My co-workers look very different these days. I’m sure yours do as well. My daughters, 8 and 13 years old, and husband and I have been on lockdown in Chicago since early March. The last time I spent this much time with people in their demographics was when I was in grade school. Instead of back-to-back meetings, client lunches and strategy meetings exclusively, I now look at my “office mates” and see my 8-year-old daughter working on adding and subtracting (I’ll teach her the finer points about ACR and real-time ad decisioning soon, I'll bet). She’s at the kitchen counter in what truly is an open office plan.
The other vertical in this space are my two 160-pound dogs, snoring very loudly as I try to lead my Nielsen Advanced Video Advertising team through this new way to work. As much as I try to create a daily routine for all of us, I have had to let go of a time schedule with my kids and focus more on what needs to get done.
This is a new normal that none of us could have ever predicted or prepared for. So, how do we manage it all? On the eLearning front, here are some tips that worked in my home:
Don’t Expect Perfection: Focus on a daily routine of what needs to be accomplished versus a timed schedule. By creating a list of goals daily, setting aside 10 to 15 minutes to get the morning going and an afternoon daily wrapup, you and your child can share in the list of accomplishments you have both achieved and hold each other accountable. Kids love to help enforce the rules!
Establish Some Routine: Make it clear to your children when you need to do your work and when they need to do their own work. I know this can be much more challenging for those with younger kids, but during those times, have them engage in reading a book or listening to a podcast to inspire more scientific thinking and innovative tinkering at home, “Wow in the World” is a great resource for this.
Bring Fun Into eLearning: Find ways to encourage their creativity and thinking, one thing we have done at my house is to allow my kids to use our front glass door like a dry-erase board, our girls list their goals for the day or my youngest has had fun writing out her math problems and solving them with her sister’s help. Think of ways you can create a safe and fun environment for them — this will only encourage them to want to lean in as well.
Don’t Forget Breaks Are Important: Your kids don’t need to finish all of their learning in one setting. Balance activities to make sure kids have breaks. And just as important for your own sanity, schedule in work breaks so you and your kids can have some time to unwind. I understand some countries and cities have rules on being outdoors, but if you are able to take a walk in your neighborhood or go on a bike ride, it can be very beneficial. This is a great way to remove your own anxiety and stress this new “WFH” environment is likely creating for you as well. Don’t worry, there is no 9 to 5 or typical school day anymore!
Kids Are Social Creatures: Don’t forget that your kids need social interaction and space away from us to develop and grow. For younger kids, schedule virtual playdates where maybe they can play a board game or card game over Facetime or watch a kid’s movie together with their friends. For the older kids, allow them to do virtual hangouts with their friends over their social media platform of choice. Make sure they are staying in touch with friends, this is just as important as you staying in touch and connected as well.
So, when you find yourself feeling overwhelmed managing your new “WFH” reality, take a step back. Reach out to your friends and colleagues and ask them for advice or help, as likely they are feeling the same stress too. By all of us being more vulnerable, the level of trust we will have as a Nielsen business will continue to go higher as we are humanized to all of the people around us. In the end, just remember, we are all learning some very valuable lessons together on how to weather a crisis and come out on the other side stronger, and this may be the most important lesson your kids will ever learn as well.
The irony is a global pandemic might have moved co-workers apart, but when this is all over and done with, I think we’ll be a lot closer as colleagues and recapture the true insurgents in all of us.