I have spoken to several businesses recently, some quite large, who are delighted with their transition to work from home which on the face of it sounds great. A seamless transition with some companies not returning to the office until Summer 2021 at the earliest. Google is one of those to advise that their workforce can work from home until July 2021. Facebook has extended the work from home policy the same, advising workers can work from home until July 2021 too (Tech Crunch)
But it got me thinking – is work from home really working? Yes, the nuts and bolts and technicalities make work possible. The results and functions that, let’s be honest, have been available for years (Zoom was released in 2013, for example), but we chose not to allow work from home in most cases. Why? Because we value human interaction in the workplace. We value the natural collisions of ideas and business, and (maybe!) we know people can’t slack off, they can’t skive off work if they are in work!
The ability to work from home is great, if managed correctly. It doesn’t take much scratching below the surface of the functioning technicalities of doing our jobs that we start to see some cracks.
Those that know me and the Dads In Business project know that it is born from personal experiences of working for myself and the challenges of juggling that with the raising of three kids who at time of writing at 6 and half, almost 4 and close to 2. It goes without saying it’s had its moments! The experience of lockdown and the overnight ‘switching off the lights’ at work for 3 months has added certain levels of complexity and thoughts around the Dad’s project and we are keen to explore more about what the impact of Covid-19 is on Dad’s in the workplace.
What did we want to know?
Well, the Dad Gap identifies that what the general perception is for men and Dads in the workplace is a little different to the reality we uncover when the research delves a little below the surface.
Like many, I don’t have a dedicate office space at home. I am lucky in the respect I have a small desk space in the bedroom at home which afforded me the opportunity to build a small work station but this wasn’t detached from my home life in anyway: My desk wasn’t in a dedicated office, the WiFi was sapped by the kids streaming Netflix and the fact it was in my bedroom meant that when I woke up in the night or as the kids woke me up early in the morning, my first waking view was one of my desk, thus meaning my first thought was one of work.
Myself and Angga, my Dads In Business colleague who runs the brilliant Men Up North project wanted to know how Dads have been affected by Covid-19 in terms of the outward-facing ‘everything’s fine’ mentality versus the inward reality of what it’s really like to be a Dad working from home whilst juggling the multiple roles we are responsible for.
We developed our own Covid-19 response survey geared to ask open questions that guide real and open feedback. The initial data set has returned some intriguing results and has fuelled the development of the research with the support of University Of Sheffield graduates to really explore the issues raised and to raise the profile in the workplace to identify commonality from our initial data set, wider trends and opportunities to support the Dad’s network.
What does the initial data suggest?
We were unsure what to expect or what to hope for on the return of the survey. The data set we collated was a broad sweep of Dads from as far away as India and the West Coast of the US. The qualitative feedback has some common themes while the quantitative work shows some startling feedback that shows by lightly scratching the surface from what is perceived to be working well (work from home), may require some need of urgent attention.
The headlines and key summary points from the first round of reporting can be seen in the graphic below. Please feel free to download this infographic and share with your networks or workplace.
How can we help and how can you access the full report?
The Dads In Business Discovery session is designed for businesses to open up the discussion around Dad specific topics of support. We welcome all the workforce to join these sessions to bring a level of discussion to the group and show our thoughts.
Feedback from the sessions is wholly positive with 100% of those who attend seeing it as a useful spend of their time and the requests for more events like this are commonplace.
The opportunity to embrace modern ways of working can and should also lend themselves to helping engage, inspire and help the workplace.
We are more than happy to share the full report with you that shares the feedback and insights from our initial round of responses. We are now moving in to phase two and looking to work with employers who are moving to more work from home base or looking to offer flexible working.
We build sessions around topics that are specific and relevant to improving workplace productivity, efficiency and engagement along with helping the Dads be the best they can be at home too.