Permanent working from home, with children present

Looking for some thoughts on this - we've had an application for someone to work from home permanently where, for an hour or so in the afternoon, their children will be with them. 

In the past I've tended to think that it's kind of impossible to be working when also looking after children, but if the parent is saying their children (8 and 6) are fairly self sufficient and that they have no concerns about being able to work, who am I to really know differently? 

Would you agree on a trial basis? 

  • You are their Boss, who needs to make sure the arrangement works for both sides. You need to discuss it with them and come to a conclusion about whether you are convinced this can work or if you are willing to give it a trial (if you believe it may work). part of this will be understanding the arrangements and how self sufficient a 6 year old really can be, what will happen if interrupted (and if the work the type that needs to be done there and then or could it be done later if interrupted) etc.

    What arrangements are you/they proposing for the school holidays when for 12/13 weeks of the year they will be home for all day rather than just an hour? I assume she is proposing to pick them up from school? How does this fit into her wok day etc. You are allowed to ask questions and see if this really will work.

  • In reply to Keith:

    Thank you, I really appreciate you taking the time to respond. I understand the process, I guess I was more thinking whether I should be challenging my long held beliefs about whether this would work or not. Does anyone have any examples of this working well in practice? Willing to be challenged on this!

    Good point about the school holidays, I hadn't thought of that. Thank you. Interesting that the assumption is that the applicant is female, I probably would've done the same. Still a long way to go on getting away from this being a female issue isn't there.
  • In reply to Emma:

    All long held beliefs should be challenged - otherwise they don't evolve.

    Other peoples examples may not help that might as what is relevant is the job he/she does, their domestic circumstances and if their job could be interrupted if necessary - it would be far harder for say a call centre person (and yes many do work from home) than for say someone doing proof reading which they could return to later.
  • As Keith says, it will depend on the job they are doing. If workload / tasks can be assigned and they get results, it works. I can have more than one hour's worth of distraction in the office but because I am visible and targets are met, it isn't an issue so home working should be the same.

    If you trust the person and can evidence that their work is not affected, there's no reason not to trial it.
  • You also need to think about team cohesion and working relationships. Is this employee in a role that doesn't interact with any other people/departments? I'd definitely consider reserving the right to call the person in to attend training, team meetings and for other work-related reasons.
  • Hi Emma,
    I would be open to a 3 month trial with fortnightly check-ins as children and families are completely individual. It really is possible that the children could occupy themselves for an hour and the parent might be less distracted than they would be in the office by chatty colleagues / going to the bathroom / making a drink / smoking, etc.
  • It depends on the circumstances.

    I was working freelance until the birth of my son. A former customer then offered employment with some flexibility f.e. to work at home. This was all in all a good offer for me as a single mother. But I have to add that I usually worked 6 hours in the office and 2 hours at home. Usually means, if my son was ill or if my mother could not take care of my son I could work all day from home. I received a laptop with remote connection to the company and all software I used to need in the office. So it was possible to track record about the work I did at home.

    My commitment to the company was very high, grateful for this flexibility and generosity they offered to me. Of course, it helped that they knew how I worked from the time I worked freelance.

    In my opinion offering flexibility - if possible - can be an asset for employers and employees.