know that our call center reps have kids at home so that they aren’t surprised if they hear some little voices in the background.

  32. Memily*

    We need more notice! My company had a meeting on a Thursday saying, “OK, state’s opened back up, see you Monday!” NOPE, not enough time to figure out childcare, since daycares weren’t open yet. I was lucky—my immediate boss has older kids and is very understanding of my situation and I’m still working from home, but I’m the only one at work with a kid under school age and dang it shows.

    My husband keeps getting pulled into last-minute video meetings (for nothing, which is the dumbest part), and that’s a huge hassle too. Giving more notice when scheduling for those (like, a couple of days) would be fantastic.

    1. Megumin*

      That sucks! I have small children as well, and I told my boss I simply can’t come back into the office until my day care is open, period. He’s been very understanding about it, but I’m not sure all the managers in my area are as well. They need to give people time to prepare, even if it’s just a week! One more week of telecommuting is not going to hurt anyone.

      1. Anon Anon*

        My employer told us they’d give us 72 hours notice. I told them that wasn’t nearly enough. It’s not so much an issue for me personally, but I have co-workers with school age kids, who need more lead time to find childcare. Especially, as so many of the traditional childcare options for school age kids aren’t open this summer.

      2. Memily*

        It honestly doesn’t surprise me. Both the owner and the VP are men with stay-at-home wives who just plain forget that the rest of us don’t have that luxury. This isn’t the first time something like this has come up.

        1. SweetestCin*

          I guess the bigger question is, how do they react to the reality of a situation, once they’re made aware of it? Do they handle it, or do they dismiss it and say “make it work somehow”?

          I’ve been lucky. I work in a pretty technical field with a lot of orderly logic; and my supervisors fit that mold as well. So when they ask a question such as “can you work from home? Do you have options for childcare?” and its pointed out that “I can indeed work from home, my children are old enough to handle themselves reasonably during the day, my spouse is an essential worker, and there are absolutely zero options for outside childcare right now due to X, Y, and Z”, I can see the wheels spin and do the math and things shift accordingly.

          We’ve been discussing how to handle summer, and thankfully thus far, they’ve been understanding that legally, I can’t leave them on their own due to age, even if I thought that was a good idea in the first place, and that every typical summer option is not happening this year. Locally we have no summer camps that will be taking place.

          1. Memily*

            They actually respond fairly well, but they tend to be just sort of…baffled, maybe? And once the specific issue is off their radar they forget and something else pops up where I have to explain it all again.

            Both men—especially the VP, but the owner too—are sales personalities. Not in a sleepy way, but definitely in a, “I’m gonna spin this” way. So they try to convince you of the benefits of whatever they’re trying to do. The owner is also pretty old-school, so butt-in-seat is pretty important. It’s kind of a mixed bag, but my immediate boss is definitely supportive of working parents and has no problem going to bat for both of us, so I usually just leave it to her.

            1. Memily*

              *not in a SLEEZY way. Not sleepy. Although that could also be a weird person to work for.

    2. Anon Anon*

      My big concern is when things reopen. To be honest, I don’t feel comfortable working in our office right now, and I doubt I will for months. Especially, as we have members of the public that come in and out of the building. Right now, my daycare, which is small, has a closed circle. In order to keep my kid there have to agree to socially distance myself and to limit outside content to shopping for essentials. That is to keep everyone else as safe as possible. It’s riskier than keeping my kid at home, but we’ve done everything we can to try and mitigate the risk to each other.

      The other parents have been told they will be working from home until the end of the year. So I’m a little concerned. We will see though.

      1. Memily*

        My daycare just got PPP funding and decided to open earlier than planned (part of the continued closure was because of funding issues). They were always going to reopen 6/1 and that’s what I told my work. Now they’re reopening next week and my husband and I just aren’t comfortable sending our kiddo back yet. So I’m honestly not telling work it’s even an option. They were ok with me working from home until June before, so I don’t really feel bad about it either.

  33. YouGottaThrowtheWholeJobAway*

    My company has more than 13k people all over the world. They have put in place the following for parents or any caretakers (elderly parents or any disabled in-home family member):

    -Guaranteed shortened working hour to 6 hours total if requested, organize with your manager and hr rep on best schedule and how to best handle meetings
    -Allowed extreme shifted schedules in countries where household burdens fall disproportionally on women (yes this is most but some have it worse than others…)
    -Allowed colleagues in EU countries with a lot of leave to use it extremely incrementally if shorter schedule is still not enough
    -Allowed colleagues in countries with govt salary replacement to be “furloughed”, which in practice means they get 80-95% of their pay and a guarantee their job will be held. Sadly not in the US.
    -Socially acceptable to keep an autoresponder up letting people know you are working but your hours or availability may not be immediate
    -WFH in place without further documentation needed until: a) government safety standards for each office site are met b) company safety standards are met (we’re a science publisher, so that is a much higher bar than say the CDC or whitehouse) c) childcare providers and schools are full time operational!!
    -Regular messaging from C suite that we are all supporting parents and it is very much encouraged to alert HR and your manager if something is really not working out; this is also with actual back-up as far as making sure mid-level managers comply
    -Voluntary buddy program for parents if they want to be matched up with someone they wouldn’t normally get to know in their home country, so they can let off steam or share tips somewhere that isn’t the company intranet or in HR

    Honestly I never thought they were particularly generous on things like parental leave and arrangements in the US compared to other companies before this, but since it’s been thoroughly proven how much we can still do from home, they’ve really learned from it! Really glad to work for sane people at this place right now. Before this I was looking at the door, thinking about my career steps, but now I’m reversing course.

  34. NotmyRealName*

    Work for an insurance company and they’ve been letting everyone WFH so far. They’re starting to bring people back in 3 waves starting soon though and we’ve been told they’ll work with us if there are child care issues or health issues. My direct manager just took their management training course about coming back though and has insinuated that they will not be allowing people to stay WFH past the last wave even if they have childcare or health issue, which seems contrary to the CEOs announcement just last week.

    Still waiting to see what happens and am planning to contact HR directly when the time comes. This particular manager has a tendency to play games and try’s to stir drama a lot, so unsure if they are actually telling the truth, or just want to be the one to “save everything” later to look like the hero.

  35. aett*

    Pretty good… so far. We were allowed to work from home starting in early March, which was very nice. However, we’re scheduled to return in a couple of weeks, and upper management hasn’t told our direct management anything other than “they’re waiting to see” what happens before extending WFH beyond that. If we do have to return, then my only option for childcare is an elderly relative, which is less than ideal because of COVID-19 and what we might be bringing home with us without knowing.

  36. anon today*

    I’ve been in the office the whole time, but my husband was WFH from mid-March to present. Our state opened back up, and so his office is too. Our little one has to go back to childcare Monday.

    I wish my husband could continue working from home at least through the end of the month.

  37. ThatGirl*

    I’m not a parent, but basically my company is offering as much flexibility as possible to everyone, including shifting hours, offering extra time off, etc. And they just said that even when our stay-at-home order is lifted, remote work will still be the first choice well into September. There are a few positions that will probably need to go into the office at least 1-2x a week, under stringent guidelines, but mine is not one of them.

    1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      My organization is similar.

      We’re global – mainly US and then Europe/Africa, so a lot of parents with kids at home, including me, are working a much longer day but less focused all the time. The longer day is probably increasing interaction with colleagues in other time zones, which is actually good.

      I often start with some stuff at 5-7am, then am on working but also some attention on the child from about 8:30-4pm, then may half an hour of work in the evening. Though once or twice a week I’m baked and done around 3pm just from exhaustion.

      The long days are rough and I feel I’m at only 80-90% productivity. Oh, and I’m not using vacation hours that are expiring: just too busy plus I’m less productive

  38. Lauren*

    Our president (a woman cause I think it matters as she doesn’t seem to mind being seen as human), has been fully interrupted in almost every meeting by her 4 year old including the time that he drove a toy car on her face during her presentation. It totally relaxed a bunch of people to see her be human and struggling and not just pretending that the world isn’t on fire right now.

  39. Pomegranate*

    I don’t have kids, but my employer seems to be very flexible with work hours timing and expectations. My manager has several little kids who I can sometimes hear on the phone or see on Zoom meetings. I was wondering if there is any advice on how I can make those kid interruptions less awkward from my end. I really don’t mind them! The kids are cute and aren’t very disruptive. I’d hear a tiny voice on the phone “Mommy, where is kitty hiding?”, my manager would stop our conversation “I think kitty is hiding in the kitchen, sweetheart” then make sure they don’t drink something they aren’t supposed to. What’s the best way for me to respond? Make a comment about cute kids? pause for a bit, then resume our project talk? wait for the manager to resume the conversation with me since she knows better than me when the child’s needs are done attending to? I don’t want the manager to feel awkward or self-conscious about having to take care of the kids while on a phone call with me, but I understand that our call is for work purposes and eventually we need to get back to the work chat. Parents of AAM, how would you want the person on the other end of the line respond to your child’s interruptions gracefully?

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      My preference is pause and move on. You could laugh and say, ‘how cute!’ but just once. Says the mom whose kid prefers to do his loud musical practice at prime meeting time and has totally been on the parent side of this…
      Did I mention sometimes his trombone sounds like a bodily function? Yeah. That was a fun call.

    2. Tiny Magnolia*

      Personally, I’d say “Hi, Susie Q! How are you today? Did you find Kitty?” or something along those lines if you have a pretty good relationship with your manager. My colleagues always say HI to my kiddos and it’s nice.

    3. Environmental Compliance*

      Am not parent. My go-to has been pause and wait. Chuckle and be warm if Parent says anything (a lot apologize, which is silly IMO, I don’t mind the occasional interruption and it’s just the time we live in right now). If it’s especially cute, I might mention how cute. Hopefully that hasn’t offended or made more awkward. Shout out to one person’s elementary? age kid who wanted to Be Independent and was apparently trying to move a big chair to climb on to get something, so all I got was loud scraping noises, a “oh, no, honey, no, you can’t do that” *sounds of slight scuffle* “BUT I CAN GET IT MYSELF!!!” followed by an exasperated “the chair isn’t going to help, you are still not going to be able to reach it, which is why you just need to ask someone” followed shortly by a “WELL THEN I’LL GET THE LADDER” which I’m not going to lie, was pretty entertaining. I have been assuming that the parent probably already feels stressed/embarrassed/overthinking it and I didn’t want to draw more attention to it, but also didn’t want to come across as irritated? with it by talking over the interruption or completely ignoring the situation, if that makes any sense.

    4. James*

      A lot of it’s going to depend on your relationship with your boss. I’ve been on both sides of this. As the parent, it’s embarrassing when your child interrupts your meeting. As the folks on the phone, it warrants a smile, maybe a quick comment, and then you move on. One meeting digressed for a moment to commiseration about the quality of children’s TV these days, but that’s our group culture, we tend to digress a lot. Think of it like any other interruption–just something you happen to accidently overhear, but which doesn’t relate to you so you can safely ignore.

      I’d say let the person in charge of the meeting and the parent in question take the lead. If they appear to want to minimize the interruption, just pretend it didn’t happen. No one will be offended. If you feel you must say something, a quick comment in a follow-up email works well–something along the lines 0f “As an aside, your daughter sounds adorable!” added to the end of an email works.

  40. Alexander Graham Yell*

    My company is fully WFH right now, and parents have been encouraged to talk with their partners about what schedule works for their home and then communicate that to us, rather than the other way around. So the family decides Parent A will be the go-to childcare parent for mornings, Parent B will be for afternoons or whatever, and then they block off the times they aren’t available for calls in their calendar. (This is for whatever works best, it doesn’t have to be in large chunks – so if you need to take 2 hours in the afternoon to help with homework, do it, just block the time off.)
    We’re religious about checking peoples calendars, so if something is blocked off we don’t double book. Nobody is really watching the clock to try to make people “make up” the time they spend on family, the only thing that matters is that deliverables are on time and up to standard.
    If we have family obligations that aren’t childcare, but are as time consuming, they’re handled the same way.

    1. Maxie*

      This is helpful for two parent families, but does your company acknowledge that single parenthood exists? If not, this assumption that all parents are partnered is so difficult for single parents. It happens in all arenas, not just work. A homeschool group in my city had an annual curriculum fair. It was in the evening and no children were allowed, with the assumption the kids would stay home with parent 2. I missed a ton of stuff like that, but if an employer based COVID-19 plan assume that all parents have a line in partner, what are single parents supposed to do? Even things like naptime and bedtime are not predictable.

  41. AnOtterMouse*

    I’m not convinced it’s great practice, but I’m really grateful for what my department (technically essential due to the agency, but not actually essential) in a federal agency is doing: looking the other way and providing incredible grace to parents, caregivers, and everyone else in the department. Everyone is working from home except very occasional, essential trips to the office, with social distancing and masking rules. We are still moving our work forward, but at a slower pace and I have not encountered a single person who has criticized anyone’s availability or productivity. I think it’s a product of being healthcare-adjacent and the fact that all of the leadership in our department are parents of kids <18 and/or caregivers of elderly parents.

    At an agency level, arcane rules around technology have advanced at lightning speed and restrictions have been sensibly loosened, making communication and distanced work possible and more productive.

