In a recent study conducted by IWG, the challenges faced by working parents in managing childcare commitments during the summer holidays have been brought to light.
The research, encompassing the responses of over 1,000 parents, sheds light on the significant stress that almost two-thirds (62%) of working parents experience when arranging childcare for the school summer break.
The findings underline the intricate balance that parents must strike between their professional obligations and childcare responsibilities.
A staggering 55 percent of respondents admitted to utilising their annual leave to fulfil their childcare duties, while a notable 12 percent even exhaust their entire annual leave entitlement to meet these demands.
The study demonstrates that 43 percent of parents resort to adjusting their work schedules, often opting to work fewer hours. To cover childcare needs, 31 percent of respondents reported working early in the morning, while 29 percent extend their work hours late into the evening. Regrettably, nearly one-third (29%) of parents feel that their job performance suffers as a result of the increased time allocation to childcare duties.
Summer stress: what can employers do to help?
A noteworthy solution to alleviate the stress of summer holidays for parents is the availability of flexible working arrangements. An impressive 38 percent of parents view this as a primary solution, a figure that rises to 49 percent among parents with children under the age of 5.
A flexible workspace would notably curtail commuting times and allow parents to work closer to their residences. More than half (56%) of respondents believe that such a setup would considerably reduce the stress of summer holidays, particularly among younger parents aged 25 to 34, where this sentiment climbs to 67 percent.
The advantages of flexible workspaces are manifold, as pointed out by the participants. These include a reduction in commuting distances (46%), cost savings related to travel (35%), and the capacity to utilise the workspace during periods of childcare (34%), such as when partners are at home. Notably, an overwhelming 78 percent of parents express a preference for utilising a flexible workspace situated closer to their homes, if the opportunity were presented.
These findings not only underscore the challenges parents face during summer holidays but also offer potential solutions for employers to consider. IWG’s Chief Commercial Officer, Fatima Koning, expressed the profound impact that the hybrid working model can have on families during the holiday season. Koning shared her own experience of how hybrid working empowered her to balance parenting, self-care, and career growth.
Hybrid working has gained substantial momentum, prompting many businesses to adopt a hub-and-spoke office model. This model entails employees splitting their work time between their homes, a local office, and a city centre headquarters.
As a testament to the shift in work patterns, IWG has experienced a 36 percent surge in demand for workspaces located outside city centres in 2022. In response, IWG has committed to expanding its offerings by adding 1,000 new locations globally within the next year. These additions will predominantly be in rural and suburban areas, providing accessible workspaces for parents in search of flexibility.
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.