Blog June 25th, 2021

by Nortal

Work-Life Balance at Nortal

With a remote workforce being the norm over the past year, achieving work-life balance while parenting can be a challenge. We gathered insight from leaders with children including Justen Britain, Technical Director, and Alexis Kroshko, Financial Controller, on their tips for achieving a healthy work-life balance.

What has been your biggest challenge about achieving work-life balance while being a parent? What about the biggest reward?

Regardless of the pandemic, it takes a lot of mental energy to work with clients, and that can then take away how much energy is given to family life. Not being as patient with kids, pets, or your spouse can be a challenge because it should be backwards – family should get 100%. Striking a  balance can be hard to achieve. It can also be challenging sharing parenting responsibilities while one adult is working in the home and another outside the home.

As far as reward goes, it is seeing things click and getting to experience children as they grow into who they are, since each child is different. Seeing their minds work in motion is so rewarding, especially during the pandemic when we have had more time at home with them.

What tools or tactics have been most helpful for you to stay productive?

One eye-opening tool is utilizing an Outlook calendar to block time for work tasks. It’s easy for calendars to get overwhelmed with meetings, so setting aside time for completing critical tasks can help with prioritization.

A big piece of staying productive in a management position isn’t necessarily a tool but a tactic – cutting yourself some slack. It can feel exhausting not seeing instant results from a leadership role. While the output might not be seen for a week or month like with individual contributor work, the trade-off is worth it. Another tip is to take some management tactics and apply them at home. For example, we schedule weekly meetings with employees, so start scheduling time every week with your family. The whole structure we provide at work can also be helpful at home.

Both of you are leaders at Nortal. How have you tried to be supportive or flexible with parents on your team during this time?

Being flexible with time at work to allow breaks during the day is crucial. As long as things are getting done in a timely manner and deadlines are met, employees should be encouraged to create a schedule that is best for them.

The best way to provide flexibility is by doubling down on communication, especially with clients to make sure they are perceiving us in a positive way. For example, an engineer on the team had a baby at the start of the pandemic, so he was working 10pm-2am on a daily basis. He would make sure to communicate with his internal team and the clients around his schedule and it went really well. It was all about setting expectations and managing the perceptions.

When the pandemic first hit, there were a lot of professionals who had anxiety around children and working remotely, especially around noises on video calls. We all wanted to have the same level of professionalism and this was an unrealistic expectation. For all of us, family is why we go to work – so hiding that is almost against why we work in the first place. Giving space to allow children to be present in meetings can be a relief for employees since the lines are blurred between work and home.

Has having the flexibility to work from home helped you balance parenting and work? If so, how?

On one hand, yes – because we are at home most of the time and we can guide our children through various situations. Before the pandemic, it would have been another caregiver essentially parenting children during the day so now it is extremely valuable to be able to work from home.

On the other hand, no. Prior to the pandemic, there was a buffer period with the commute which was time to decompress and noodle on a few things. It may only be a short time, but it puts a hard line in the sand between work and home. Without that separation, there is little opportunity to slow down before switching over to home life which can take away patience with parenting.

What advice would you give to parents that are struggling with childcare and work responsibilities?

Asking your boss for flexible work hours is a great place to start because this will make a difference. Having specific hours is a huge sense of pressure with the unpredictability of children. Another piece of advice would be asking for flexibility in interactions with children. We let dogs into the workplace, so children should be welcome as well. Using your people skills to be open and communicative with children if they pop into video calls can ease the pressure of having a high level of professionalism.

How do you see work-life balance changing or staying the same after the pandemic?

Since productivity has increased during the pandemic, it may stay the same in terms of having that flexibility to work from home. However, it may not be healthy for everyone and some employees may say “I need to be in the office”. There is currently no decompression time between work and life so the near-term may be less positive. Long-term, the remote workforce is going to have positive benefits because new best practices will come to light. Once we learn the full evolution of a remote workforce, there will be a more positive impact on work-life balance.

Providing employees with the flexibility to navigate a post-pandemic workforce is imperative for keeping people happy. Nortal’s work from home policy allows our employees to work in an environment that is best for their needs. To learn more about life at Nortal, visit our career page.

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