New expectations for family life

Working at home has a whole new meaning when it’s coupled with children being home from school indefinitely. It has a whole new meaning because you might find yourself sitting on your son’s rocket bed with toys all around you, having a conference call with your senior leadership team and trying to accept this new normal.

You might find that the boundaries are anything but clear. When is it okay to interrupt you? What if your other half really needs your help with something? What if they’re trying to work too?

From the simplest of issues: many of us won’t have an office in our house (not one that’s bigger than a small closet anyway), to some more challenging ones – how do we deliver what we need to when we aren’t walking around our office with our finger on the pulse of every move?

These are, undoubtedly, unprecedented times. Never before has the world been so aware of crisis with up to the minute updates in our face constantly. Never before have we had the technology to allow us to potentially manage huge (and small) businesses from our homes. Never before has there been so much obvious uncertainty.

When it comes to how we are going to continue to be effective, we have to set some new boundaries. New norms. New expectations.

At work, this is already happening. We are learning quickly that we have too many means for communication and information, and our colleagues will be contacting us through every medium. They may find it important to email or message you every time a new idea pops into their heads that they would otherwise have run by you verbally. It will take time to reset expectations here but it is possible to clarify how we can communicate with each other in this new, (hopefully temporary), virtual world.

The greater pressure may be for many, the new expectations that have to be set in the family. I encourage you to:

  • Talk about new norms.
  • Discuss your needs and listen to the needs of your partner, your kids, and anyone else in your home.
  • Set expectations with each other – how much uninterrupted time do you need? How can you find a way to get that? What will mealtimes look like?
  • Understand that you will need to be flexible and agile, just as you are having to be with work.
  • Review your expectations and systems regularly. This is new territory for everyone so getting it right in the first instance is unlikely.

Finally, stay calm and manage your energy.  There is a lot of overwhelm happening in the world right now. The best defense you have is to take care of your immune system by reducing your stress levels, focusing your mindset on what you can do, eating well and moving regularly.

Resilience is, after all, how you respond to fear.


If you’d like to find out more, join the conversation in our next open workshop.