    I feel lucky to have my job, and pleased to be surrounded by sensible folks.

  42. Jules the 3rd*

    My employer’s a big fortune 500 tech co. Anyone can WFH without child care, and managers are asked to be patient. No formal guidance about reducing hours or workload and how that might impact performance reviews, but strong expectation that people not be penalized for being less productive.
    This year, this company, nobody’s getting bonuses and raises will be minimal anyway, so it probably doesn’t matter. If they can keep 90% of their employees *employed*, it’ll be a win.

  43. Ann Perkins*

    I’ve been very fortunate in that I’m not in a hot zone area and our daycare has stayed open, but they’re operating on much less attendance than usual and reduced their hours slightly. My boss has traditionally been very much about butt in seat by 8 am but when I let him know that daycare is only open from 8- 5 for the time being he had zero issue with it and said I wouldn’t even have had to tell him. I have a lot of autonomy in my role and he’s not asking me whether I’m still working 8 hours, which is nice, as sometimes I do grocery shopping over lunch to avoid Saturday traffic, and I’m really only working 8:30 – 4:30. We’re a small organization and there’s only a few of us with small children so there’s been a lot of flexibility, which is nice.

    To improve on though – we have no separate paid sick time bucket and our vacation/PTO isn’t great until you hit at least 5 years. While it hasn’t really been an issue, I think this will be a good example of how it can be helpful to have separate sick time so that people are encouraged to actually stay home if sick. My kids are only 3 and 1 and so I’ve burned through a lot of PTO specifically on sick days for kids and then not been able to take much of vacations over the last few years.

  44. Librarian1*

    I don’t have kids, so I don’t know how people with kids are actually being treated, so I’ll just talk about what they’ve told everyone.
    We happened to switch to 100% telework a few days before a bunch of schools in the area decided to close for a while or to extend their spring breaks and when that happened the messaging coming from the C-suite was that everyone should keep in mind that some people are working with kids so they might not get back to you right away or might be sending things at 11pm instead of during working hours and that we didn’t necessarily need to get back to people right away.

    They also usually require people to have childcare if they work from home, but since all the area schools and many of the area daycare providers are closed, I don’t think they care about that at the moment.

    I don’t know how it’s working out in practice though. Some parts of the organization have been slammed with work related to either COVID in general or to the switch to telecommuting and I don’t know what expectations are for those people when they have to deal with childcare or just dealing with kids schooling from home. They haven’t mentioned anything specific they are doing, but there might be some accommodations being made on a case by case basis.

  45. Vee*

    My spouse and I are working full-time salaried jobs from home with two children (preschool and early elementary) and no outside childcare.
    My company is offering these benefits for all employees:
    – Flexible hours: work whenever you can. Salaried employees do not need to clock actual time in any way.
    – Flexible part-time hours: Part-time employees do not need to clock out for breaks of any kind that are less than 30 minutes. Homework help, lunch prep, walking the neighborhood: all paid.
    – Reduced hours: salary continues at the same level even when time needs to be taken for family responsibilities. This is open to all employees.
    – Voluntary furlough: 4 or 8 weeks of unpaid time off. Some managers are taking advantage of this option. I do wish we had the option for full-time staff to go part-time temporarily. I would happily work 3/4 time for half pay.
    – Flexible location: Employees whose jobs require them to be on-location (e.g., receptionists) are still paid for time they are not able to work due to closure. Many have been temporarily given different work outside of their normal responsibilities that they can still do from home.
    Our day care is located at our office and has not yet reopened or announced when they will do so. My state has been out of lockdown since May 1 but public schools are still closed. Many day cares have reopened but it is nearly impossible to find anything for school-age kids over the summer. I’ve searched everywhere and the only official camps in our area are at two local nonprofits, which can accommodate about 100 kids total.
    Spouse and I have a childcare schedule worked out that gives us each 6 hours/day over six days with additional catch-up in the evenings. We are now including Saturdays as part of our regular work week. This works much better for our family than trying to get in 8 hours every day.

  46. Steph*

    Federal government here. My agency opened up additional work schedules to offer more flexibility – I’m currently on one that is usually only available to the tippy-tops of the org chart that lets me work anytime 24 hours a day. I can break up my work hours throughout the day and work in the evening after core hours when it is easier. We are also getting a set # of admin leave hours per pay period to help mitigate all of the scheduling woes. I’m living in an area that had a fairly strict shelter-in-place order to start, so this was super helpful giving me flexibility to visit the grocery store at a time when there are less people. Now I’m using some of it to cover the times I have to be in class with my son (he is special needs and requires 100% support during his lessons).

    None of this is specific to parents – it is available agency wide.

    1. Student*

      I’m using all my admin hours for my special needs son’s therapy, because you can’t do telehealth with a preschooler unless the parent is right there. Having ten paid hours a week to do my kid’s therapy is probably the only thing keeping me afloat right now, tbh.

  47. Horton F.*

    Mine is doing absolutely nothing- we are a nursing home. We have zero protections and there is a ban on time off requests. They forbid anyone to work from home- even staff who sit and type at a desk all day- and if you have childcare issues, as I do- the answer is to figure it out or don’t work here. You want to work from home? Find a company that will let you work from home. They will not furlough anyone either, and don’t have to give any paid leave as they have exempted themselves from the new mandate. I’ve been forced to put my 10 month old son in a temporary daycare until his other one opens. It’s awful because we arent even allowed inside the school, so i’ve never seen what his room or teachers look like.
    did i mention they are also cutting pay?
    needless to say i’m actively searching for a new job at a company that values their staff.

    1. ThatGirl*

      That’s terrible, I’m so sorry you’re dealing with all of that. There have to be even other nursing homes that would treat their staff much, much better. Good luck.

    2. SweetestCin*

      That is absolutely horrible, and I am so sorry that you’re dealing with unreasonable employers, and their causing of further concerning situations. I am sorry that you’re dealing with any and all of this.

      I wish you sincere luck with your job search!!!!

    3. J.B.*

      I’m so sorry for you, your colleagues, and residents who will all be put at greater risk by these decisions.

  48. Me*

    My work basically offered what is similar to fmla expect it’s so you can use your leave to take care of children and not be penalized while also getting a full paycheck (if you have the leave of course). We have very generous leave benefits – vacation and sick are total separate pots. They’re also being flexible with adjusting working hours and understanding work is harder to get done and may take more time.

    My daughter is college aged so I have no use for it but when she was little it would have been a life saver as a single parent.

    My employer doesn’t get a gold start for salary but they do try to make up for it as much as possible with benefits.

  49. Katrinka*

    I work at a secondary school. The biggest thing our district is doing is to be flexible for our employees who are parents and are dealing with not only their own classes but also supervising their own kids’ learning. Especially if they have to share devices/internet time. Normally, we require employees to be available during specific hours and they have to take PTO if they aren’t able to be online for a chunk of that time. If they have kids who have to be online at specific times for online classes and they need to share a device and/or supervise during that time, we are not requiring them to take that time off. This has been especially helpful for our support staff, who are required to be “available” 8:00-3:00 (teachers only have to be online during their “office hours” for students/parents to email). We have also been able to provide devices to any staff that needs one during our time out of buildings.

  50. Ace in the hole*

    We’re not doing anything special for parents except for allowing them to take leave if they don’t have childcare. They have to used paid time off if they have any saved, or can take the leave unpaid if they run out of PTO. In our line of work, waste disposal, working from home or on flex hours is not physically possible. Similarly we can’t allow people to bring their kids to work since it’s way too dangerous to have a kid on site. We have rearranged schedules to accommodate childcare issues as much as possible though.

    We haven’t offered any extra paid time off so far, although we’re considering it. As a public agency everything has to pass through about 10 layers of bureaucracy before we can make a major policy change like that. Our normal leave policy is very generous by U.S. standards… starts at 38 paid days off per year (goes up with seniority), and you can accrue unlimited amounts if you don’t take all of it in one year. We have a lot of employees with literally months of banked PTO, some with years worth. I think that goes a long way to help parents… and other employees with personal needs!

    1. Mockingjay*

      Does your agency permit leave donations? Most agencies have some sort of leave program for special circumstances. Maybe the qualifiers could be expanded to include caregiving?

      1. Ace in the hole*

        Unfortunately no, that’s another thing we’re working on. But the wheels of bureaucracy turn slowly….

  51. Tema*

    I’m in the NYC area. My work is mostly just being realistic about workloads and meetings. There is zero expectation that anyone, but especially those with children, can work to their normal standards, and a “do the best you can mentality” is the dominant one. I schedule all my meetings during nap time, and people are good about working around that. Also, as we started to switch to remote work, and as we start to plan coming back to work, people living with high risk people (or who high risk themselves), and people who do not have child care were allowed to work remote firs, and they’ll be the last to come back unless childcare is in place.

  52. NW Mossy*

    My company isn’t directly focusing on parents, but they have added policies for all staff that can be of particular benefit to parents. The most obvious is the additional “pandemic leave” PTO that can be taken in smaller increments (as little as 2 hours for non-exempts) to deal with childcare issues as well as direct impact from COVID-19.

    I’ve got two at home (4 and 9), and here’s what I would love to see more in general regardless of caregiving responsibilities:

    * If you need something from someone, think about ways that you can make it a quick hit for that person. Be clear about what you need, by when, and what will happen if the person isn’t able to respond by then. Don’t just forward a 20-deep email string with “please advise.” If you make it easy for me to understand your request, it’s much more likely to get fulfilled.
    * As in the letter yesterday, lead with grace and the benefit of the doubt. When we’re all more isolated than usual, it makes it way too easy for our brains to spin out and start ascribing malice to peoples’ behavior when none was meant or intended. Be kind, and you’ll be surprised at the extent to which others will notice and reward that kindness by trying to meet you halfway.
    * We should always be doing this, but meetings should be carefully curated now more than ever. Invite lists, agendas, preps/takeaways, and all that stuff should be thought out in advance. With people having to blend work and personal time more than ever now, show respect for the time you’re asking for and make the meeting as productive and useful as possible.

  53. Bex*

    My company, starting with the CEO and going down all the ways to my supervisor, has made it clear that things are Not Normal right now.

    Even tho the business doesn’t usually have core hours, work has been done to identify with different teams when schedules would be best, and there is a lot of time flexing. We’re being encouraged to still bill for a full week of work even if we don’t meet the hours threshold, because we’re doing what we can.

    Additionally, my company (which has a LOT of knowledge re: chemistry and geology, and many PhD holders working here) has found leaders within some departments who are doing weekly “ask a scientist/geologist/mathematician” sessions to help kids. We write in with questions and problems we don’t know how to solve or answer, they’ll read them on a video chat session and go through step by step how to solve it, explaining along the way. This is ridiculously great for me because my chemistry knowledge is awful – the only class I came close to flunking – and of course the kid is in chemistry!!

    It might seem like a small thing, but seeing the company leverage its knowledge and resources like that is pretty cool.

  54. Overwhelmed*

    I’m struggling working from home with 3 children under 5 and my teams (with a couple of notable exceptions of bored folks setting up status meetings and deadlines for projects 3-6 months away to look busy) commiserate and understand. But really wish that more workplaces that could really telework would (by improving technology or just attitude about telework) because then my husband could be home helping.

  55. Public Sector Manager*

    I work for a government agency that is begrudgingly allowing work from home during the pandemic. Myself and all the people on my team can absolutely work remotely, but I work for a “butts in the seats” type of agency who can’t wait to make people come back into the office. So my employer gets demerits for passive aggressive messaging about getting back into the office and being tone deaf about our concerns of physically reporting to work.

    My employer has been really bad about insisting on the same level of output as I would have in the office. My son’s school went to distance learning really quickly, and trying to get anything done while he’s doing school work is near impossible. My wife has been battling major depression and anxiety for about 6 years now, and trying to be a good dad to our son and work 40+ hours a week and look after my wife when she needs it is just too much. I wish my employer would give us half days once in a while just so I can get a break. I’ve tried taking a day or two off but the work just piles up and when I’m off work, my wife will just stay in bed all day leaving me to run the house, so it really isn’t a day off. A half day mental break would be nice.

    About half the people in our office are looking for jobs at different government agencies were they have a better work from home policy and agencies were they understand working from home is still working.

  56. You're Not My Supervisor!*

    I work for a non-profit org, and in general they have been incredibly flexible and accommodating! At the beginning all staff were given 2 weeks of “COVID” pay to use if they got sick or were caring for someone sick, but parents can use it as well to care for kids who are out of school or no longer have daycare available. We are considered an essential org because we provide meals and other essential resources to the community, so there are staff who are onsite, but for those of us who are not part of that programming are WFH until further notice, and we rotate shifts to support onsite staff with meal service.

    I’ve been offered flexible hours and management has been very understanding– some of my coworkers have told me that seeing my toddler on our Teams calls is the highlight of their day, so I don’t feel bad about having to parent while working! I’ve also seen other babies/children on larger org calls, so the environment right now is very child-friendly. Onsite workers are also offered paid time off to take care of children if their regular care falls through, so they don’t have to worry about being able to pay rent just because schools an daycares are closed.

