For many people, returning to work after parental leave normally means settling your baby into a new child care routine and heading back into an office to work alongside a team.
The impact of Covid-19 has left parents with limited child care options and returning to work now means working from home, indefinitely for now.
If you’re returning to work in the coming weeks and months and you know you’re going to need to negotiate role and care plans differently, then these tips are designed to make the return to work experience an easier one.
Consider Your Ideal Return to Work
– How do you envisage working from home? What will you need to set yourself up for success?
– What flexible hours / days will you need to work that will fit with your family commitments and care arrangements?
– What will be the potential challenges you anticipate or ‘trade offs’ you’ll need to consider, to ensure your return to work is manageable?
Seek Family Support
Talk to your partner and family about planning your return to work:
– Discuss what you hope to gain and what working arrangements you’d like.
– How you are feeling about the prospect of returning to work?
– What support do you need and what changes do you anticipate once you’ve returned to work?
Get their feedback; listen to their comments and suggestions.
Discuss Options with Your Manager
Consider your manager and team needs. Think about both of your needs and how it could work to your mutual advantage.
– What concerns may they have about you returning to work in a flexible capacity and how might these concerns be alleviated?
– How could you structure your job tasks / responsibilities to accommodate flexible work options e.g. could you job share, have flexible start and finish times, what work could be done from home etc.? Write down all the possible options that match your needs and consider how these will impact you and your family.
– Create a shortlist of the best options that fit with your needs.
– Ask your manger to ‘trial’ a flexible working arrangement for a period of time to see how things go; revise as required.
Consider the Financial Impact of Returning to Work
– Look at the costs that will be associated with your return to work, such as child care and transport, impact of reduced hours etc.
– Prepare a weekly budget of the likely costs versus likely income.
– If required, seek help from a professional financial planner or accountant.
Review Your Child Care Needs and Options
Available child care subsidies are ever-changing due to COVID-19.
– Stay abreast of your childcare options and rebates at https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/child-support.
– Consider a few care options so that you have a back-up plan if your first preference isn’t available.
– Be realistic and balance your own care expectations and needs with that of others.
– If it’s likely you’re going to need to work from home and care for your child in the home at the same time, it’s important to establish and work and care plan and pattern that will be manageable for you, your child and your work team.
– If you live with a partner, consider how you will share the care arrangements whilst you’re working and agree a care plan together.
Refresh Your Skills and Knowledge
– If you are concerned that your professional knowledge and skills have waned in the time you have been off work, seek ways to refresh your knowledge.
– You might do this by enrolling in refresher courses, contacting industry associations to get connected to your profession again.
– Ask your manager to send you copies of relevant company and department strategy and objective plans and news before you start back at work.
Learn from Other Parents who have Returned to Work
– Contact other parents you know who have returned to work, ask how they returned to work and what helpful tips they could share with you.
– Speak to your work colleagues; particularly those who are working parents who can share their return to work tips.
Parents At Work have a number of resources to support parents with their return to work including courses, webinars, podcasts, toolkits and more.
Check out our Free Parental Leave Essentials Podcast.