How Parents Can Stay Productive in a Virtual Workplace

My wife and I have three kids in our house, ages 20, 16, and 11. Like many parents, in the weeks leading up to the closing of schools and offices, we felt a growing sense of concern around how to best prepare for extended isolation. How could we make the most of our time together, and how could we lead by example as we begin to work from home?

Below I have shared six ideas that I came up with, as well as an update of where we are at ten days into our quarantine: 

1) Be a good example. Every morning I shower and dress as I normally do. I do not work in my pajamas or begin the workday with bedhead. While I know this is not strictly necessary, I believe this helps my family see some normalcy in a challenging situation. 

Update ten days in: This aspect of my routine is proving to be crucial. The morning is my hardest time emotionally, and conquering it every day before the rest of my family wakes up is critical. 

2) Add entertainment to our chore chart. One of our kids is responsible for planning interactive, non-electronic family entertainment every evening. We’ve also added some new board games to our collection!

Update ten days in: This is the silver lining in the isolation. Our family is having a great time together. Every. Single. Night. We feel closer and more appreciative of each other than ever before.

3) Add family exercise to our schedule. Every night we do chin-ups and core exercises. Sometimes we also do yoga.

Update ten days in: This is a great stress reliever, and my kids really love it. 

4) Take walks as a family. Sunlight is good for you. I feel lifted every time we do this, and everyone’s mood brightens. We say hi to our neighbors, from a distance, and feel reassured that they are okay.

Update ten days in: This is critical for me. My emotional stability gets a boost every time I do it.

5) Keep a routine. Everyone has to wake up by 8:30 am. We do chores and we take turns cooking. My kids have complained about feeling unproductive, so we use the routine to help them feel like they are getting things done.

Update ten days in: This is very important, and over the past few days we’ve added even more structure, such as setting a TV/computer/video game schedule. Left to their own devices (see what I did there?), our kids will veg out the entire day, so we’ve established a rule that digital entertainment is not allowed until 4:30 pm. Today my 16-year-old son announced he is going to clean the tiles on the fireplace because “I have two hours before I can use the computer and I want to do something helpful.”

6) Share your ‘roses and thorns.’ Every night we get together and share our “roses” and “thorns” for the day. Roses are things that were good, thorns are things that weren’t.

Update ten days in: This is a very fun time for us. We are silly and contemplative, and it really helps us feel close and think through things we want to change.

I hope you and your loved ones find these six ideas to be as helpful for your families as they are for mine. I recommend you also share your innovative ideas and strategies for balancing home and work, and together we will emerge even stronger and more collaborative than before.


David Christiansen

Vice President of Engineering at ExecOnline

David Christiansen is Vice President of Engineering at ExecOnline, where he leads the development of the ExecOnline learning platform. David built the initial version of the ExecOnline learning platform for the launch of ExecOnline’s debut program, Leading Innovative Change, and has been heavily involved in its evolution ever since. Prior to joining ExecOnline, David was a consultant specializing in helping entrepreneurs launch their online dreams. David has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Brigham Young University.


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