    1. You're Not My Supervisor!*

      Just wanted to add– I’m talking about policies that impact parents, but they’re not actually specific to parents. For instance we have quite a few staff who are at high risk for COVID, and I know some are likely using paid time off so they don’t have to come in and potentially be exposed. I think our org is trying to be as flexible and accommodating as they can for everyone, because of course this crisis impacts all of us!

  57. Cassiopeia*

    As a parent of a 2 year old whose partner is essential, so I’m home alone with her trying to work all day every day, I wish more of my coworkers would text me before they call. I can’t possibly sit at my computer all day right now, but with a few min advance notice, I can better distract my kid and give the work call my full attention (and have whatever materials I may need for easy reference).

  58. Kiki*

    Even more flexible hours, significantly reduced workload where possible, and a reduction of unnecessary meetings paired with more initiative taken to record meetings for those who can’t be present. I’m not a parent, so I can’t say if this is enough for everyone’s situation, but it seems to be working pretty well for the coworkers I know with children.

    I had a few emergency projects pop up that were a lot for me as a person without any children, luckily only one person on those emergency projects had kids and he was the highest-ranking engineer, so he had a lot of say with regards to how much he could participate. I don’t know what would have happened if more people on the project had children– it was a time crunch situation.

  59. Anon not US based, Academia*

    I’m not in the US and I work in academia. Our president on down to department heads have all sent out communications about how everyone needs to readjust expectations because people will not be able to accomplish as much from home as normal. There’s been formal acknowledgement that parents are working with kids at home and how challenging that is.

    In my department the focus is on deliverables and what actually needs to get done rather than the nice to haves. People flex their hours as needed. Some people work afternoons or mornings or off and on. I’ve been working weekends as needed because I need to meet deliverable dates but I have youngish school aged kids at home and a partner who is physically going into work as essential. I’ve noticed a lot of grace in terms of expectations and an acknowledgement that this is all hard for all of us regardless of our situation.

    Nothing has been decided but I suspect I will be working from home until September or maybe even January – hopefully not with kids that whole time or I might lose my mind.

  60. Third or Nothing!*

    My organization is typically very anti-WFH, but they’ve created a temporary WFH policy for everyone who can’t come into the office for whatever reason. It started out with an end date of April 30 but they extended it to May 31.

    I’ve been working from my kitchen table while caring for a feisty little toddler for 2 months now.

  61. Chronic Lurker*

    My company agreed — with surprisingly little prompting from the union — to give everyone unlimited time off for COVID-related issues, and includes childcare in that (along with having COVID-19 symptoms or caring for a relative who does). I don’t have kids myself, but my co-workers who do say that managers have been good about approving days and half days off for parents under this policy.

    1. Stella*

      This seems like the best policy to me. Right now, everyone is acutely aware that layoffs could happen at any time, so people are unlikely to abuse something like this. And it also leaves room for things like “I have a medical condition that makes working right now very hard for me but I don’t want to disclose it because it sometimes affects my work a little under normal circumstances and I prefer to continue to let that fly below the radar.” It seems like people are forced to sacrifice some of their boundaries and privacy and this is a nice way to do that and also prevents anyone from becoming resentful. And if anyone slips too far behind, it can be handled individually, but the default can be to figure people are doing the best they can

  62. Kimmybear*

    My company has said up to 2 hours a day paid leave for anyone with dependent care needs (childcare, eldercare, etc.) Also, leadership has said we’re not going back into the office until at least the end of July. Knowing a timeline makes it easier for everyone to plan. In my department, kids are welcomed on calls whether it’s little ones jumping on the couch or big ones melting down about missed graduations. We’ve also gotten the unofficial impression that no one is going to be forced back into the office anytime soon. Since fall school is still up in the air, that gives a little relieve for those of us juggling little ones that this may continue to be the normal.

  63. Lucette Kensack*

    My organization has announced that it will not start asking employees who are currently working from home to come back to the office until schools re-open.

  64. VelociraptorAttack*

    Honestly, my company has been fantastic. My department in particular has been work from home since mid-March, other departments have been work from home for everyone who is able to since our state put a stay-home order in effect. I have a toddler under 2 and they’ve offered a lot of flexibility, understanding that I’m not as immediately responsive and he takes a lot of my attention, and then they gave me two weeks of PTO that didn’t come out of my leave at the end of April/beginning of May when it was clear I was starting to burn out.

    Half of my department has kids but mine is by far the youngest (the others are 9-10) but these benefits aren’t just extended to me. Each member of our department has been heavily encouraged/forced to take at least a week of PTO that doesn’t come out of our accrued time in addition to all of the previously mentioned flexibility regarding responsiveness and work hours. I’ve been very, very impressed with their response and recognize how lucky I am.

    1. KristineA*

      I love the specific measure of a week of PTO that doesn’t come out of accrued time. Something like that can make a huge different to employees, without everyone scrambling on their own to figure out what it is ok to ask for.

  65. AthenaC*

    Our company is 100% work-from-home, and honestly the best thing they are doing is just asking for more communication so we can adjust expectations and as a group just be more flexible. It’s not always the parents that need accommodations; in our group, probably the person that needs the most flexibility lives with parents and is from a traditional culture, so they are burdened with lots of parental expectations.

  66. YouGottaThrowtheWholeJobAway*

    Any decent company right now has measures in place for all care-taking and health responsibilities, so if you actually need accommodations, ask your HR rep and your manager! Other peoples’ kids are NOT “problems”, they are an integral part of society and part of being human. I don’t have children, but I see my teammates as human beings and recognize that it’s basically impossible to keep the same schedule expectations without school or daycare or a live-in babysitter. The work environment for parents right now is at a much higher difficulty setting than for childless people, all other circumstances aside. Bobby’s nap is a good time to meet without major interruptions — would you also complain if there was a child present in the background or on someone’s lap playing on calls? Children aren’t dogs, you can’t put them in a crate.

    1. YouGottaThrowtheWholeJobAway*

      Hm my comment was in response to one that seems to no longer exist…

  67. InfoSec SemiPro*

    We had training for all management that for right now, when a staff member comes to you and needs something (flexibility, lower hours, leave of absence, etc) the answer is “Thank you for your work, please take care of yourself and your family, and do what you can for the company.” this isn’t just for children, some people are caring for dying parents, some people are dealing with their own health, etc etc. These are hard times, and the company is taking the productivity hit to take care of our staff. I’m working roughly half time, splitting child care with my spouse.

    However, I work in one of the few industries that is doing fiiiiine from this – we can sell everything we can make, we’re going to come out of this with better financials than we went in, and the vast, vast majority of our staff can work from home… basically indefinitely as far as the company is concerned. So we can be really generous with our staff without denting the company.

  68. extra anonymous for this*

    In the company I work for, we routinely have to distinguish time we spend that can be billed to customers from any other time worked, and we’re measured on how much billable time we have. Our company has instituted a special new code we can charge time to if we have to take time off from work to handle child-raising responsibilities (for *any* aged child) and that time does not count against us from a billable hours perspective nor does it decrement from our paid time off. It’s as flexible as we need it to be and technically can be used for other stay-home/covid related situations but the most common one is child care related needs.

    We also have as one of our benefits, a care-based service that you can call when you need unexpected care coverage (kids, elder care, etc) and it’s probably one of our lesser-known benefits but our company has been promoting it heavily.

    We’ve been able to work from home for about 2.5 months now, and we’re getting a high level of support managing that. I’ve heard our execs recently say they’re worried that people are working too many hours and they’re reaching out to check in on us and make sure we’re not getting burned out — and offering assistance / support if we need to reset expectations with our leads or customers. Overall, I’ve been really impressed with the response.

  69. Two Littles and a Remote Job*

    I have been really lucky on this front. I was already a remote worker when the stay at home orders started so was set up for remote work. What was different is that I have two small children (under the age of 3, one of which is an infant) who are no longer at daycare during the day. There are two specific things that stand out to me.

    1. Our Chief of Staff who covers our HR items (we’re a very small company) reached out to me directly about the Families First Coronavirus Act and made sure she understood the options. She proactively discussed them with me to talk about what options would make the most sense with my workload and my husband’s job and encouraged me to take advantage of this. She acknowledged to me that she understood that accomplishing 8 hours a day of solid work with kids at home might not be tenable and was proactive in finding solutions that made sense for the company, but most importantly for my family. I can’t even begin to say how appreciative I was that she made it a point to be knowledgeable about this and to discuss it with me. We have a weekly check in together and during that conversation we discuss if the arrangements we have in place are still working or if adjustments are needed as the stay at home orders progress.

    2. This is a bit more vague, but everyone in the company has been very deliberate in asking about each other’s kids/families. We are in a few different states so are each experiencing similar, but still slightly different restrictions. Nearly all of us are parents and taking a moment at the beginning of meetings (or in the first contact we have with each other during the day) to just kindly inquire how everyone is doing has been helpful to know we all feel seen and heard. It’s not compulsory to give any details, but generally we’ve all been happy to say “hey today’s hard” or “everyone’s doing great”.

  70. Sarah*

    I have a young toddler (he will be 2 in August) and my work has been *not great*. Neither has my husband’s. I wish:

    – There were fewer last-minute meetings/meetings that run 30min plus over (an issue for both of us but mostly my husband).
    – There was less snarking when kids are on camera. My boss frequently Slacks me about how annoying people’s kids are on video (we’re required to be on video).
    – A bit more understanding re: workloads. My work has picked up because of COVID-19 and my husband is just in his standard busy season.

    At the very beginning of the pandemic, my workplace sent no less than 3 emails in one week stating that parents could not work while their children were present and that if they were unable to find childcare then they were *required* to take PTO. They nixed that after a few weeks and some pressure from parents.

    I will say that both of our workplaces are generally pro WFH and have very flexible hours standard. But I work with a lot of other people very closely so I do need to be available to answer questions, collaborate, etc. I could not do all of my work after my son went to bed for instance.

    My son has been a peach and is totally into independent play but he’s still … a toddler. So glad he takes a reliable 2 hour nap.

  71. BridgeNerdess*

    Anyone else seeing a disparity in the published policies and the cultural expectations? We say we’re flexible and have made accommodations, but the people without kids seem to have no patience or realistic expectations.

    Example 1: Non-mandatory training was offered on a design software. It was 6 weeks of training (that started late March, right when it was complete chaos), two lunch hours per week, with self-study of 4-5 hours a week to keep up with the class. None was paid (hence not mandatory). So 6-7 unpaid hours a week for 6 weeks, on top of expected billable work. When we didn’t have 100% participation, our chief engineer announced multiple times on weekly check-ins that he was disappointed with the lack of participation and people were hurting their own careers by opting out. Most of the other parents I talked to opted out (including me) because we were working 40-50 hours of billable work already and couldn’t fit in the donated time while also trying to manage kids/home school and maintain our sanity.

    Example 2: a direct report was over-booked between my job and 2 others. When I talked to the other PM (who has no kids) and said I was more concerned with “Joe’s” stress level and I could be flexible on my staffing needs, she looked at me like I had two heads. “He should be able to manage both” was her reply. Joe has 2 kids under the age of 5, the younger of the two has on-going health issues and is considered high-risk. He’s a great co-worker and I’m trying to give him as much flexibility as possible.

    So our official policies are just fine. But there is very little compassion for those of us with kids. Most of my teams are great and laugh when my kiddo interrupts with an emergency involving his construction equipment or a math problem. But it’s demoralizing to hear people in leadership positions repeatedly say we’re not doing enough if we draw boundaries and opt out of unpaid training or need more flexibility.

    1. extra anonymous for this*

      That’s terrible. I’m really sorry. I’m seeing a shift in the opposite direction. Culturally, prior covid, there wasn’t a lot of tolerance for WFH (even though it was supposedly fine), and any noises from pets, kids, etc., resulted in some consternation.

      Now no one seems to mind when kids interrupt meetings. And many of us have introduced our toddlers, pets and other family to our teams when we’re on video conferences. I’m really hoping this attitude persists long after we’ve gone back to offices.

    2. J.B.*

      I know my husband has gotten some very poor work in for review and I think the engineering consulting culture is… not helpful.

  72. Anonymous Poster*

    My very large organization is giving up to 10 hours every week to parents to care for children due to COVID-19 related causes, and is pretty broadly interpreting what those impacts may be. It’s very helpful for us that I can take 10 hours a week to help care for our infant since my wife tends to do the grocery shopping, and she gets a bit of a break. They’re also very understanding of any potential impacts to our work because of having to work remotely with children in the house.

  73. Running on coffee*

    First of all, I have some really uncharitable thoughts toward people who claim that parents are getting all this support right now. Baloney. We’re drowning.

    OK: What my company is doing well is providing admin leave time (separate from sick/vacation time) for all employees. You can use it for covering child care responsibilities, taking care of yourself if you get COVID, taking care of immediate family with COVID, and a few other things. I haven’t fully taken advantage of this, mainly because I have no clue how long it’s going to last. But I like knowing that it’s there, and I have dipped into it when I have a really unproductive week because kids have been underfoot.

