Imperial College London

Imperial staff share their tips on working from home with children around

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child on play equipment

A child at Imperial's Early Years Education Centre, which is currently closed.

With schools and nurseries closed and the majority of staff working from home, Imperial staff share their tips on remote working without childcare.

Imperial has amended its HR policies to support staff [staff login] and Imperial’s leadership have recognised that staff may not be able to work as much as normal. 

While everyone’s situation is different and each family is unique, we wanted to share some tips and advice from staff who are working from home with children.  

Changes to working hours 

The top recommendation was to agree modified working hours with your line manager. 

“Taking shifts with your partner is key,” Jesse said. “My wife's work day starts later in the morning and ends later at night, so I take the early morning from 7-11am and then come back online again in the afternoon when our toddler naps. I also usually do some work in the evenings, too, after he goes to bed.  

“It was hard at first to switch on and off throughout the day, but we’ve now settled into a good routine,” Jesse continued. It’s really important to keep realistic expectations around what you can achieve in a day – it’s impossible to be as productive as you were in the office, so don’t take on too much and let your line manager know what’s realistic for you.” 

Hannah agreed: “We’ve both managed to agreed working hours with our line managers so that can we take it in shifts - I work from 8-11 and then 3-6 and do childcare in the middle - although I do also dip into emails and the odd call. 

“My tip would be to be clear with your line manager and yourself on the hours you’re able to do: work hard when you can but try and switch off and enjoy it when you’re not.” 

Mike has also worked out a shift pattern: “My partner is also still fulll-time, so we take it in turns to work 6am-2pm and the other one gets the kids out of bed, and tees them up with their schoolwork (everything is online, teachers doing Zoom classes and emailing-out other activities to keep them busy, they’re always face-timing their mates and crashing important calls), before doing a shorter work shift and making tea.” 

Keeping kids entertained 

Staff had lots of recommendations for activities to do with children, including: 

  • Lego, puzzles, playdough, magnets 
  • Reading stories 
  • Colouring books, sticker books, painting, craft projects 
  • Cooking 
  • Dancing, hula-hooping, cleaning the house 

Some staff recommended specific resources that had been helpful for their family:  

  • Cosmic Kids yoga on YouTube 
  • ‘The Wind in the Willows’ free full-length musical 
  • Worksheets from Twinkl.co.uk 

Hannah said: “I try and make sure she does some school work but I think it’s important to have fun - so far there has been lots of cooking and dancing and we have a large - and growing - collection of snails and worms in jam jars in the kitchen.” 

Jesse added: “We maximise our time outside to burn off some of that toddler energy – riding a scooter/bike or just running around. Impromptu dance parties also help – no one, not even a two-year-old, can resist dancing to Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’!” 

Katie’s family have a rough schedule for the day: “We try to do more educational stuff in the morning when we’re all feeling more awake and then allow more screen time / tv in the afternoons. We put the kids out in the garden every day at ten no matter what (except for rain or snow!) and we always do something vaguely crafty after lunch. Our former, fairly well-organised life is now a mash up – but we’re just taking each day as it comes and trying not to worry when we have a bad day and things don’t go to plan.” 

More resources for Imperial parents 

Reporter

Elizabeth Nixon

Elizabeth Nixon
Communications and Public Affairs

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Contact details

Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 6699
Email: e.nixon@imperial.ac.uk

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