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‘Small things’ count when parenting and working remotely during a pandemic

Company: MSD

Kristina Rey, associate director, global communications, shares her experiences of working from home as a mom and forging stronger connections with her colleagues despite the distance

Nearly everybody says it’s important to take time for yourself, and as a mom I know it’s critical to be available for my children. But what about the sneaky snuggle attack that interrupts the conversation I’m having with my boss? Should I feel guilty or embarrassed? Should I scold my kids for enjoying their short break from online schooling with such joyful yet disruptive behavior? 

Krinstina's sons doing virtual school
Kristina Rey working at home with her children

If there’s anything that I’ve learned while working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s to remain flexible and to pay attention to the small things – and by small things, I don’t just mean my children.

Opening up to create a more cohesive team

Last fall was so incredibly difficult for everyone. While working on a recent project, one teammate’s daughter was diagnosed with COVID-19, another team member almost lost her mother from a rare bacterial infection and my own uncle was battling for his life on a ventilator in the ICU.

I was trying to keep stress from disrupting my family life. Screaming at my children and my spouse was no longer an option. My teammates were equally challenged with their own issues. It became obvious just how much we all needed to pull together – not just in work, but in spirit. 

We started talking — really talking — about our feelings and concerns. We talked about so much more than work. We talked about what really worried us, about loneliness, about fear. We talked about everything and nothing. We learned to appreciate everyone’s difficulties, to be more flexible and to really show up for one another. It became OK for one of us to not be “on” 100% of the time. 

Working together and doing our best

Because of the honest and open communication, it became clear we were all doing the best we could. Had we not listened deeply and learned to pay attention to the “l​ittle things” — the health of our loved ones, the silly behavior of our dogs, the numerous antics of our children — we would have been collegial but not nearly as successful. By knowing my teammates and sharing our troubles, we built trust and understanding. We are all humans first and employees second. 

Get to know your teammates at a deeper and more “true” level — who they are, what they’re worried about and how you can help. After all, we’re all in this together and we are all doing the best we can.


Tags: Human Resources | Health |

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