    1. Pandemic Parenting is Miserable*

      Amen. My small company is wonderful, but it’s mostly only because our business has collapsed so we have much less work. My partner is essential working 12 hr shifts out of the home, my pre-schooler doesn’t nap and the only way I can work is if she’s watching TV. TV which still requires a lot of intervention bc she mutes it or shuts it off or whines to change the show or wants to skip ads. (We were a low screentime family prior to this so she’s watching on an old laptop.) Any day I have to work more 3-4 hours is a freaking horrorshow. Hours of TV have a horrible impact on her behavior and thus all my waking hours are honestly miserable. I’m pregnant and very tired, so can’t really work all night, plus much of our work does need to be done during business hours. Really the only thing companies can do is offer paid leave or majorly reduced workloads.

  74. mh_ccl*

    I’m not sure if my company is doing anything other than being extraordinarily flexible about schedules. I work for a large engineering company, and pretty much everyone is working from home. When this is over, people will be able to continue working from home if they choose. For now, as long as you’re getting our work done and not missing any deadlines, they don’t seem to care *when* you get the work done.
    I’m a part-time employee (I can work up to or over 40 hours a week, but am only required to do 20 hours under normal circumstances), and I have the extra challenges of a K and preK kid at home, a husband who is deployed, and needing to prep to move across country in 44 days. My supervisors know about all of this, and I’ve been taking on less and less work as things get busier. Everyone who reaches out for help is usually aware and lets me know that they’re checking with me because I’m their #1 choice, and it’s no problem if I can’t fit it in and they’re willing to find someone else if needed.
    While I can’t say I don’t feel uneasy about everything, I do feel relatively secure in my job. They’re very accommodating and I get really great feedback, which helps with my impostor syndrome.

  75. (insert name here)*

    My management has always been results based, open to work from home, and have not ever had a specific requirement that parents working from home must have childcare.

    When school was canceled they just told us to go home and work form home, which we were mostly already set up to do. They let the parents lead the way on what they needed and have been understanding that in times like these there may be some loss of productivity while people juggle.

    The only request I’ve gotten was to update my online status when possible if I’m away from work. So I have the kids class meetings on my calendar and no one schedules meetings anywhere near those. They also don’t schedule last minute meetings for the most part and have been apologetic the one or two times that needed to happen.

    I mean, it’s not some big thing, they just treat us like adults who know how to handle our stuff.

  76. Sarra*

    Nothing, really.

    I mean, they say “we know it’s hard, do you need to change your hours? [blah blah blah flexibility blah blah]” but there’s still 110% expectation that all the work will get done (and we even laid off 1/3 of our workforce, so the workload is even bigger per person). So I end up working after the kid’s in bed, getting up early, etc. it’s not sustainable.

    And then they send out email to the parents periodically asking how things are going. And they set up a Teams channel for parents to talk. I think the last post on that channel was about 2 weeks ago. We’re all drowning.

    1. Sarra*

      More info: small company, currently ~18 employees in my office. we’ve all been WFH since mid-march, with no current plans to go back in. three of us have children in my office – one has a 13 and 18 year old, I have a special-needs almost-13-year-old, and one has a 2-year-old (who is in daycare, because his wife is considered an essential worker – daycares are only open for kids of essential workers right now). There’s more with kids across the other offices, but I don’t know much about what’s going on in those locations.

    2. Exhausted Trope*

      OMG! I feel badly about your situation. Truly untenable, but at the very least the company showed how much (little) it cares about employees.
      I am so sorry. Your company sucks.

      1. Sarra*

        Thanks. My immediate supervisor is FANTASTIC – she’s taken on more work and isn’t holding anything against me, and is even pushing back on upper management when they want to put me on more projects. She’s an amazing bright spot in this whole sh*tshow.

  77. Rockin Takin*

    When we moved our shifts to spread them out, we tried to ensure that folks w kids were able to work a shift that they can get childcare with (essential staff, still going to the site). One woman has an issue with childcare and has to leave her shift a half hour early, we just shore up her time with emergency pay so she still gets her full 8hrs.

  78. Girl Alex PR*

    I work for a federal agency in DC, and have been surprised by just how wonderful our leadership have been. There’s been virtual town halls assuring workers that we will not be coming back to the office until it’s actually advisable to do so (they’re estimating August at the earliest right now). We went to full telework long before many other organizations (early March). We are encouraged to flex hours, bring kids to meetings, etc. And as the social media director, I created a virtual campaign for Take Work to Our Kids Week to replace our normal, amazing on-site event! We’ve been sharing games, videos from leadership, and more all week to help entertain and teach kiddos at home. Parents have been submitting photos of them working with their human and fur children for us to share as well.

  79. Miriam*

    We are allowed to work as able, and claim the rest of our hours through FFCRA. Which is the way it should be working everywhere, but it makes a huge difference to feel truly supported in doing that. I work what I am able, and don’t stress about not being able to work more. Expectations of productivity are out the window, both in terms of hours worked and efficiency during those hours.

    This is one of those times where I appreciate being hourly instead of on salary. Exempt workers also are able to work fewer hour hours, but I personally think that I’d feel higher expectations to be getting more done anyway. Now I just clock the hours I’m working, and that’s that. If I lose my job or am furloughed I have complete confidence it will be because of institutional needs, not because I’m underperforming right now. But I also think that this is the kind of thing where your employer had to have an established history of being truly flexible and family friendly, otherwise how would you trust that what they say now is what they actually mean when it comes to flexibility around working less to take care of / teach your kids? I feel really lucky to be able to trust my employer with this, and know that they trust me.

  80. Kate*

    My management has been pretty great about all of this so far:

    – timelines are way scaled back and the higher ups are clear that they know the same amount of work is just going to take longer.

    -There are some unofficial core hours, but otherwise, it’s up to you to figure out how to get a work day in (I do one block of work before my daughter wake sup, a bunch after she has gone down for the night, and just listen in to meetings/monitor my phone throughout the day).

    -They provided me with extra equipment to be able to work from home, like a work laptop and earphones. I wouldn’t normally have access to those at home, just my phone.

    -work calls are video-optional, and there has never been any pressure to dial in on video. Very useful for when my kid plonks herself on my lap and refuses to move.

    The one thing I wish we did differently is that as restrictions are loosening up, I’d appreciate some clarity on what I am expected to do once work goes back to normal but childcare doesn’t. Like, what are my options? Will expectations remain different for me while they go back to normal for my colleagues? How will that impact their workload and my evaluation? Questions like that.

  81. Skeeder Jones*

    I work for a fairly large healthcare organization that is all-inclusive (meaning we do everything from staffing hospitals and medical centers, labs, pharmacy, member services and all the infrastructure needed to provide health insurance and healthcare delivery. Recently our company began offering a resource call center to help families find child care and also offering a weekly stipend to help cover the cost of childcare for those workers who are required to be onsite at a medical center or administrative facility. For those parents who are telecommuting, the overall message is that the company knows that parents are dealing with extra stress and are being pulled in a million directions and that they should just do their best to balance that and to reach out if they need help.

  82. KristineA*

    I work for a large corporation; the vast majority of our workforce are frontline employees that are furloughed. I am on the corporate side, with a position that relates to revenue growth.

    WFH has always been an option, with some flexibiltiy as long as client demands are being met. That continues to be the case.

    Surprisingly, and disappointingly, the companys has put nothing forth about options or expectations for employees who also now have full-time caregiving roles at home, beyond pledging “flexibility.” It’s very much manager-by-manager, What that means is that we have the “flexibility” to work into the wee hours of the night to keep things on pace for clients, as our attention during the day is pulled in so many directions.

    What I would love to see:
    * Clear direction on priorities/projects that can be stopped and removed from our plates
    *Clear direction on how leave and PTO plans can and can’t be used for family priorities
    * Specific schedule (and work) reduction arrangements that the company would support, so we aren’t all twisting in the wind, even if unpaid.

  83. Admiral Thrawn is Still Blue*

    I’m not a parent, but my company has been mostly working from home since mid March. Florida is opening now, somewhat, but no word from on high yet. I think they aren’t really considering bringing people back for awhile, largely due to childcare issues. As far as I know, the work is getting done, so …. I say leave people where they are.

  84. Ruby*

    We’ve been all working from home so far, so it’s been ok. However, they are starting to call people back to the office, and when we’ve asked about child care, we’re being told it’s a “personal problem.” This is one of the largest employers in the country (so I’m not eligible for leave).

  85. QuietRiot*

    My office is operating under the assumption that no one may be as productive at home as they were in the office given our jobs do not normally utilize WFH (except for, say a day a month, for the non-administrative staff). That said, we have taken great pains to transition as much of our in-person work to get done from home (fortunately), and also offer a great deal of flexibility as to when people can put their hours in. For example, if you can only be on the clock for 6 hours a day, M-F, you can work the remaining hours on Saturday and/or Sunday. Alternatively, you can flex your schedule in order to take periodic breaks during the day – starting earlier, ending later, etc. I think my team and the office as a whole feels pretty supported.

  86. Unknown for Today*

    I wish my company were doing something, anything, to support parents. I am not a parent but many of my colleagues are. Not a single initiative supporting parents with school-aged children has been offered. I don’t know why but it’s disturbing. WFH for many positions was mandated but beyond that, nothing. Sad.

  87. WoodswomanWrites*

    My nonprofit has been outstanding. Even though I’m not a parent myself, it’s been strongly messaged throughout the organization that we all need to support those who are. Our CEO has repeatedly assured everyone to reach out to HR and their managers if they need flexibility or guidance. As soon as federal legislation was passed to provide paid time, our HR team let everyone know across the organization, not just those who are parents. As government implementation rules evolved, our HR team has continued to update everyone.

    Parents have the freedom to work whatever hours work for them, and we’re all aware and accepting that projects may take longer. I think this reflects our organizational commitment to work-life balance that was a core part of our culture even before the pandemic. I feel fortunate to be part of such a compassionate organizations.

  88. AnonPi*

    Yeah all mine has done is “allowed people to work from home” who normally aren’t allowed to (ie hourly staff) and we should be grateful for it because they’re *gasp* trusting us underlings to not just cheat on our time and spend all day drinking cocktails and binge watching tv. Otherwise we’re expected to work as usually – no flexibility in shifts, no paid administrative leave, etc etc. Only option is to take vacation if you need it, or extenuating circumstances your manager may let you take off a few hours and make it up during the week, but they don’t really like that (it means we’re not professional enough to stick with a work schedule *facepalm*). yay government bureaucracy. The good thing I guess is my manager is a bit more realistic (having kids theirself) and doesn’t try to put their thumb on us all day long to make sure we’re working every minute of the day. But we do have to report what we do all day every day, and they do check that and can question us if they don’t think we did 8 hours worth of work.

    What I wish they would do is just be a bit more realistic for everyone, kids or no kids, about work expectations right now. Or like me I don’t have kids but I have a parent to care for and that takes up time too. Acting like we’re all just trying to take advantage of the situation and 20 questioning us all the time just adds to the stress. If I thought I could reliably get unemployment (people in my area are still waiting weeks w/ no unemployment check), I’d rather they just furlough me until they bring us back on site than deal with the craziness.

  89. Sled dog mama*

    My actual employer has taken the approach of WFH as much as possible, and we don’t care how you arrange your hours or how few/many you work as long as it gets done (in fairness we’re in a part of healthcare where our workload has not changed at all due to COVID).
    The clinic I work in and direct supervisor there has been supportive of flexing hours as needed as long as the regulatory requirements are fulfilled. Unfortunately we fell victim to a computer virus at the end of March (oh the irony) and are getting close to back to before but we still don’t have remote access so no working from home. If that was restored it would be amazing.

  90. blackcat*

    Folks I work with are amazing in being super flexible and knowing they have my attention each day 6am-7:30am, 1-3pm (naptime), 8:30-10pm (after kid is asleep), and then somewhat random other bits of time. All of my meetings are in that 1-3pm block. I’m the only one with a young kid, and I’m so appreciative they’re understanding.

    My husband is allowed to work any 45 hours in Sunday-Saturday time period, save meetings, but there’s been no flexibility on the volume of work. They’ve announced they’re going to furlough people soon, and he’s ASKED to be furloughed (we could swing it with savings and unemployment for quite a while) and been told that’s not an option. He’s asked to drop to 80 or 75%. No dice. He’s almost out of PTO, and I frankly think they’re setting it up to fire him once he runs out of PTO rather than furlough. Everyone with young kids is super demoralized and unhappy, and so much would be fixed if folks would be allowed to reduce hours (even with reduced pay). We’re going to have a sitter start next week for ~20 hours a week because we just can’t keep going like this…

    We’re lucky that the kid still naps (and does so on a reliable schedule), but he’s young enough that even TV can’t occupy him. He needs CONSTANT supervision. So a sitter it is….

    1. blackcat*

      Also, FWIW, folks at his job do have to go in sometimes, and my husband is in the office 1 day/week. We’re in a hard hit area and his office has shut down for cleaning FIVE TIMES when someone there has been diagnosed, so you’d think they’d be more understanding. But NOPE. They’re a big corporation, so none of the new family leave applies. If you’re out of PTO, you have to take regular unpaid FMLA if you get sick with COVID. The only good thing is that people can WFH most of the time.

