May 19, 2021

Back to Work Plan: How Parents Feel About WFO

As a parent, have you figured out your back to work plan? Back to work planning for parents is complicated. Parents have to figure out their comfortability returning to the office, and also navigate uncertainty with childcare and schooling. Schools are starting to reopen in Philadelphia. Many are operating in a hybrid-learning environment in which children spend a couple days at school and the remaining days learning at home under parent supervision. 

Additionally, only one vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19) has been approved for children over 12 years of age, and none have been approved for children under 12 years of age. This leaves many vaccinated parents unsure about their children’s’ safety in school settings. 

However, there are some positives about the back to work plan for parents. First, heading back to the office allows parents to focus solely on work. This past year, many parents took on the responsibility of teacher, IT specialist, and lunch coordinator, in addition to 9-5 workers. Returning to the office provides a much-needed reprise. 

Second, the hybrid work model is flexible so that parents can match their schedules to their kids’ hybrid learning environments. Even if the hybrid model is temporary, the added flexibility is welcomed by parents. 

And finally, companies are increasing mental health resources following the pandemic that will benefit parents. 

Dial Into Work, Drive Effective Results 

First, returning to the office helps parents focus solely on work. After playing multiple roles over the past year, parents can dial in and drive effective results in the office. While some WFH employees have home offices or dedicated quiet spaces, some shared a kitchen table with partners and children. Having a back to work plan means dedicated space to work and increase productivity. 

For those parents who enjoy working from home, business leaders should consider ways to design the office space to include those home-office trends. In fact, one of the 2021 office renovation trends is blending work space with home space in the “home environment”. Read more about this design trend in our blog post.

Offices shouldn’t be cold and uninviting. The working environment should entice parents to come into the office. It should embody your corporate culture. Is your workplace boosting employee morale and productivity? Get in touch with Formcraft today to talk about your next office design or renovation project. 

Flexible Work Schedules to Fit Hybrid Learning 

The hybrid working model combines working from home (WFH) with working from the office (WFO). While it’s not a new concept, it’s become widely popularized in the pandemic’s aftermath. An evolution of the workplace, hybrid working provides for flexibility for parents. It also eases the transition back to work. 

Back to work plan means back to some semblance of normalcy for families. Couples can spend time apart, parents can take their children to back school, and children can see their parents back in workday routines. However, the world will not go back to “normal” overnight.

More and more companies are turning to the hybrid work model and building remote work into their workplace strategies to incentivize employees. In a survey about the future of remote work, employers say that the percentage of full-time employees working from home will be three times larger after the pandemic than before. 

But, that doesn’t mean the office has become obsolete. The purpose of the office will just change. 

Many parents will use the office on days when their children are in school to reconnect and collaborate with colleagues. The office will also be a functional focus space for someone who has children learning remotely and the luxury of a partner or nanny advising at home. Or, if a parent cannot coordinate childcare for their digital learner at home, parents can WFH—thanks to the hybrid work model. 

Business leaders are working to address the unique needs of their employees. For any leader looking to assess their workforce on WFO/WFH preferences, the purpose of the office, or any design changes needed to accommodate safety regulations, Formcraft offers WorkforceDiagnostics™. Our data-driven assessment helps businesses build workplace strategies for the evolving workplace. Learn more about WorkforceDiagnostics™ today!

Prioritize Mental Health, Improve Employee Happiness 

When it comes down to well-being, parents have had a mixed review on working from home. A study released that while 71 percent of dads said working from home boosted well-being, only 41 percent of moms agreed. 

The workplace has to support mental health and normalize mental health during the workday to support parents. Businesses can provide office perks such as these three options from a recent news article

  1. Subsidizing online exercise classes, gym memberships and mental health programs. 
  2. Providing outdoor video chats with therapists and “walk-and-talks” with mental health professionals.
  3. Considering employee assistance programs. 

The way the office is designed can also support mental health. By providing breakout rooms or privacy booths (like our client Tenneco), parents can make private calls with their children as they transition back to the office. They can also use that private space to decompress and prioritize mental health. 

Additionally, laptop-centric office designs, as compared to set desks with desktop computers, work well for the hybrid work style. Parents can easily grab their laptop at the end of the day to WFH and then bring it in the next day to WFO. Relying on agile workstations also eases the transition back to work as parents became accustomed to moving around the house when working from home. 

Another design element that supports mental health is updating shared spaces, such as the break room or kitchen. Given the past year, employees may be more concerned about cleanliness in shared spaces. Add a sanitizing dishwasher, develop cleaning schedules for the microwave and refrigerator, and invest in a water bottle filling station to encourage healthy habits and hydration. 

If you need guidance on return to work planning or preparing your office for a safe return, get in touch with us today!