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Many Americans are working from home right now, self-quarantining to curb the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. And for those with children, working at home isn't exactly convenient. Kids need attention and social interaction, they have short attention spans, and the concept of "Mom needs to focus right now" is lost on them.

If you're an employer or manager who has employees working from home right now with their kids, here are five specific ways you can support them and help them avoid cabin fever.

An older woman works on her laptop in her kitchen.

Image source: Getty Images.

Offer flexible work hours

If you're working from home and caring for children, it's not realistic to keep a strict 9-to-5 schedule. Make it clear to all team members that schedules can be flexed. Sure, there may be some calls that all employees need to attend, but outside of those fixed times, give your team the freedom they need to balance work and life.

Consider also recording all video calls or designating a note-taker so parents who cannot attend or need to drop out early don't miss important information. 

Don't expect employees to pretend their children aren't there

Remember the BBC interview with Professor Robert Kelly, which was quite sweetly interrupted by his children?

Expect this to happen, accept it, say hello to their children, ask to see their artwork, ask them what they're watching. You know, treat them like people. 

Make it easy for employees to be off the clock

Working from home makes it tough for many to really "clock out" at the end of the day. Make it clear to your employees that working from home doesn't mean working at all hours. 

Honor employees' PTO

Working from home still means working...just at home. And for those with children in the house right now, they're pulling the weight of two full-time jobs concurrently. Encourage employees to take the PTO they need (many may need some right now just to stay afloat) and honor vacation time that has already been scheduled. 

If you offer a discrete amount of PTO to your team members, now is a great time to add a few days or even a few weeks to everyone's bucket so they can take the time they need to regroup.

Offer your support

Ask your employees with kids how you can support them right now. Many people simply won't be used to working from home, and even fewer will be used to working from home with children running around. Do they need to schedule all meetings in the morning or afternoon? Do they need to adjust their schedule in a major way? What about priorities? All of these changes may have created more work for your team. Do you need to talk about what takes precedence right now? Ask.

Have another idea of how employers can support working parents during COVID-19? Email [email protected].