  91. Buttons*

    We are an incredibly flexible company unless someone is client support or client-facing we can work whenever we want. I asked everyone on my team what would work for them, I don’t have kids, so I will be flexible. If they want to have their weekly 1:1 with me at 8 PM when the kids go to bed, that is fine. As long as work gets done, it doesn’t matter to me when they do it.
    In the first few weeks, I noticed a drop in production, but that was more than expected. I can’t imagine how anyone is able to get anything done while trying to help their kids with school work, or worse the little ones who are used to being a daycare or preschool and can’t be left to entertain themselves. I know I feel stressed, but they have to manage stress and care for little humans. I also have no problem if there is a child visible on the webcam or I hear the baby cry while we are on the phone.
    I want to support them in their work, which has meant I have taken on a few of assignments that I would normally delegate, I didn’t want to add to their workload.

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      You are an awesome manager and your team is fortunate to work with you.

  92. Pink Marshmallow Bunny*

    I’m slightly disappointed but not surprised by the way my organization is handling things.

    Although we are all teleworking, which I’m really glad about, there has been no talk of “do what you can” or “it’s okay to not be at your normal level of productivity during this time,” and I truly think there should have been.

    Senior leadership basically acts like it’s business as usual, despite the fact that nothing is really “usual” during this time.

    I’ve noticed that my manager has been flexible with parents, allowing them to modify their hours. But it seems like everyone is still expected to work their full amount of hours, and that things like taking a longer lunch break to grocery shop just aren’t done. Also, my manager tends to be more flexible than other managers in the company, and I suspect that other departments are getting much less flexibility and are being micromanaged more, since they tend to be inflexible and very micromanage-y during normal times.

    I wish there was more flexibility. I think if we asked, maybe there would be, but I feel like maybe we shouldn’t have to ask. I feel like if the company truly cared about their employees, they’d state that they want to be flexible and helpful, and encourage employees to talk to their managers about what would work for them.

    In my department, I notice coworkers starting earlier, signing off later, and not taking lunch breaks. There isn’t a true business need for this (workload hasn’t increased), and since nobody has specifically asked us to do this, I have been signing on at my normal time, taking a lunch break, and working late only if the need arises. I get my work done well and meet my deadlines and don’t want to get into the habit of being too available when it isn’t truly necessary. Plus, I see my manager handling it the same way as I am. I just wish that she or other leadership would tell us “don’t feel like you have to be ‘always on’ now that you’re working at home,” since I think some employees may not be getting that message and aren’t as good at time and work/life boundaries.

    I just wish my company handled all of this in a more human way and less corporate way. They’re not exactly doing anything wrong, but there’s so much more they could be doing right—and they aren’t.

  93. drhoney*

    My organization has given us multiple flexibilities, some available to all, some available to those impacted by COVID-19 (includes parents). We’re all: approved for 100% telework, you can work any hours between 5 am -12 am, and our work week has been extended to include Saturday (if you need/want to get your hours on a non-weekday). For those impacted by COVID-19 (e.g., parents with kids who need to provide care to children) full-time employees are authorized to use up to 20 hours of administrative leave every 2 weeks.

  94. Lynn*

    My company was already at WFH for almost everyone to start with. So that hasn’t been a huge shock, except to those few who were still choosing to be in the office every day.

    What they keep saying is that they understand that things are difficult. And we have always had a lot of scheduling flexibility. For much of the company history, the bulk of employees were traveling-so allowances have always been made to account for travel-and managers have never been on-site, so the company is used to folks having a good amount of autonomy.

    However, the actual expectation of what you are going to get done has not changed, even when our clients are cutting back and not providing their part of the work. And there has been no talk about possible hours reduction either. I don’t see us, as a company, doing anything that wasn’t already in place to help either parents or non-parents. But at least we aren’t stuck at the “everyone has to be on their computers from 8 – 5 every day, so mote it be” stage. So, I’d call the glass half full.

  95. agnes*

    We have suspended any core hour requirements and are just asking people to do the best they can. We have made it clear to managers that employee productivity might suffer and people need some grace. So far everyone has continued to get the important work done and been willing to pitch in and help other people. I really appreciate how our organization has pulled together and is making the best of a difficult situation.

  96. Junior High Teacher*

    I’m a teacher, and since we’re all in our classrooms, teachers are allowed to come into the school to work. I love this, since I work much better from my office than from home. I asked my principal if I could bring my kids in with me, and she said yes immediately. I think our district had already anticipated this need. Every day my three elementary-aged kids and I come to the junior high to do our work/schoolwork. It’s been great.

  97. SeekYou*

    What my company is doing well for parents:
    1. Everyone got an additional 2 weeks of paid time off during quarantine and can use it in 2 hour increments whether it is sick time, caring for children, taking extra family time, mental health & wellbeing, etc.
    2. Everyone received a “Spring Break” during April that coincided with the local school district’s Spring Break. No one was expected to work during that time which eased the pressure of not keeping up with missed meetings or emails when taking off personal time.
    3. When appropriate, children and families are welcome and encouraged to make appearances on team calls, and we’ve even had some fun games to include kiddos. Honestly, it has been refreshing to “get to know” some of my colleagues kiddos and see their sweet faces. My favorite is when kiddos say Hi to each other on the calls. Gives me joy!
    4. Our CEO sent out an updated list of company wide priorities which put people first. It helps to know that we are all doing our part, and our people are important all the way through the organization.
    5. HR changed launched a simplified end of year performance evaluation that will separate our merit increase from performance.

    What I wish they were doing:
    I wish they would reestablish expectations for workload, and potentially spread around the duties to people who are willing to do more (voluntarily). I don’t think it is fair for parents to be held to an 8 hour plus work day and same expectations of duties when we were “open for business.” Parents are balancing work, family, childcare of all ages, special needs care, meals, household chores, homeschooling, and so much more. It is ridiculous to expect the same amount of output. Without clear expectations, folks are left to worry about not doing enough, anxious about losing their job because they aren’t performing at the expected standard.

  98. Rare commenter*

    We are considered an essential business in our area. We have a few parents that were not able to find child care and needed a shorter schedule (were able to rotate with someone) or couldn’t return to work. For the most part, these individuals have received full pay. Also, we offered WFH options to employees that had the ability to be productive and had access to the systems from home. Many of our roles had to be in office. For those in office roles, we reduced staff and let them rotate off and on based on department ability to do so. For the few small departments that none of the above has worked for, we gave those employees additional days off to be used at a later date.

  99. Liz*

    I can’t necessarily speak for the whole company, because I’m still pretty new (started in January). However, I am currently pregnant and will be having Baby in a few weeks. I’ve been encouraged to take my full leave – no worries about job loss or take a shorter leave or anything. I’m an admin in a truly essential industry (rural fuel delivery for farms), so I wasn’t necessarily worried about losing my job, but it’s been nice to still be encouraged to take a full leave and have that support from the company and my supervisor during a super busy time of year for the company.

  100. LifeBeforeCorona*

    We have only one staffer with young kids and her job can’t be done from home. Her partner has the option of switching shifts with their co-workers. Between that and other staff covering for her, we have almost complete coverage. It helps that this is the slow time of year and with CORVID-19, even more so. It’s a chain, co-worker, her partner, his co-workers, their partners are all trying to join hands so everyone can work and have childcare at the same time.

  101. A*

    My employer (large parent company + my division) has done/is doing the following:
    *Note: we have employees all over the US and some abroad, so the below takes into account multiple state requirements

    – Re-prioritized projects/workloads and put everything not immediately time sensitive on hold

    – Set & have repeatedly reiterated expectation that we all just try our best. No expectation of 100% productivity or availability, just make sure the few time sensitive things still on our plates are taken care of as needed

    – No meetings allowed Tuesday & Thursday mornings unless absolutely necessary (this was implemented a few weeks into the shut down specifically to ease the stress of parents homeschooling + WFH)

    – Reduction in meetings / understood parents schedules will be unpredictable / subject to change / might need to jump off early etc.

    In terms of returning to work (happening in waves slowly over the next two months):
    – If position is not required to be on-site / can WFH just as effectively – parents can continue to WFH indefinitely (to be re-evaluated at end of summer) regardless of whether childcare is open/available
    – If position needs to be on-site and childcare is open/available they will be expected to return once the building opens
    -If position needs to be on-site but childcare is not open/available they will be expected to come in at least 1 day/wk, WFH the rest of the week. I’m not sure how they are handling positions that cannot be done at home, but where people are saying they are unable to return due to childcare. I think it’s less black and white in my area as we are near the borders of several states, so not only do we have employees coming from all over but they also have childcare options in multiple states.

    Luckily it hasn’t been an issue so far, everyone I’ve spoken to that is required to be on-site and has children at home has several backup childcare options in place due to the nature of their work. I have no doubt there will be challenges along the way, but so far so good!

  102. Roads Lady*

    I’m a teacher… Truly, the best support is the teaching-from-home, even with all the all-too-true horrors alluded to in memes. We are welcome to come into the school (it’s tiny) but it’s been great for our family to be home, and the district even stated the option was to help families do what they need to do.

  103. NJ*

    My company has made it clear work the schedule that works for you. We had a check-in to discuss how we’re doing and what works for us or challenges. Really just being supportive and understanding of the fact we are all in different situations so there is no 1 size solution

  104. Kelly*

    I work for a large healthcare system that has been very supportive of parents. As soon as school was cancelled, they offered a benefit to cover two weeks of childcare, up to $10/hour for 10 hours a day. This was for all forms of dependent care, including both children and disabled or elderly adults. They also worked with the local YMCA to provide a subsidized rate for childcare as needed, in addition to their normal back up care benefit (10 days a year of subsidized care for any dependent). They regularly let employees know when affiliated care centers had availability.

    For non-clinical staff like myself, we were immediately told to work from home (assuming our jobs could be done remotely, which mine could). Having daycare was not required. Management was extremely understanding about the need for flexibility and the fact that we’d need to block off calendars at certain times in order to trade childcare duties with partners.

  105. PrgrmMgr*

    I’m in the non-profit sector, in an area that’s been a COVID-19 hot zone by US standards since early March, assisting clients who have been hurt significantly by the current situation. I have a five year old (wrapped up preschool now, no outside care options until at least July).

    My employer has been good by having low expectations. They sent us home in March with the expectation we’d be home for a couple of weeks. I have done my best to outline what I can and cannot do (both to my boss and my clients) and nobody has expressed problems with that.

    I am struggling with some of what others in my industry seem to be expecting or highlighting. I have received an unexpected email from a funder on a Friday night (after 9 PM) asking for extensive work to be done over the weekend, including a Saturday conference call. This is far outside the norm of work expectations in my field. In a Zoom presentation for the general public this week, a colleague from a partner organization highlighted how someone spent a whole weekend helping a client (more hours that our clients would generally need in normal circumstances, too). I think a lot of us our limited in what we can do based on (a) what home office set-up we have at (most of us have been based in physical offices before March), (b) what home office set-up our clients have, and (c) what limits we are individually comfortable with. I’ve been asked if clients can bring me paperwork or if they should bring it to me. We have risk factors at home; I am not comfortable with this kind of handoff and then having to go to my office to scan confidential documents for people. I am nervous that in the foreseeable future, programs that are willing to ask staff to sacrifice the work-life balance we highlight in our field will be rewarded financially by funders and those of us that are trying to find balance for our families, being mindful of our physical and mental well being are going to struggle, but maybe more of us are doing what I am than is discussed and the “work all weekend” folks are outliers.

  106. PrgrmMgr*

    Also, since I’ve largely been able to set my own limits (at least so far), it’s been helpful for me to coordinate the day with my spouse to try to get some stuff done with our 5 year old – a science project, some reading workbook lessons, playing outside – while the other works, and trying to wrap up our work days by 5:00, just as we would normally. The somewhat normal family time evenings and weekends is really helpful for our sanity. There are plenty of times during the week that we turn on the tv so we can both work, but we have found a balance where we feel like we’re moving everything forward the best we can.

  107. Mack*

    My Company is being very flexible about hours, still get your hours in, but can work earlier in the morning/after bedtime/on weekends. They basically just want everyone to keep up with everything while remaining flexible. My husband still needs to go into the office for his job, but they offered the option of second shift if that would work better for people. So he is with our 1 year old during the day, I log off and take over when he leaves for work in the afternoon, and then I log back on and wrap up work items in the evening after putting kiddo to bed, husband gets home at midnight. It works for now

  108. Maxie*

    Alison, first thanks for being a manager and human being who cares so much and wants to do this well. One of your themes is clear and direct communication. I suggest asking the parents what they need. Depending on agency or companycompany size, maybe starting with and email and following up via phone? I would be clear that not all suggestions can need implemented and there will be no penalties for asking (e.g., reduced hours/full pay). I would also consider having different solutions for different people.
    I am lucky that I have always worked at home for a nonprofit, my work is secure, I can work whenever I want as long as I get my work done and my contributions are very appreciated. I have a younger teen. My niece told me about her sister-in-law’s struggles. She has two kids under 5, one with a special need (not severe, but needs intervention). Her boss told her it doesn’t matter when she does the work as long as she puts in 40 hours. The boss probably thinks he/she is being flexible and supportive, but caring for two young children, working 40 hours and sleeping is just not physically possible.
    Most of us are afraid to say we are overwhelmed. Inviting people to say this and suggest what would work, then implementing it would work wonders.

