Survey Shows Parents Are Feeling the Pressure of Remote Work — and Could Use More Support

While acknowledging that everyone's winging it, parents are feeling even more workplace stress at home.

by Dan Robitzski

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Welcome to, depending on where you live, month ten of the pandemic! If you, like the people who write articles on the internet, find yourself with a job that went fully remote to avoid COVID-19 transmission, then you’re all too familiar with the fact that work, school, and play all now happen in the same place.

No one needs to tell you that that’s tough, but you might want to know that shockingly few seem to have the routine down pat so far. We polled parents who find themselves working from home nowadays about how it was going. The overall trend? Not all that great.

As so many now grapple with the realities and challenges of actively parenting — entertaining the kids, making sure they’re paying attention to online lessons, so on and so forth —meeting deadlines at work and staying focused has grown difficult. When it came time to pivot to an everything-from-home lifestyle at the start of the pandemic, 33 percent of respondents said they felt completely unprepared and another 38 percent said they were at most “somewhat” prepared. Meanwhile, challenges like being able to readily focus on work while being pulled in every direction at once dominated what people felt were the biggest challenges of the past nine-and-change months.

Of course, most poll respondents also got that everyone had to figure this out at the same time and, by and large, they said they were content with executives’ and even more with managers’ ability to empathize with parents’ new, unique situation.

But all that said, there are still lots of ways where parents — or, at least, 61 percent of them — say they could use a hand.

Parents Are Understanding But Could Use Some Help

Over one-third of parents surveyed said that they were content with the support offered by their company. That’s encouraging, but it also suggests that plenty of folks are being left to sort this all out on their own.

A solid 40 percent said that they got some help, perhaps not even being sure what more they could have expected of their employers, but the rest — nearly one in four — said that they expected or wanted more.

At the very least, that could even be the acknowledgment that this year has been a momentous shift — and that despite our best efforts, things have not been business as usual. That’s important, because…

Staying Home Has Working Parents Putting Even More Pressure On Themselves

How do you convince your boss that you’re still keeping your end of the deal when they can’t stop by and ask for those TPS reports? That’s the big challenge, and it seems that most parents have arrived at the answer of “be on call at all times lest they appear idle.”

The responses to this question were almost perfectly split between people who do feel more pressured than normal to put in face time at work — to make sure they appear diligent and busy — and those who don’t.

But in a perfect world, there’d be way more people saying no. There’d be much fewer people saying they suddenly feel even more pressure to keep up appearances at work while also staying on top of everything going on at home and, you know, coping with the deadly pandemic still spreading unabated through the U.S.

To Keep Up Appearances, Parents Are Never Logging Off

While getting rid of commutes might seem like a godsend, 36 percent of poll respondents said they’re working longer hours than ever. And even when they’re not working, 43 percent said they still make themselves available online to coworkers, 24 percent say they’re skipping meals, and another 22 percent don’t log off even when they’re sick.

All that just so that those parents can always appear to be present to their managers and bosses, even if there’s no good reason to be or if doing so actually makes them less productive.

Keeping Up Appearances Leaves Parents With All Work, No Anything Else

An extremely lucky minority, just 5 percent of respondents, claim that they don’t feel stressed or burned out at work. But for those who do, there seem to be very few resources available. A disturbing 61 percent — 477 people — said that they have no time left in the day to address their own well-being. Just over 5 percent say that they have to access mental healthcare resources through work, but nearly as many say they’re paying for it out of pocket.

But despite those dire numbers, it seems that most parents don’t really plan to go back to how things were.

A Lot Of Parents Say They’re Never Going Back

So, what about when this is all over? Who’s rearing to get back to office life and work free of other distractions, and who’s perhaps wondering whether offices are worth it after all?

It’s a surprisingly-even split among “send me back” and “absolutely not,” with a massive undecided camp claiming the majority.

Maybe there’s a difference between not racing back to the office right away until we’re sure that the pandemic is behind us and never returning at all. But either way, it should be clear that our offices won’t look how they used to, and keeping an appropriate distance from each other will be easy with the smaller crowds.

And Yet, Staying Home Means Staying Put

Still, even with an undefined but probably lengthy bout of remote work ahead of us, just over 78 percent of respondents say they’re not even considering relocating to a new area.

And even among the group of people who are thinking of moving to a new area, only about one quarter think it’s a feasible consideration. The rest say that they don’t know if they’ll risk their jobs by doing so, should they be called back into the office.

For those who feel tethered to their current homes, it’s not clear whether it’s their kids’ school, proximity to family, or personal finances that are keeping them in place. But it’s still interesting — and it should be of interest to employers looking for ways to improve their employees’ job conditions — that the vast majority feel like it’s not even a choice.