How we work during lockdown

What support is available for me if I am juggling working with family/caring responsibilities?

Many people will have different home situations that they are adapting to during this period and this may be causing some levels of anxiety regarding work. The University understands that juggling family and work is even more of a challenge than usual when working from home. Please keep in frequent communication with your line manager about what is possible from a work perspective.

I am a parent/guardian

It is very difficult to home school while working and you are likely to need to fit in your work responsibilities before and after the school day.  The support you need to provide your children with  comes first, and the University understands that you may very well be working different hours to usual.  Please keep the communication lines open with your line manager and do share any concerns that you have.   

Structuring your day

If you do have children at home, it can be helpful to create a new structure that allows you to factor in scheduled times for work, exercise and fun along with some downtime for everyone in the household. It can be helpful to develop plans for getting up, managing household tasks etc to review them at the end of the week and make any necessary changes for the week ahead.

Build time for activities

For example, a large number of parents in the UK are getting involved with the 9am PE class with Joe Wicks, which is a great initiative for families.  If this is the case, push back your start time to 9.45am or start a little earlier and take a break at 9am to participate. There is a need for flexibility at this time and if your online calendar is up to date and your Cisco Jabber status shows when you are online or taking break people will soon get used to people’s different timetables. 

Explaining Coronavirus to children

If you are finding your children are worried about the coronavirus, The World Health Organisation (WHO) states: ‘During times of stress and crisis, it is common for children to seek more attachment and be more demanding on parents and carers. Discuss corona with your children in an honest and age-appropriate way. If your children have concerns, addressing them together may ease their anxiety. Children will observe adults’ behaviours and emotions for cues on how to manage their own emotions during difficult times.

Staying visible

You may feel the need to be seen to be present at your computer throughout the day – THIS IS NOT THE CASE.  It is important to maintain breaks and to work to the schedule discussed with your manager. It is helpful to others though to keep your status on communication applications such as Cisco Jabber, Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams updated so people know when you are taking a break or in a virtual meeting. Detail on how to do this can be found in this section.

Balancing work and family - available resources

  • The Gov UK website provides a useful resource for parents and carers on supporting young people’s mental health and wellbeing during this time
  • Gingerbread are the leading national charity working with single parent families, and have some excellent resources and FAQ
  • Struggling to find interesting school work for your children? The charity Family Action has some great resources
  • For children who may be anxious about the pandemic the BBC Newsround website has some excellent content targeted at young people.

I have caring responsibilities

I’m a carer and whilst it isn’t affecting my work I could really do with some external support.

Carers are typically someone who provides support and care for someone with an illness, disability, mental health problem or addiction. There are lots of supportive online groups and sources of help, including the national carers UK forum, where you can connect with other carers facing the same challenges. There are also local voluntary groups that may be able to help in practical ways, for example with home deliveries.

I have unpaid caring responsibilities in addition to my job role. Is there extra guidance for me?

The government published some specific guidance on 8 April for carers of friends or family during the coronavirus outbreak. 

If you are caring for someone who is deemed to be extremely vulnerable, take extra precautionary measures by only providing essential care and ensure you follow the NHS hygiene advice for people at higher risk.

What happens if the person I care for falls ill and I need to take time off work immediately and I don’t have any leave left?

Staff will be supported during these unprecedented times and your manager will work with you to agree the time that you need to deal with an emergency involving someone you care for.