  109. Lilyp*

    In addition to the really flexible scheduling we already have, I know my office has been scheduling “remote child entertainment” things, like an hour where they pay a magician/clown/yoga studio to run a show/class on a zoom meeting and people can, I guess, plop their child in front of it to keep them quiet for a while? I don’t have kids so I don’t know if it’s any good but they keep sending out the invites so I assume they’ve been well-received. They also sent out a poll asking for suggestions from parents before starting it. Also, they offered a one-time reimbursement up to like $1k for work-from-home expenses to everyone and highlighted that childcare/child expenses are fair game.

  110. Picky*

    Basically, we are all maintaining the fiction that the parents are getting their work done, and we are making do with them actually producing 25% of their usual work. The rest of us aren’t taking up the slack, we’re just prioritizing hard and telling the parents they are doing great and it’s amazing how much they are getting done, etc. They are being paid their regular salary. As a manager, I believe this will come back to us in employee good will a million fold.

  111. Frankie*

    My managers and my entire division is being very understanding about parents with very young children and are being very flexible. We are not expected to be at our usual productivity (nor are others expected to “cover” for us), but we are lucky in that our work is flexible so there’s no built-in deadlines and everything can be adjusted. There is formal administrative leave as well, but that’s more for if you literally can’t get any work done, can’t do your job at home, etc.

    I do have to say I’ve been very worried anyway, because layoffs are always a possibility in this environment, and not only am I not able to do my usual hours but there’s some higher-level thinking that’s been very hard to do that’s central to certain aspects of our work. But I’ve been assured that’s on everyone’s radar and thankfully, some of the central higher ups in my division have young children as well, so I’m hoping that if layoffs do come up the difficulties parents are having won’t impact a decision to keep them on or not.

  112. LizardOfOdds*

    Our (large) company is able to work from home. We were already doing a lot virtually since we’re a global tech company, so remote work was never a stretch – most people worked from home a couple days a week before the pandemic anyway. Now, anyone (including parents) can voluntarily furlough or reduce their work week, or they can take unpaid LOA, but most people can’t do afford the pay cuts that come with those options. Companywide policies aren’t making nearly as much of a difference for employees as individual manager practices are.

    Managers at our company have a lot of discretion to offer whatever they feel is best to support their teams. I only have a couple of people with kids on my team, but I essentially told them their families come first and they can work whenever they’re able. Sometimes they miss meetings, so we record them and they catch up later. Sometimes they can’t work a full week, so I’m reducing workloads to match their availability, and that means not everything is getting done. That’s OK. It’s a freaking pandemic, my dudes, and it will all be fine someday. We’re also open to including kids in our meetings, and that’s been really fun. One time a toddler dance party broke out, and everyone else on that Zoom meeting joined in for a welcome break from routine. I’m sure there are organizations where this sort of approach would not work for whatever reason, but it works really well for us, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

  113. Senor Montoya*

    Alison, this will sound nitpicky, but I think what you’re asking is, how is your employer treating parents of small children. I’m a parent, my child is in college. But I’m still a parent and having a college student suddenly home, finishing class work, and not able to work this summer poses its own issues for me. I am sure you have other readers in the same situation.
    Just a plea to remember that “parents” covers a range of family types.

    1. LQ*

      Why wouldn’t that be covered? If you want your employer to do something for you based on your situation of having college aged student suddenly home you could post that. And if people are having employers be flexible for cases like that they could post that.

      I mentioned earlier that there is full time fully paid leave for parents with children up to 18 where I am. We also hired a couple of out of school/out of work college aged kids of folks who work here (we needed people quickly for round 1) for jobs that require someone physically in the building. So that would also be a kind of thing that’s not really done FOR parents, but is relevant for parents.

      1. Lisa*

        I have had my college student daughter home since Spring Break. She is doing online classes for this term, and is planning to take time off from college if campus doesn’t reopen for physical classes in the fall. She was on track to join her dream program next year, but now whatever they are able to offer is unlikely to be anything the same, and she was already going to be taking a bit of a risk with her student debt. vs. earnings potential.

        Her older brother–an essential worker but partially WFH–and his girlfriend who is furloughed, live over my garage. So with four adults (plus two dogs and a cat) sharing 1.25 of a house, we have plenty of space—but we still run into little challenges, like, how someone can do telehealth therapy without being overheard, or wifi bandwidth. My daughter also works several days a week as one of the only non-furloughed staff at a local restaurant, so I let her use my car to commute to keep her off public transit. And I sometimes work from the couch for a stretch so that she can use my more elaborate office setup for a video class.

        I am self-employed now but if I still worked for a company, without detracting from the much more critical child-care challenges, I would be interested in anything we could do to help these young people who are struggling with the devastation of their well-laid plans just as they were starting off in life. I expect we will have to rethink internships, degree requirements, tuition finance, and all kinds of attributes of the entry-level workforce over the next few years as higher education gets turned on its ear.

        Having survived a few ice storms back when my kids were Littles and I worked at a mega-corp, I remember how hard that could be, even though I wasn’t yet a single mother at the time. Love and Fortitude to you all! I am really impressed by the great examples I see here from some standout employers, and disappointed by some not-so-great. I hope this has some permanent positive effect on parenting in the workforce.

        My highlights have included teaching my daughter-not-in-law to help me in the garden, which she is finding she enjoys (unlike my bio kids). And getting more opportunity to help my daughter with assignments than I usually did when she was away at school.

    2. blackcat*

      One of the graduate students I work with is suddenly in a house with her two college age siblings and her high school age sibling. So there are ~6 adults/near adults trying to all work from one house. It’s a mess! They have to stagger meetings b/c internet bandwidth and space to take quiet calls (I think they have 4 bedrooms or something, so a sizable house, but not enough space for each person to have a good quiet space).

      When she told her parents she has to meet with me two days a week at 1pm and only 1pm, because I have a two year old and that’s when he naps, they offered to ship me wine!

  114. JQWADDLE*

    The big things I have appreciated:

    – An alternative schedule. Pre-COVID, I worked 7:30 AM until 4 PM. Now I work 12 PM until 8:30 PM.

    – General kindness. My daughter had a fever about 3 weeks into working from home. I mentioned I had a snuggler in a meeting and that she had a fever and my manager said – “J if you need time to care for her, work can wait.” I didn’t ask for it and I didn’t use it, but it was nice to know it was available.

    – When kids pop into meetings, the child will usually be acknowledged – people will wave or say hi. Nobody is ever left to feel bad for an impromptu visit from a child.

  115. STEMprof*

    I’m faculty in a soft-money field (meaning my position is 80% grant funded) at a grad school. Even pre-COVID, faculty had unlimited PTO and a lot of flexibility re where and when we worked, but the productivity expectations were also ridiculous. I now have a 5 yo at home, and I am splitting shifts with my husband and working in the evening to average *maybe* 6-7 hours a day.
    What they’re doing right: Campus has been closed since march, as have schools and daycares; everyone is WFH. Unlimited PTO has continued; flexibility re hours has continued. Our dean and associate dean for faculty (both of whom, not coincidentally, are women) sent out a message early on that acknowledged the difficulty of being productive with kids at home or other caregiving responsibilities, and encouraged us to treat ourselves with grace. The university, like many, is also implementing a 1 year tenure clock extension for all faculty.
    What could be better:
    -Unfortunately, many senior faculty and other leadership at our school are men with SAHM spouses, or working spouses that also dealt with their kids, so I’ve definitely heard of some clueless/tone-deaf remarks (Newton developed calculus during the plague, etc). I also don’t think the productivity expectations have really changed, at least in the eyes of some senior faculty. Not sure how to change the culture around this.
    -I have colleagues scheduling 90 minute calls that do not need to be 90 minutes, or calls that could really be emails (eg, I have 17 hrs of calls this week). This makes it really difficult to actually get work done. Minimize meetings/calls! And schedule them as far in advance as possible. Please.

  116. Generic Name*

    My company is allowing staff to take intermittent “COVID sick time” to deal with kids if your daycare is closed or if schools are closed. It’s been helpful to me so I can help my son with schoolwork and don’t have to work additional hours on top of being a homeschool teacher. The federal regulations say people have to be paid 2/3 of their pay, but my company is kicking in the remaining 1/3 so no one is short on their pay, which is awesome. It’s still incredibly difficult. And I get that it sucks that it feels like parents are getting special treatment, but I would like to respectfully point out that fairness does not equate to “everybody being treated exactly the same”.

  117. Swingbattabatta*

    My employer is allowing me to flex my hours (lots of early mornings, late nights, and weekends) and is reducing my workload. However, I’m hourly and don’t get paid if I don’t work, so having to reduce my time to take care of my kids means that I’m taking a serious financial hit. My kids are young (4 and 1) and physically cannot be left unattended while I handle things quickly. I tried taking a quick 5 minute call today and both kids decided to ramp up the volume to maximum level RIGHT THAT MINUTE. My husband is a doctor and is in clinic/at the hospital, so I have to be the one to take this hit.

    This is so hard. I don’t know how much longer I can take this without having a complete meltdown.

  118. MistOrMister*

    The most I know my company has done is waiving that you can’t work from home if you have to take care of your kids. From talking to my coworkers that have kids there don’t seem to be any other concessions. It would be nice if they offered flex time or something, seeing as kids can be a huge distraction. But we are expected to work our set hours and nothing more, and it seems your kids should sit quietly the whole time.

  119. Mayor of Llamatown*

    Honestly, just a lot of leeway and flexibility to manage our work and our children at the same time. Upper management and executives have explicitly stated that it is perfectly fine to hear and see kids on calls/videos. My director has shared her own struggles with her school-aged kids. My manager has reached out to me (and my coworkers) multiple times to ask how we’re doing, what we need, and what she can do to help us – and not in an obnoxious, too-feely way, just in a “I’m here if you need my help” way. The big difference is the explicit reaching-out that’s coming from the top down.

    For me, my husband’s work is flexible enough that he takes care of our six-month old most of the day. When he needs a cuddle or wants to be with me, I’ll have him on my lap through meetings when I don’t have to take notes (he’s become something like a team mascot). But I do have to nurse him, and he doesn’t always get hungry at convenient times. I’ve gotten better at coordinating with my husband to nurse proactively if I have, say, a meeting all afternoon that I absolutely need to be in. I also have told my manager explicitly that I’m struggling with that. She has given me permission to beg off of meetings if he needs to eat, and she can step in if she is able to fill in for me. Again, I might not have been able to get that help if my manager wasn’t so invested in making sure I knew she wanted to help me and that I could bring anything up to her. And she did that for everyone, not just those of us with young kids, because you never know what circumstances someone is experiencing or what help they might need.

    I’d say if you are in a position to influence what your company does, make sure your executive level empowers everyone, all the way down, to have these conversations and give each other the flexibility and compassion to do what’s best for themselves and their families. Keep close contact and make sure those supportive conversations are happening all the time.

  120. Sleepheadzzz*

    I’m very lucky. I work in a non-profit but we were in a great position before the pandemic and still are. Our board is really really supportive. We’re doing a mix of working from home and coming in to the office once a week so no more than 2 staff are in the building.

    My husband is essential so he’s had to work FT since everything started. Instead of doing my shifts during the day, work was awesome about me doing them in the evenings after my husband gets home. Such a huge help. Pay has not been cut at all, which is also amazing.

    I’m so so so so grateful to be in this position.

  121. OlympiasEpiriot*

    My company doesn’t appear to be doing anything supportive. In fact, we have received multiple COVID19 Office Update letters and in each one, we are reminded that time with “distractions” cannot be billed either to jobs or office overhead. We need to use personal time for that on our timesheets.

    Fwiw, standard office policy is only to bill time actually worked and to make up a full work day, the assumption is that time not spent on a job (or used for short normal necessity breaks that just get swallowed up in the general time to do a task) is going to be spent on some office project/filing/etc. relative to our rank and what sort of general work we do.

    Getting these reminders is infantilizing.

    Oh yeah, and we got nagged to make sure we aren’t dressed in “lounge wear”. That misuse (or new use?) of the term made me imagine wearing a cocktail dress for MS Teams conferences. Btw, few, very, very few, of our conference calls include being on camera. Most people don’t want to.

  122. MinnieK*

    I work in a non-clinical position at a large, multi-state, pediatric health care system. The organizational policies for parents have been… mostly unhelpful. Our clinics/hospitals have only been offering essential services, so almost all non-clinical workers shifted to work at home almost immediately and many clinical workers were re-deployed to help with other efforts, including sewing masks, making face shields, screening and testing events, etc. No one had their hours cut or their positions eliminated, and if work couldn’t be found for you, you still received your full paycheck, and just had to bill that time to a special COVID account. That’s great, of course.

    Locally there were other health care organizations who were furloughing people so in that sense we felt lucky. But, there are no policies offering flexible arrangements to parents. This is not surprising. Despite being a pediatric healthcare system, they have always had shitty family policies (they don’t even offer paid parental leave). I was in a meeting with leadership where a manager brought up an employee who wanted to flex some of her hours to be available specifically during her baby’s nap time. She was told that if she couldn’t be available during her normal 9-5 hours, she had to take PTO. (I should note, we have too many employees to qualify for many of the programs from the government relief act.)

