Well, it’s day number who-even-knows of the COVID-19 quarantine, and let me just say, it’s an interesting time.  My wife and I both already worked for Kronos remotely, but we have a young son and are now trying to navigate working with him at home as well during the day. This is something I’m sure many can relate to right now. It comes with challenges – in fact, if we’re being real, it’s tough. Really tough.  So it got me thinking about effective ways to engage as a community of remote workers and more importantly with our families since we’re all together until further notice.

When I was a kid, both my parents worked full-time. My mother worked for a university and my father was a small business owner. When baseball cards and sports memorabilia were all the rage, my dad decided to open a shop. With two parents working, until I was able to be at home by myself, I spent a lot of time at my dad’s shop. After school, I went to the shop.  When I was sick, I was at the shop. It was like my second home. Looking back, I realize I learned much more there than I thought at the time.

That was my unique situation when I was a kid, and for children now I’m sure that the current state of affairs is having a similar impact on how they perceive the world. In light of what’s going on, how can we continue to teach the next generation and provide them with unique opportunities to develop and grow?  Well, now that many of us are working remote, it’s the perfect time to teach the next generation some practical skills through a kind of non-traditional “Take your kid to work day.”

The goal is to make it fun but more importantly invest in your family, teach some simple life lessons to positively impact the next generation, and of course stay productive with our regular day jobs in the process.  Here are some ideas that you as an HR professional can implement yourself and pass on to your employees:

Teaching the next generation while working remotely concept

7 teaching opportunities during the remote workday

  1. Have every hour of the day scheduled.  You know your child’s attention span, so accommodate the schedule and “working hours” accordingly.  Be sure to generate excitement and work in plenty of breaks.
  2. Set a “meeting” over breakfast while you enjoy your coffee.  Do your best to pique their interest and find something relatable in your job that would help apply it to your child’s life. Begin by giving them a sense of the business world. Provide an explanation of what your company does, what you do to contribute, and explain how when you do your job, it makes money for the company in specific ways and pays you.  This could also be used as a great time to talk about budgeting and the importance of managing money properly.
  3. Set goals for your child to accomplish that day.  Spend a few minutes trying to teach them 3 to 5 things about your job.  Encourage them to ask questions and make sure you answer them. Relate to your specific areas of expertise with these tasks so you can explain them well – who knows, maybe you’ll get a new perspective on something you’re dealing with that you hadn’t considered based on what your child comes up with.
  4. If a problem comes up, ask your child to brainstorm with you.  Foster creativity and be open to any idea.  Converse about why each idea is important, and emphasize that when you try new things, failure is okay and is in fact an important part of getting to the right answer to a problem.
  5. If possible, let them listen in on and contribute to phone calls or meetings. This will help them understand the importance of collaboration, being a part of a team, and respecting others. Keep them involved. Even if they can’t participate directly, you can debrief with them after they shadow you on a call or meeting. Another beneficial side effect here is that if your child is engaged in what you’re doing, it may help minimize disruptions during the meetings you need to attend from home.
  6. Embrace technology. I get it, we have to monitor “screen time.” The situation right now is different. Use technology to allow your kid to take notes, use the webcam for meetings, or let them navigate the systems you use for your job like your email applications, team productivity software, or document management systems.  You can even go as far as setting up an email to send them calendar invites and receive notifications about upcoming meetings or events.
  7. Lastly, recap the day.  Discuss with them what they learned, what they liked or didn’t like, and even what you yourself could improve on. Kids are unconventional thinkers – you might find some great ideas through this process that you can apply in your day-to-day.

Conclusion: Making the most of your new normal

Going back to the memory of my dad’s shop, I remember the first time I made a sale. I negotiated with the customer, I set the price, and they bought the item. It was exhilarating. Leading up to that point, I was taught how to use a cash register, make change, and the importance of sweeping the floors. If you plan ahead and keep it fun, you can help prepare your kids for the realities of the working world too while also helping them understand the time you dedicate to your job responsibilities each day.

Although our situations may be different in the current moment, it’s hectic times like these where we can come together and invest some of our time to teach the next generation about business, remote work, and the skills they’ll need to succeed in the future.  I’m certainly thankful my parents took the time to teach me something new, and I’m sure your employees would be grateful for some tips on how to do that for their own children. Stay safe out there, and feel free to share these tips with co-workers at your organization as we all balance our new mostly remote work life.

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Published: Monday, March 23, 2020