After a year of working from home while also homeschooling and being tech support for their children, many working parents are looking to return to the office – but with more flexibility.
Many companies have begun to reopen the doors of their offices as vaccines are being administered. As of March 2021, 10% of Manhattan workers were back in the office, according to a recent Partnership for New York City survey. This figure is expected to rise to 45% by the end of September.
Meanwhile, the success of remote work during COVID-19 has led many large companies to reconsider having their workforce working in the office full-time. Firms such as Facebook, Microsoft, and Salesforce have all publicly stated during the pandemic that they believe most of their offices will become either 100% remote or offer a hybrid working model in the coming years, while others are preparing for at least 80% of their staff to return to the office in a near full-time capacity in the next year.
Regardless of when your company expects ‘normalcy’ to resume, it’s clear that most employees – especially working parents – are looking for a more structured mix of working between the office and home.
Offices Are Open For Business. Are Employees Excited to Come Back?
Over one year after the start of the pandemic, it’s obvious that there are employees who are enjoying the remote work setup and others who can’t wait to return to their old cubicle in the office. Of those that fall into the latter category, a blurred work/home life balance and lack of social interaction are two of the core drivers for a return to the office.
While employees of all age groups and demographics will want to work from the office again, it is becoming abundantly clear that it won’t be in the same capacity that we’re used to. Harvard Business School discovered that 81% of workers in the U.S want a hybrid schedule going forward. This is particularly true for working parents – especially for mothers.
A global pandemic made many parents realize that working remotely from home, even for a portion of the week, is possible. For others, it also highlighted savings on travel costs, childcare services, and precious family time.
This has left many employers at a crossroads, but only if they are unwilling to adapt their return-to-office roadmap.
How COVID-19 Changed the Life of A Working Parent
One thing that many working parents want companies to understand is how much the COVID-19 pandemic changed family dynamics and the role of being a working parent. While it obviously reinforced the difficulties that come with juggling a career and family responsibilities, it also allowed parents to reconnect with their children.
The time that was once lost in busy city traffic jams is now spent keeping on top of the laundry, reading a story to their child, or preparing meals for the day ahead. Parents also don’t miss the panic-induced rush of trying to get out of the office on time so that they can collect their child from daycare.
Although many mothers left the workforce during the first wave of the pandemic due to a lack of childcare services, those that are working find the remote work model allows them to excel both in their professional and personal lives. The flexibility and autonomy they experienced in the last year offered the ability to enjoy a slower pace of life and appreciate the small moments with their children – ones they didn’t always have before.
Many working parents are now reluctant to give up the ability to work from home, especially if it means returning to a work schedule that took a toll on aspects of their family life.
Shape the Future of Workplaces By Offering Working Parents Flexibility
Employers now have an opportunity to reimagine their workplaces into one that is more reflective of an employee’s life. The difficulties of the pandemic highlighted that the life of a working parent will primarily be centered around their family life schedule.
Adopting a return-to-office plan that focuses on flexibility is key – it will give working parents the support they need to continue managing both aspects of their lives effectively. It will also accommodate those employees who may not be comfortable returning to the office until their children are vaccinated or until they have a clear idea of what their child’s school schedule will be or the availability of childcare programs in their local area.
Return-to-office roadmaps must focus on the long-term, big picture rather than offering a band-aid solution to a temporary pandemic phase.
People’s lives have changed dramatically – and the best organizations will be able to apply lessons learned during the last year to the future. Benefits such as flexible family leave policies, a hybrid work schedule, and an employer-sponsored child care assistance program will all play a vital role in helping employees return to a new post-pandemic workplace.
We Partner with Employers to Support Working Parents
Vivvi partners with employers of all sizes to make high-quality full-time and backup child care programs more accessible and affordable. We provide flexible early childhood learning services in your offices or through in-home care or virtual care. Vivvi meets the needs of your business and employees where you are.
To learn more about the benefits and ROI our child care services have provided to businesses like yours, visit our employer page.