    The organizational message is if you can’t do your full day of work because you are taking care of a child – even if schools are closed – you are required to take PTO (which is a bucket for both vacation and sick time.) That being said, each manager has a great deal of flexibility in how they approach that. I already worked from home 2 days a week, and my entire job can be done from home, so my work load did not change at all – in fact, I got more work because two people left our department for new jobs in April and I absorbed some of their work. My boss is flexible with her expectations of when I can be available, but has not really changed her expectations about how much I can get done. She is a workaholic with two kids and will stay up late into the night to get her work done, which is something I can’t do if I want to remain a functional person.

    On the flip side, my husband’s company – an engineering firm that mostly employs men – has offered more flexibility both with the number of hours worked and when they can be worked. They have a special billing code for COVID that’s specifically for hours that you can’t work because of childcare/healthcare/household issues. But the work still has to get done, and they still have deadlines. We have both found that no one is giving much grace for deadlines (particularly external organizations we are working with). My husband has been waking up at 4 a.m. to try to get a big chunk of work done before our three-year-old wakes up. Or he’ll work after she’s gone to bed. But he’s said he’s felt some pushback when he’s had to step away to help with kid stuff, because they know that I am home too, and why can’t I just take care of it. And today I was on a call when my daughter came up and asked me some questions, and I answered them quickly (I was the one speaking so I was not on mute) and said, “now, go away,” and a co-worker on the call admonished me for telling my child to go away (cause what I really need right now is a co-worker telling me how to parent.) We have rules about calls and who she is supposed to go to when we are on calls and that’s just a part of life right now. Sometimes I have to tell her to go away. So are we being supported? Kinda? As long as we stay productive. But that’s capitalism, baby!

  123. Marika*

    My spouse is with ‘Big Tech’ and they went work from home the week before our county announced lockdown, and about 10 days before the State (California) did. When the county announced and the schools were closed, the company basically sent an email that said “For the next month, do whatever you have to do to take care of your families – Managers, deadlines must be flexible; if you can’t work because of kids, so be it”.

    After the first month, they announced a formal policy – 6 weeks paid leave for parents, can be taken all in one go; week on, week off; or as half days for 12 weeks. You have to formally apply – everyone gets it if they need it, but it’s got to be on record so your work can be reassigned/moved around.

    On paper it’s awesome – in practice, it depends on your group/team/management. It’s ‘Big Tech’ – like 60+% of the workforce doesn’t have kids and are being super-productive (as one person on my spouse’s team said “I don’t have a commute – so that’s two more hours a day I can work!”) When you’ve got kids, that’s not viable, and there’s a lot of informal pressure to ‘hold up your end’.

    In our case, I’m a substitute teacher, so I’m not working right now – only, we have a 7 year old, so I am working… but not for a paycheque! I’ve got the kid, spouse is working from a desk we set up upstairs, so that there’s some separation and we don’t make each other crazy.

    My spouse’s team/group/division has been AMAZING – everyone keeps telling him to take some time with us, to invite us to lunch meetings, to go and do stuff with us. His immediate supervisor (who just got engaged – no kids – also about 10 years younger than us) told him flat out to start taking a half day a week to give me a break!

    In this case, it really helps that the leadership from the division is amazing – turns out their big boss did a Ph.D in Family Psychology before doing his MBA – he’s literally doing web meetings on best parenting practices and managing stress, and keeps stressing that ‘we’re in this for the long haul – you burn out your family now, we’re absolutely F*cked. You have to take care of each other if you want to be able to take care of your work’.

    Now that they’ve announced that most people will be working from home until January at the latest… who the hell knows? I have to assume they’ll figure it out, but they can’t keep offering indefinite leaves.

  124. Saying goedenavond from the Netherlands*

    The Netherlands kept primary schools (and I think special education secondary schools as well) open for children whose parents had an ‘essential job’ – health care, teaching (see the irony), food industry (farmers to supermarket employees), water/electricity, law enforcement, etc. Even journalists. Initially just for kids whose parents both/all had an essential job, then also for kids who only had one parent with such a job, and schools decided themselves to also open for kids with bad situations at home (which was then made government policy) like mentally ill parents, special needs siblings, being special needs themselves and their parents needing a break, etc.

    This was not just for parents who had to physically go to work, but also for parents who WFHed.

    It was not a continuation of school, more like an ad hoc daycare (only education was the distance education worksheets AFAIK, and beyond that it was just playing with a teacher ‘babysitting’, grades were combined, etc).

    Past tense because primary schools reopened this week. (Part-time. Though on the days a kid doesn’t have school, school will still do daycare if their parents have an essential job.) But, it seemed like a pretty good solution.
    (Heh – I’m looking up the list of essential jobs, and it’s so long I can barely think of a job that isn’t covered by it! But in my family member’s school, only about 5% of the kids made use of it.)

  125. only acting normal*

    (In the UK so no schools or childcare open at all, and no non-resident babysitters allowed.)

    Everyone is working from home, no-one is furloughed (=80% pay, up to a cap, paid by gov). Our flexible hours policy has become 100% flexible, as in you can *try* to fit in your hours any time day or night, any day of the week. However, if you’re struggling with caring responsibilities (not just kids) and simply cannot do your usual full hours, you don’t have to use all your holiday, instead there is “special paid leave”. This is normally limited, and at management discretion (eg a day or two for a funeral, or charity work, or a week for jury service etc), but senior leadership have made it clear it is to be applied very liberally right now.
    Leadership have also been clear that people are to put their families first, and everyone is to be supportive and understanding of each other’s non-work pressures. For example, non-carers haven’t been pressured to pick up any extra work either. It has all been remarkably empathetic, and the leaders have been exactly that: leaders.
    (Seriously, the amounts of goodwill bought by the organisation over this will pay huge loyalty dividends for years.)

  126. TechWorker*

    The U.K. has a right to unpaid parental leave (confusingly completely separate to shared parental leave) of which you get a lifetime allowance per child (18 weeks) to take before they’re 18, and can take at most 4 weeks in a year. Usually my company follows government policy of it needing to be taken in one week chunks but that restriction is currently lifted. It’s allowed some employees to go down to effectively 4 days a week without needing to go through the faff of requesting to be officially part time so hopefully that’s helping!

  127. Bubbles McPherson*

    Even before we were shut down and doing WFH officially, the grandboss made it known that parents with young children could apply to WFH on the same terms as people with underlying health conditions. I had never had that kind of consideration extended for my kids before, and it was amazing.

    On a practical level, I do my work and they don’t care when it gets done. I have 1-2 Zoom calls a day, and the rest of my time is mine to manage as I need to. If I do the work at 4 a.m. on Saturday or 9 a.m. on Thursday, as long as I meet my deadlines and am responsive, no one has asked or cared. I spent this morning reading and playing with my kids instead of writing llama care instructions. It’s great, and I know I’m getting totally spoiled.

  128. Emily, the Other One*

    My team is being amazing. My daughter is 2.5 and she likes to pop onto my zoom calls – including expensive calls with big shot lawyers – and she is always warmly welcomed. Her chatter is gently engaged and then we carry on. Additionally, when we have team check in calls my supervisor is extremely careful to always mention my unique challenge of not having childcare (I’m the only one with a small child on my team of right) when discussing so called “reopening” plans. I am also 7 months pregnant and they decided 6 weeks ago that – while it was up to me – I would not be expected to return to the office until after maternity leave to minimize my exposure to the virus.

    The challenge is that these are not official policies so I have no clue how the others are fairing on other teams, though we’re generally ok to parents.

  129. Ada Doom*

    My work has been good for now (State University, New England). We’re encouraged to use FFCRA to replace daycare, 2/3 of the time taken is covered through the program, and the last 1/3 we can chose to furlough or use sick or vacation. (My husband can use sick time anyway. I mean, after having a baby and then 2 years of every snot-related illness known to humankind plus regular appointments, I have no actual sick time at the end of the month, but it’s not like I’m using my VACATION for anything else right now). Fortunately, that means that money is not an issue.

    As far as work load, we both have more work we could be doing (even remotely with closure) than we have time to do, but we’re down to 20hrs/week because that’s all we can manage along with watching the 2yo. My mom watches him for 2-3 days a week, so we have a stretch of uninterupted time and are slightly less insane. (That is against some recommendations, but we basically treat our 2 households as 1 and literally see nobody else except for weekly grocery pickups). Our bosses have been understanding and we’re getting the important stuff done (current crisis has created new special work that we’re doing, so we’re getting brownie points for that).

    I’m concerned about the future. So things are opening back up, but what has changed in terms of transmission really? What will have changed when we are again open in the fall?
    * When will my FFCRA run out? What happens then?
    * Will I be eligible when my son’s daycare opens back up (also through the university)?
    * Given that the semester is now over, faculty are now celebrating the end of the semester and the relief that summer will bring, which is the opposite of what’s happening with my position–will the university have less pressure to be accommodating to staff (who are generally less in the young-child-having demographic)? And when the students are back?
    * We can’t go back to full time without sending the petri dish back to daycare. As soon as that happens, we have to stop seeing my parents, because we have to assume that he will bring home any illness possible. For how long? Until there’s a vaccine?
    * So do we keep him home (but keep paying to hold the slot in daycare, because that literally has a year waiting list?)? If we have to go back to work on site, do my husband and I just make sure to be super careful and continue to have my folks watch him more?

    I genuinely can’t try to plan it, because I have no idea what will happen and I can’t do anything about it so it’s just stress.

  130. Bezos slaves.*

    I’m a warehouse worker at Amazon. Amazon d/c the unpaid time off without penalty on May 1st. You can apply for an unpaid LOA, but chances are you will be denied. We work and know that we are all replaceable at anytime. People who had to self quarantine aren’t getting the promised two weeks pay. Massive red tape and multiple doctor forms submitted and still getting denied. We live check to check. There are at least twelve positive COVID-19 cases at my warehouse. No one cares at all. The $2 hazard pay was extended until the end of May as well as the double OT. However, no OT is being made available. Amazon fights to the death any unemployment claim.

  131. Bezos slaves.*

    Wanted to add this: parents are SOL. No daycares are open in the foreseeable future. I don’t have children, but I have elderly parents. This virus is spreading and will be here for many months to come.

  132. Stella*

    As someone without children, I am surprised to see people listing “being able to work from home without childcare” as something employers are doing to make their lives easier. If there is no childcare and there is a stay at home order, there is no alternative unless you want to fire all the parents! I’m also surprised that people are grateful for being able to shift their hours. Under normal circumstances, that seems like a good accommodation. Under these circumstances, it seems absurd for am employer to expect someone with children to work a full 40 hours every week while somehow homeschooling their children. How are single parents managing this? How are you getting enough sleep?

    I also seriously wonder how many children are being left alone at home because their parents are essential workers or for some reason forced to go to work while there is no childcare.

    It seems to me that there must be a crisis situation where children are not being cared for and parents are being fired or having breakdowns because this seems like such an impossible situation. I understand that small businesses and the economy need help, but I do wonder why I hear comparatively little about children and parents. Even my cat sometimes interrupts me in the middle of the day because she wants to play. What are you supposed to do if you are up all night with the baby and then you are expected to put in a full day of work?

    1. Half-Caf Latte*

      1) we don’t sleep. Coffeeeeeeee.

      2) we’re commiserating in Facebook parenting groups and to our friends, but we’re also worried about losing our jobs if we can’t keep up, so pretending to our bosses that it’s all fine. We also don’t have the time or energy to organize and write to our politicians about this, because we’re caring for our kids and working. – maybe this is something Actionable the wonderful concerned people who we have in our corner could do?

      1. Stella*

        I bet!

        Good idea. Part of why I think I am so acutely aware of how impossible this might be is that I have things like chronic pain where sometimes I just have a headache that prevents me from thinking and various other medical issues and I’m currently trying to find a new job so I can move because my chronic pain means I need to be closer to family and I am very grateful I get a fair amount of vacation because I was going to snap if I didn’t take this week off. Originally I was supposed to be on my honeymoon this week. Job searching is really hard right now but not something you can even let your employer know about, and pain issues that sometimes make working more challenging and are gradually worsening are not things I want to tell my company about in case I can’t move. So of course everyone right now who is having any difficulty is going to have at least some concern that if they let their employer know, there could be consequences.

        I just wish we had shut everything down much earlier and just pumped out tests and PPE. It seems like much of this was preventable. We are looking at possibly more than a year and a half to get to a vaccine. It would have been so much cheaper to shut things down much earlier because it could have been for a shorter period of time, and ideally we could have paid people to do things like distribute groceries or manufacture at least some forms of PPE and do contact tracing and worked on pumping out tests. I think we are likely to need to cycle between more and less social distancing to manage the numbers, but if we had shut down earlier, maybe we could have prevented things from spreading across the entire country. Hopefully the country learns a lesson from all this and we put in place whatever systems could have prevented things from getting this bad.

