1 апр. 2024 г.

Remote work, parenting, and finding balance

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  • Welcome to our conversation with Julia and Sandro, two parents navigating the challenges of raising young children while working. They discuss what the flexibility of hybrid and remote work means to them and how to create separation between work and family life. They also provide advice to other working parents and discuss what businesses can do to better support families. 

    Hi Julia and Sandro, thank you both for taking the time to talk about life as a parent in the age of hybrid and remote work. Before we start, can you tell us a little about yourselves?  

    Julia: I'm Julia, I have a boy who is 19 months old. I work as a Social Media Manager at TeamViewer. I’ve been at TeamViewer for almost four years now.

    Sandro: I'm Sandro, and I also have a son. He’s 18 months old now. I've been with TeamViewer for almost five years, currently working as a Senior Content Marketing Manager.

    Juggling work and parenting is challenging. How does the flexibility of working remotely help you balance your work and parenting commitments?

    Julia: Where I live in Germany, the daycare closes at 4:00 pm, and we often have unexpected closures. I feel lucky to have flexible working hours and the opportunity to work remotely. It lets me adapt to what life throws at me. Sure, there have been awkward moments in meetings with my kid on my lap, but I have really supportive colleagues. They get that life happens. 

    Sandro: Hybrid work is a game changer for me. As Julia said, it’s a safety net when childcare falls through or my son is unwell. It's not always smooth sailing, but it's the best solution without grandparents or other help nearby.

    Let’s talk about the challenges of remote work. The home office can sometimes blur the lines between work and family time. How do you ensure that there is clear separation? 

    Julia: Right now, we're focused on making family time a priority. Unless there's something urgent we need to do, we try to wait until our son is asleep. Eventually, he'll be off with his friends, and we can get back to our regular hours. 

    Sandro: Creating separation is a challenge. If you’re working from home and your child needs something, you can't just put it off. You have to handle it then and there.

    It’s essential to find time for yourself. Before we had a child, my wife and I were big on activities, sports, you name it. It’s impossible to do everything we used to, but we do our best to carve out time for ourselves. 

    A recent study found that 47% of parents only talk to people in their household when working from home, and 41% say they can go days without going outside… sound familiar? 

    Julia: I can relate to the part about not going outside enough. There are days when I realize I haven't stepped outside at all. When you’re a parent, you have less ‘me time’, and you need to ensure you find the time for self-care.

    I'm lucky to have contact with people outside my household because talking with my colleagues is a big part of my job. I'm constantly in online meetings, chatting away. Even though it’s through a screen, it helps me feel connected.  

    Sandro: Leaving the house helps me unwind and stay focused. Spending too much time glued to a screen takes a toll on me physically and mentally. Most people can relate to that. I try to walk at lunchtime, even if it’s just for a couple of minutes. 

    Some parents (particularly fathers) fear that working from home might negatively affect their prospects for career advancement. Have either of you experienced that?

    Julia: In Germany, the expectation is typically that after maternity leave, women return part-time. Many people were quite surprised when I decided to return full-time. It almost felt like I was surpassing expectations. It seems like a different story for men… 

    Sandro: I took a year off from work when my wife returned to her job after having our baby. In my experience, many people still think men should focus on their careers while women should take care of the family. It's weird because Germany is one of the few countries that allows dads to take significant time off to be with their children. 

    The main problem is how men see themselves. They might feel like they're not being 'manly' if they care for their kids. But let me tell you, looking after a baby is challenging!

    Thinking about your experience working remotely and parenting at the same time, what have you learned that you'd share with other parents doing the same thing? 

    Julia: This brings us back to what we were talking about earlier. Remote work sometimes blurs the lines between work and family. Parents, want to juggle work and parenting without dropping the ball, but we sometimes push it too far.

    I used to cherish lunch breaks, but now I feel the need to cram in work in case I need to pick up my kid early. We're constantly trying to prove ourselves, even during downtime. New parents should avoid feeling like they need to prove themselves again.

    Sandro: One piece of advice I’d give is to be completely honest with your colleagues or manager about your situation. For example, if your child is unwell, be upfront and say my child's sick. I have to deal with this. Pretending everything is ok doesn't help anyone. And you know what? People get it. They understand. 

    What can companies do better to help working parents like you? 

    Julia: I think what Sandro said about being able to communicate openly with your manager is very important. I feel comfortable letting my team know that I need to lean on them when there’s something urgent happening at home. Not every company has this, but being able to share personal stuff without judgment is critical, especially for parents. Trust is key. Businesses need to create a culture where parents feel empowered to speak up if they need support.    

    Sandro: Making changes to physical office spaces is also important. Simple adjustments, like wider entrances for strollers and designated breastfeeding rooms, can make a big difference to the everyday experiences of parents. Some bigger companies also offer daycare services. Imagine how much easier it would be to bring your child to the office and have someone to look after them. 

    Any last words? 

    Sandro: It's great that we had this talk. It should happen more often. These conversations help break down barriers and normalize the experiences of working parents. 

    Julia: I agree. Sharing our experiences with others contributes to a more supportive and inclusive work culture. I hope reading this conversation is helpful to some working parents out there.

    Thank you both for taking the time to do this interview.

    – Interview conducted by Tim McHutchison  

    Julia Gottschalk

    Senior Social Media Manager at TeamViewer

    Julia Gottschalk is a Senior Social Media Manager at TeamViewer. She has a background in public relations and digital communications. The German name might fool you, but Julia grew up in Brazil’s largest city, São Paulo. Julia has lived in Brazil, United States, and now resides in Germany with her husband and small son where she impatiently awaits the summertime.

    Sandro Cocca

    Senior Content Marketing Manager at TeamViewer

    Sandro Cocca is a Senior Content Marketing Manager at TeamViewer. With a background in journalism, PR, and content marketing, he is passionate about new technologies like AI and how they impact the way we communicate. Based in the Black Forest, in his spare time you'll find him practicing martial arts, reading the classics of philosophy and literature, or playing with his son.

    Tim McHutchison

    Content Marketing Manager at TeamViewer

    Tim is a Content Marketing Manager at TeamViewer. With a background in various technology-based marketing roles, Tim enjoys staying on top of industry trends and creating content that resonates with tech enthusiasts. Based in Berlin, he can be found jogging in Grunewald, bike riding, or watching basketball in his spare time.