Johannesburg - A new study has revealed the challenges faced by working parents in managing child-care commitments during the holidays.
The research, undertaken by IWG, the world’s largest operator of flexible and hybrid workspace, shows that almost two-thirds (62%) of working parents find arranging childcare for the school holidays to be a significant source of stress. Consequently, over half (55%) use their annual leave to meet child-care responsibilities, whilst over 1 in 10 (12%) use their entire annual leave entitlement in the process.
Parents have pointed to the availability of flexible working arrangements as the number one factor in reducing the stress of the school holidays, allowing them to cut down on the commute and work closer to home. In fact, 38% of parents identify this as the primary solution, with the percentage rising to 49% among parents of children under 5 years old.
More than half (56%) believe that such a workspace would help alleviate the stress of the school holidays, especially among younger parents (25–34-year-olds), where the figure rises to 67%. Benefits identified include reduced commuting distance (46%), cost savings on travel and transport (35%), and the ability to utilise the workspace during periods of childcare (34%), such as when their partners are at home.
The research makes clear the challenges parents face in balancing work and child-care responsibilities. 43% of parents adjust their work schedules by working fewer hours, with 31% working early in the morning to cover childcare during the day, while 29% work late in the evening for the same reason. Additionally, 29% feel that their work suffers because they have to allocate more time to childcare.
Parents have pointed to the availability of flexible working arrangements as the number one factor in reducing the stress of the holidays, allowing them to cut down on the commute and work closer to home. In fact, 38% of parents identify this as the primary solution, with the percentage rising to 49% among parents of children under 5 years old.
An overwhelming majority of parents (78%) express their preference to use a flexible workspace closer to their homes if given the opportunity. The figures are even more significant among 25-34-year-olds, 90% of whom would take advantage of a local workspace, with 50% using it frequently.
These findings highlight potential solutions for employers and how they can alleviate the pressures and challenges parents face, particularly during holidays.
An environmental impact study by IWG and Arup also revealed the significant green impact of hybrid working. It showed that working closer to home through a hybrid model can cut carbon emissions in cities by up to 70%. IWG itself has achieved carbon neutrality for the entire first quarter and expects to be carbon neutral for all of 2023 and beyond.
As demand for hybrid working accelerates, IWG has seen many businesses adopt a hub and spoke office model, with employees splitting their time between home, a local office and city centre HQ.
These changing work patterns have resulted in a 36% increase in demand for IWG workspaces located outside of city centres in 2022. IWG is expanding to meet this demand by adding 1 000 new locations globally in the next year, predominantly in rural and suburban areas, to provide accessible workspaces for parents seeking flexibility.
IWG chief commercial officer Fatima Koning said this research shows that the flexibility afforded by the hybrid model can be a game-changer for families during the summer holidays, especially those with young children
“Hybrid working has made a vital difference in my life: I am empowered to co-parent my daughter, take good care of myself and progress in my career – priorities that would be far more difficult to manage successfully if I were travelling back and forth to a central office every day.
“Offering hybrid working options is such an important and straightforward way for businesses to show commitment to employees by freeing up their time and giving them greater control over their schedules to manage their family responsibilities. Organisations that have adopted hybrid working are not only seeing healthier and happier workforces, but more engaged and productive teams.”