        For example, I work with computers. I feel like I should have been told to work from home much earlier. If people like me had been working from home earlier, that would have reduced some crowding and maybe slowed things down. It just feels like we are doing things the hard way.

    2. OlympiasEpiriot*

      Single parent with a teen. Working from home full-time. It is not easy. I’m still doing the bulk of the cooking and logistics and I have a very logistically demanding job.

  133. Half-Caf Latte*

    Ughhhhhh. Warning: FEELINGS ahead, because my personal situation as a parent to the espresso shots has been so so hard. Thanks again to all who had kindness for me on a recent Friday thread.

    Context: we’re a major academic healthcare system, and one of the largest employers in our fair city. Not eligible for the FMLA expansion, we are well above the 500 person cap. Every healthcare org I have ever worked for has had pretty unforgiving attendance policies- basically, you’re expected to be at work when you’re scheduled, don’t care if there’s 3 ft of snow, or if the pope is coming to town, or if there’s a Super Bowl parade with free beer for everyone. These rules are understandable when talking about patient care, but in practice my org applies many of these types of standards pretty broadly, with the rationale that healthcare is essential, and everyone’s work serves the mission. I’m not in a clinical role currently, but I maintain a professional license and my work supports clinical teams.

    Okay- the Good: Early on, it was announced that absences due to lack of childcare wouldn’t be counted against you in the aforementioned punitive process. Normally, something like 3 in 6 mos gets you a formal warning, 8 in a year is grounds for termination.

    The Nuanced: They worked with some childcare facilities to make spots available to essential workers. I know this was a ton of logistics to get off the ground quickly. It was clear all employees were eligible to take advantage of this, but it was also clear spots were limited. I felt like if I were to claim spots for the espresso shots, it would take childcare away from direct caregivers who couldn’t work from home or be more flexible like I could, and I didn’t want to do that. Practically, the locations were all close to the hospitals, which is a 45 minute 1-way drive from my house. To drop kiddos off, and go home to work remotely and then go retrieve would be 3.5 hours per day or more just commuting. Plus, it’s across state lines, my state had different shelter in place rules, and separate standards for Childcare operations. The rates were also above what I used to pay, although we were told they negotiated them down. I also REALLY resented some of the messaging around this program, because it was like – look! We solved all your problems for you! Just drop your kids off here no worries! And I wanted to be like- my kids are people, not dry cleaning, just drop them wherever isn’t as easy as it sounds. And with as quickly as things were changing, especially my sensitive soul child can’t just be thrown into a new situation that might be temporary, and with childcare providers we hadn’t vetted at all.

    The Bad- I had a Friday post recently about how my boss failed big time. In short, on a Saturday at 8pm I got an automated email from our timekeeping software that my remote work schedule for the upcoming week had been rejected. I called my boss on Sunday to be like “what does this mean? What’s expected of me?” And she had no answers, just a nebulous thought/fear that we might be needed to “respond quickly” to COVID needs. She GENUINELY couldn’t understand why I would need/want notice if I was going to be needed on site, and just kept reiterating that there was an email from HR about how you’re supposed to have childcare in order to be working remotely. I explained that there is no childcare to be had in the whole state, trust-me-I’ve-looked-plans-A-through-D have failed, and that I was flexing my hours as I had already proposed to her, and I had been able to keep up with work at home, but to be onsite is an entirely different ball of wax, and without substantial advance notice means the wax is actually on fire. Her response: “well there was an email.” So that sucked.
    Also sucky: last minute additions of meetings/changes to calendars, sending an email with meeting materials 30 mins before said meeting, and what I can best describe as an attitude of “well we were accommodating in the beginning but surely you’ve had time to find a solution since,” to which I want to be like – Nothing. Has. Changed. I’m gaslighting myself over here thinking there must be some way I just haven’t thought of yet, like the pandemic is a personal failing.

    Not yet bad, but I’m worried about it: re-opening. Given our location we have staff from a tristate area. I’m so stressed about if my employer is ready to go but I can’t send the espresso shots to camp/childcare because my state isn’t ready. I have spoken with so many peers in the same boat. We’re barely treading water with kiddos at home, but literally can’t go back into the office if it reopens without childcare in place. Given the above, I don’t trust boss with this conversation, but it would be such a relief if my employer came to me with a plan, even just letting me know what their expectations are and what might be feasible so I could make informed plans. I’ve been reluctant to ask for an LOA, because what if I take 12 weeks and in 12 weeks nothing is different? If I had taken it in mid March I’d be 8 week in already. I also think my employer isn’t really thinking about what parts of their work employees place the most value on – I’m pretty sure clinical staff who are also parents will do what they need to to find coverage for their clinical duties and patient care shifts, but I don’t think they’ll be as motivated to find childcare for a quality improvement meeting that we’re holding onsite, I think they’ll be pissed it wasn’t made virtual. Remote work is viewed with skepticism so I’m not confident people will be willing to stick their necks out to keep things virtual after reopening.

  134. Lucky*

    I’ve got 3 parents of young kids reporting to me. We’re allowing flexed time like crazy (“work whatever hours you can”) and I told them not to risk their health or sleep trying to fit work in. I told them that basically if they were doing more than half a day of work, that was okay. Luckily, the work’s flexible enough that we can do that, and schools & daycare are about to reopen and were only closed for a couple of months.

  135. a random person*

    Absolutely nothing. No WFH, no flex time, no reduction in hours, no extra flexibility. Also an email went around that checking on your kids during work time by phone was still considered time theft.

    In unrelated news, I’m jumping ship as soon as I can, even though I don’t have nor plan to have kids.

    1. Marika*

      Holy crud!
      Yeah, I’d say that they’ve decided to hoist their “we’re complete bastards who don’t think you’re human beings” flag nice and high. At least they decided to make it really clear?

      Good luck jumping ship!!!

  136. Random IT Guy*

    We don`t have any ‘parent specific’ plans.
    But – background noise from children is now accepted, even in formal (internal!) meetings.

    If you need to get something quick for your child – we can do this.
    Make up time later.

    Child sick – or need something with the child to be done – again, we can do so.
    SInce work from home leaves more free time (no travel to/from office) work can be done flexible times as well.
    2 hours in the morning – shopping break – then 5 hours – dinner break or so – and then 1 hour after 8pm? No problem.

    The only caveat: make sure you do your work.

  137. Looking*

    If you want to give parents options about childcare I would suggest allowing people with children (or no children) to do their work at any time during the day. For example early in the morning or later at night. I wish my company did that. The same would apply to need you them to come into the office. Allow weekend visits or things to be done late at night.

  138. DinoGirl*

    We are being flexible with everyone, not just parents, in terms of work time/hours etc. As long as your manager knows your plans and work gets done.
    When people start going back into the office this becomes trickier. At some point we may have to move into formal leaves.
    I know we’ll hear about the “unfairness” if we cut a break to parents that isn’t for everyone, which is frustrating. To tackle that now, as I said, we’re flexing for everyone, but it’s one of those things that feels a bit tough to tackle…to be responsible for young kids right now is a unique challenge.

    1. So sleepy*

      YeJ, I just wanted to echo this. There are no parents who ever imagined being in a position where they were required to keep their kids home from daycare indefinitely while continuing to work. It’s just as unfair to treat them the same as someone who has no home obligations whatsoever.

  139. Bree*

    I work for a non-profit in the health care space (we don’t provide direct care). They’ve always been very accommodating of parents – earlier this year there were teacher strikes and schools were closed, and kids were welcome in the office – we set up a board room with video game consoles.

    I’m not a parent, but my understanding from colleagues is that everyone is just juggling things. We’re all working from home, and there are often “special guests” on video calls, or babbling/screaming in the background. We all just roll with it, and the cameos are often greeted with joy and cooing. Regular hours have sort of gone out the window because of the nature of our work anyway, so everyone’s just trusted to get their work done. I’m trying to be helpful to my colleagues in terms of providing coverage for evening stuff, Mother’s Day.

    Most of our executive team have young children and have been open about their challenges, which I think is good.

  140. Beanie Counter*

    Back in mid-April, discussion started about when our state’s shelter-in-place orders were going to expire and whether our office would re-open. I mentioned at that point the fact that schools across the state have been closed at least through May, and that a lot of parents who worked for our company don’t have stay-at-home partners to watch them. Until childcare is available, many of us will simply have to continue working from home and home schooling.

    When our office re-opened this week, it re-opened on departments coming in on shifts to avoid too many people crowding and clear barriers were being added to our desks in the open environment. Hand sanitizer stations were added, masks are required and the cleaning crew focuses more on handles and other frequently touched surfaces. At least, this is what the email said; I haven’t been in the office since March 13th. Lots of people expressed concern about their health, and my company is remaining flexible with employees working from home. This is a BIG culture shift from before where butts-in-seats was the policy, and working from home was an exception for exceptional employees only on occasion. Considering that most everyone in the office is a parent, many of them single parents, it feels great to be trusted that I can be productive from home. I’ve got the clear to WFH until May 27th at least (the end of the school year), and even then, we’ll assess the situation at that point. I’m enjoying WFH so much, I may want to do this long term!

  141. Heat's Kitchen*

    My company has 3,000+ employees, so isn’t required to follow FFCRA. They have given everyone 5 days of emergency sick time that can be related to COVID illness, COVID care, or having to take care of children.

    Managers and the company are understanding of schedules changing because of kids, and being understanding that kids will be around during calls.

    Also being transparent that they’re open to different work arrangements/reduced schedules or leaves of absences.

    1. Heat's Kitchen*

      Oh, also, they will open offices on a voluntary basis on a state-by-state basis depending on those SIP laws. But they won’t require people to go into the office until, at a minimum, schools and daycares are back open.

  142. Malarkey01*

    Positives- they have been flexible with core hours, norms around telework with kids in the background have been relaxed and it’s no big deal, right now we’re more flexible with deadlines (for parents and non) because some things are less productive

    Negatives- the above has all been informal and work with your supervisor and in our large company seems to be working. However, since it’s been informal there’s a little sense of “I’m doing something wrong” if I go offline for 2 hours and pick back up at 7 pm. Or, I’m getting to do this but shouldn’t really talk about it. So it’s awkward if there’s a meeting scheduled during some offline team as you may not want to decline with childcare reasons.

    1. Tricia*

      Would also be helpful to trade off assignments with team mates – I’ll update all the reports if someone else can take that 8am call

  143. M*

    Best thing is being understanding. I feel comfortable joking about the insanity of it. Coworkers say things to let me know that they know it’s hard. Logistically with my team they are understanding that sometimes there will be noise in the background or I have to mute myself because a kid is talking. It’s totally fine for me to say “hang on, I gotta deal with this right now”, or to ask to reschedule a meeting. No one has said I’m expected to be at my computer and available from 9-5, so that allows me to take breaks here and there as my husband and I switch kid/work shifts. If I need to get caught up I can do it in the evening, or I can log on every day very early (which I do) to get some work time in then.

  144. Tricia*

    I’ve worked from home for the past 10 years. Scheduling conference and video call’s especially ahead of time is an important one. Especially if employee has way little ones it’s necessary. Flex hours are also super helpful as would giving the employee the option to reduce their hours/workload. Even if kids are older, they may be having a hard time with online learning and need the extra support from mom or dad.

  145. So sleepy*

    I’m so fortunate that we can work from hone full-time with the kids. That said, I would give pretty much anything for my employer to insist that parents (and caregivers, etc.) take an hour of each workday to focus on child care, homeschooling, etc. and allow us to take our special leave (typically for doctor’s appointments and caring for a sick child) and use it for homeschooling. Right now I’m so swamped that we just aren’t doing it. My kids have behavioural issues because I basically need them to occupy themselves for 40 hours a week. It’s killing me inside and yet I have to go on because my spouse has a business that is down about 95% from normal sales right now (but needs to work 7 days a week to get it ready and running as sales *hopefully* increase… we’d be happy with even 30% of what we projected to sell this summer).

    And I wish people would stop giving suggestions on how to do it better. Flexing hours seems like a great idea until you realize that I still have the kids in the evening and I have to sleep. My kids have ADHD so a lot of suggestions just don’t work for us (and make me feel like I’m failing as a parent and employee). Sometimes I cry on mute on conference calls because it’s just so, so hard.

    I’ve stopped applying for internal jobs I otherwise would really want because it’s too risky to make any changes with my home situation what it is… the worst was when someone far less skilled or qualified than me got a significant promotion a few weeks ago. I almost applied but couldn’t risk it. All to say that, try to think of us for opportunities when this is all over. My single colleagues are all participating in intense working groups, international (online) training seminars, stretch assignments, while every parent I know is scaling back career-wise. I am so grateful that others are stepping up but also devastated that I’m basically putting my career on hold because I’m a parent.

    I am also terrified that my employer may expect us to put our kids back in school/daycare as early as possible (when they re-open on an optional basis) when I know it’s going to be a massive adjustment for them that isn’t going to go well. I wish they would tell us that those who are working from home with kids will be permitted to do so until schools return to normal operations… something like that, so I can stop worrying about it happening too soon.

    1. So sleepy*

      P.s. I know some of that was not suggestions but I suspect seeing some of the worries may help you in figuring out what strategies would be most helpful.

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