The Covid-19 Balancing Act: Supporting Working Parents

The Covid-19 Balancing Act: Supporting Working Parents

The Covid-19 pandemic has presented working parents with a difficult juggling act, balancing the demands of childcare whilst continuing to fulfil their responsibilities at work. However, there are some positives in the workplace that can be taken forward as a result of Covid-19. The pandemic has forced visibility of the work and family juggle, and shown that home working is demonstrably possible in many more jobs than before; certainly, those that are desk based.

This experiment in mass remote working has helped to break down deep-rooted barriers meaning that employees now have ‘permission’ to be a parent at work. We shared feedback from our latest policy survey in our webinar, Learning From Mass Remote Working During Covid-19, on how adjustments to remote and flexible working could also make a positive impact on the approach to gender equality. When asking how employees had felt a change in the impact on changing attitudes and practices with regard to traditional gender roles and expectations in the home and at work, there was evidence that perceptions of gender roles are shifting, but it was is not the experience for the majority. There was a significant proportion of those members we surveyed (22%) who felt that things are starting to change positively though. There is much recognition that men have a role to play in family life but there were also observations shared that senior staff did not understand ‘what it’s really like’ because they had wives at home who were not working and could take full responsibility for childcare. It is therefore crucial to identify relatable role models and share their experiences publicly within the organisation as this can have a positive and empowering impact.

During our webinar last week, The Covid-19 Balancing Act: Supporting Working Parents, Working Families shared their latest research and insights that highlighted the 9-5 working model is clearly outdated, with the Right to Request Flexible Working benefitting from review as current legislation states employers have three months in which to respond to an employee’s application and even then can still refuse.

Through surveying their member organisations, it is felt there is a real opportunity for employers to look at job design, it has been proven that a rapid response can support part-time and flexible working and there are a number of approaches that can continue to make positive changes in the workplace.

What are other organisations doing?

Our members shared examples such as providing access to work laptops or subsidies for new personal laptops and offering additional discretionary paid leave available to use on a flexible basis. We also received feedback about organisations considering reductions in daily/weekly hours and workloads.

Santander share their approach:
  • Understanding the importance of recognising that whilst some colleagues may thrive in a remote working environment, do not take a “one size fits all” approach
  • Continue to be practical, flexible and sensitive to individual colleague situations putting in place practical support to adjust to new working patterns
  • Review existing wellbeing resources, they’ve added a live text chat coaching service with qualified psychologists to existing wellbeing app.

EY shared theirs:

  • Moved all 17,000 employees to home-workers and accelerated the planned roll out of Microsoft Teams
  • Extended provision of Special Leave for caring responsibilities, from one week to two weeks. This leave can be taken in blocks of days or less depending on need
  • Created a fortnightly newsletter that features EY employees stories
  • Set up virtual yoga and mindfulness sessions
  • Retain the visibility of family life at work

Practical tools and further support?

Slides and policy results from our webinar 'Learning From Mass Remote Working During Covid-19' on are available to members.

Cityworks' Best practice checklists 'Practical support to line managers during Covid-19' and 'Maintaining employee morale and productivity during COVID-19'.
Working Families: COVID-19 and flexible working: the perspective from working parents and carers

Join us for our next webinar on 'How to manage remote recruitment' – register here.

Cityparents has a developed a wealth of online materials to support City professionals including webinars, advice and sharing of stories.

Written by Kate Moerel, Network Lead. 


Category: Expert Advice

Released On 22nd Jun 2020

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