Does Your Remote Team Need a Childcare Policy?
Though there are many advantages to remote work, there are just as many misconceptions. One common belief is that working from home means you can attend to child or elder care at the same time.
However, this often isn’t the case. While the two are compatible, it’s nearly impossible to do both. And while you may trust your staff to balance the two, if you don’t have a caregiving policy, you may find staff and managers are equally frustrated and disappointed.
Why You Need a Caregiver Policy
No matter how flexible you and your company are, there are benefits to having a caregiver policy in place.
The problem with working and caregiving is that the two often don’t mix. It’s hard to get your work done when someone needs help with their juice box (again!).
A caregiving policy defines how you expect staff to balance work and home. This can give them the autonomy to do what’s best for them while outlining what the company requires and how you will measure their performance.
Helps Retain and Recruit
Implementing a caregiving policy reinforces that you have an inclusive and caring company culture. It acknowledges that anyone can face caregiving challenges and that the company recognizes work-life balance is essential to having happy and productive staff.
Given the demand for flexibility and balance from today’s workers, your caregiver policy can help you retain staff that might otherwise take a leave of absence or quit due to caregiving responsibilities. And it can also help you attract top talent for your open positions.
Though legally your company is not required to accommodate caregiving requests, not doing so potentially opens you up to discrimination claims. A written caregiving policy can help avoid these issues by providing clear guidance to managers and staff around caregiving concerns.
What to Include in a Caregiving Policy
Any caregiving policy will be unique to the demands of your company and possibly specific roles, but it should consider the following areas.
Decide If and When It’s Required
The first thing to decide is whether or not you require staff to have care during their work hours. While some companies can allow flexible hours or have a results-only environment, not all companies or roles can have the same flexibility.
For example, a coder may not interact with clients or need much time every week to collaborate with staff. Because they can likely perform their work whenever and wherever suits them, the role likely doesn’t need additional caregiving assistance.
However, a customer support representative spends most if not all day interacting with customers. Even if it’s via chat or email, they need uninterrupted focus time to do their work and likely need someone to help with caregiving responsibilities.
Long before the pandemic upended things, “caregiving” had many definitions. For example, someone with tweens likely doesn’t need full-time childcare five days a week. However, that same person may need more flexibility when that child is at home sick for a day or even a few weeks. This is different than someone who is caring for an elderly relative or young child all the time.
Create a caregiver policy that clearly defines what “care” means and what that means for staff. For example, if someone is taking care of a relative who’s recovering from surgery for a few weeks, does that person need to hire an outside caregiver to help out? What flexibility does a manager have to adjust that person’s work hours?
Use Inclusive Language
Though you can make having reliable care a requirement of the role or a general workplace policy, use inclusive language to ensure you aren’t discriminating.
For example, while women often shoulder more childcare responsibilities than men, use gender-neutral pronouns when writing about caregiving policies.
No matter the situation, employees need their employers’ support and assistance to get the job done. That means providing them with the tools that can help ensure success.
For example, using project management tools helps the team stay up to date on their tasks and everyone else’s. And because these updates can be made asynchronously, caregivers can get their work done when it best suits them while keeping the team in the loop. Likewise, having access to a synchronous tool (like Slack) helps teams coordinate real-time communications and keep track of who’s available and who is not.
Finally, just like your remote company is flexible, your caregiver policy should be flexible. You never know when things will drastically change, so having a policy that’s adaptable and empowers managers and staff to make the best choices for them ensures your staff can keep the business moving no matter what happens.
Creating a caregiving policy will help give everyone at your company clarity about what’s expected of them and how you plan to support staff balancing work and caregiving duties. And with the right policies in place, you’re creating a flexible and supportive culture that can help you retain and attract top talent.
For more advice on running a remote company, check out our Q and A’s.
By Rachel Pelta | Categories: Remote Management