In times as peculiar as this, here’s the testimony of an Office Manager and mother of a 5-year-old child working from home and managing between work and childcare.

Well, I can start by mentioning that, as an Office Manager, the shock is huge when you are forced to work from home. It starts not only with the pause that is taken in many daily tasks directly related to the management of the office, as there is always constant necessary monitoring, but also with the concern to ensure my colleagues’ well-being, who are no longer there. That feeling of protection of the office and colleagues is put on standby. BUT a big message I got from this particular times was that maybe the remote work will be the future for so many business areas and this was the moment for so many companies to conclude this and even find tools to give employees the right conditions to make it happen.

Still, do not think that an Office Manager just manages the office, as it has an essential role in the improvement of the company’s business, since she/he has financial and, often, HR responsibilities.

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Our home office setup

So, now it was time, then, to “clean the house”! In this phase of confinement, many take the opportunity to organize their homes and handle tasks that had been pending for so long. I can say that this is precisely what’s happening with my work. I have always heard that difficult times bring a need for adaptation, but they also bring opportunities. The opportunities I found were mainly the improvement of processes and reflecting on what more can be done to improve the business. Another great advantage I also found at home was the time that you can spend/share with your family. My family is more united, we exercise even more. Gymnastics at home, after all, is an asset today and perfectly feasible!

As for the management carried out between work and accompanying my daughter, essentially with the activities of the kindergarten, I assume that it is not easy. Working and having a child in need of constant attention requires a great deal of mental exercise, method, a well-defined routine and a lot of patience. It is clear that having the understanding and flexibility from the company, managers and colleagues is very important and I can say that I’m very lucky in this regard. Funny experiences I can share: having calls with colleagues saying hello to my daughter whenever she comes to peek :), as for my skills on painting and crafts, well, I improved a lot and I even noticed my daughter is evolving significantly by being with their parents more often! As for the schools, I think they are also trying to adapt as they realized they should be more flexible too and it’s imperative not to demand so much from the students, since now they are at home with their parents, which is so much difficult for all to keep up the learning rhythm.

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Smurfette made in plasticine by me to make my daughter happy

I can say I have always been very earthly and very connected to human causes, so I think it helped me a lot to have the strength to live in these strange times. BUT we live in an unprecedented phase, many are living in much more difficult and precarious conditions, many are even more isolated in a phase in which greater monitoring would be essential and many even lose their loved ones. So, again, I feel extremely lucky when I look at all this scenario surrounding us. 

Anyway, I can tell you that is still a little bit hard for me to be away from the office. For instance, I have to go to the office from time to time to check that everything is ok and water my plants, since I can’t watch them die! I take precautions, of course, but my conscience compels me to do so. As someone said to me the other day: “Life still goes on!”.

Written by Liliana Alves • May 7th, 2020

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Based in London and with offices across Manchester, Lisbon and Porto, YLD offers consulting services in software engineering, digital product design and training programs.