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Free online course for separated parents | Fatherhood | Being Dad | ‘Can you play with me now?’ The joys and pitfalls of working from home

‘Can you play with me now?’ The joys and pitfalls of working from home

Maya Griffiths

Maya Griffiths

The work from home culture which began during lockdown has become the norm for many. For those without kids the home can offer a comfortable place to work, avoiding the commute and providing the ability to Skype while wearing pyjama bottoms.

However, for parents.. well, remember this viral BBC interview?

Thankfully, while the majority of us aren’t broadcasting live to millions during our work day, children ‘visiting’ during moments of concentration is the norm.

We spoke to some dads about the pitfalls of working from home, as well as the benefits.

‘I feel really guilty because I can’t give him my attention’

Steve, a journalist, spends around half his working week at home, often during the evening. His 11 year old son often likes to pop in and chat. ‘He is old enough to understand that I’m in the middle of something, but still for some reason doesn’t quite get the need for me to focus,’ Steve explains. ‘He will often start asking me what I’m writing about or start telling me something unrelated about school or Pokemon. It can be a bit hard to get my head back into what I was doing before he came in.’

Matt, an IT consultant, has a 3 year old son and works full time from home. ‘I can’t lie, it can be hard work,’ he says. ‘Charlie is going through a phase of wanting his dad and he doesn’t understand why, if his dad’s at home, he can’t play with him. I feel really guilty because I can’t just leave what I was doing and give him my attention, and sometimes my partner has to take him away in tears.’

Geoff, an architect, has two school-aged children. He finds that creating a distinct work place helps. ‘I’m lucky, I have a separate room in the house to use as an office,’ he says, ‘so it feels like a work environment and I can detach myself from the family life at that point. I can imagine if you don’t have that luxury then it would prove very difficult.’

The upsides, the downsides

Matt finds that there are benefits of being a home-working dad. ‘I have no commute, so I can help my wife get Charlie ready in the morning, and I can spend my lunch hour having some dad/ son time. Plus, in the evening I’m done by 6 so there is time for me to bath him and help put him to bed. I never had that before Covid ended my office working situation.’

Steve agrees that the extra parenting time is a bonus: ‘I get to see my son when he comes home, and hear about his day. On days in the office I get home after he was in bed, which is always a shame. I’ll happily take the sometimes awkwardness of working with a child around if it means I get extra time with him.’

‘Overall I like working from home,’ says Geoff. ‘Sometimes I miss the adult interaction, but I do get to work outside of the home environment about 20% of the time. My children are of school age so most of the time I don’t get interrupted. I do during school holidays, but I would much rather that, then interruptions from an angry boss.’

The importance of remote work for dads

A recent study by Remote of 10,000 people found that the majority of parents prefer home working. 52% of parents of one child and 48% of parents of multiple children said they prefer to work remotely.

Overall, 81% of respondents said they feel it is important to work for an employer that allows for flexible working.

63% said they would value miscarriage leave as an employee benefit, while 67% would prefer to have family health insurance.

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