Freelancing, Remote Work, Technology and ... Childcare?

This event is free and has no commercial intentions. It is part of a research project.

The event will take place Wednesday the 21st 15:00 -16:00 CET. It is a 1h online session with an expert panel having a conversation on the topic while the audience can engage via questions in the chat.
It bridges between the coworking event we had in July and the resilience summit but is an independent session that will be part of the Freelancer Week

Dear freelancers, other remote workers, coworking spaces and also employers,

We need to talk.

We need to talk about the realities of childcare for freelancing and remote working parents.

  • Have your employers/clients adapted to balancing out how your needs might differ now?
  • What is the reality in your household? How many hours do you spend working from your screen every day, and how much time does your child spend during that time using technology themselves?
  • Which role does technology currently actually play in the reality of childcare in remote working households?

We want to have an honest and unbiased conversation about how childcare looks like in the time of home offices. What are the challenges, advantages, problems, personal stories of collapses as well as successes.

Let’s have this conversation together!

  1. Contribute to this thread with your questions and experiences.
  2. Come to the discussion
  3. Post relevant links or contacts to explore this topic bellow.

Meet some of the panellists.

To register for this event just comment on this topic.

You will be sent the zoom link to join the session 1 day before the event (another round of links will be sent out 1h before the event for those who register late).

You can use this link to share the event:

This event is part of the NGI Forward project Generation Internet (NGI) initiative, launched by the European Commission in the autumn of 2016. It received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 825652 from 2019-2021.

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The call will be recorded for research purposes. Please read details about that process in this info sheet: Participant Information Sheet for "Freelancing, Remote Work, Technology ... and Childcare". By joining the call you are consenting to the recording as described in the information sheet.


Here are some links and potential relevant contacts that have already been brought to my attention by @RoRemote and @Berniejmitchell (thank you very much!) :

Ping @Berniejmitchell and @JvdLinden, could you add more of your ideas, contacts and examples to this thread?

Also, ping @katejsim, could you give some input on the type of questions we should ask and how we should phrase them based on your ethnographic insights?


My first questions would be, if you have a kid at home and you work from home, how much time do you need to spend helping him, her or them occupy themselves in mutually satisfying ways and what technology do you use (try to) to accomplish it?

My daughter is in this situation. She works for a climate change org and was already largely working from home. She has 2 kids. Like almost all kids these days they use Zoom for school and get Zoom fatigue after just a couple of hours max.

Then what? She bought her 8 year old son an Apple Watch and set it up as a kid device. That goes with his phone and the big iMac in the family room. He likes to make and edit videos. This is a lot of tech for a kid, but he is very active and sporty and because of covid and bad air from wildfires, has to spend a lot of time indoors. He is out of his “play with little cars and trucks” phase and can’t ride his bike or play ball with the neighbor kids. And she can’t have him using the sofa as a trampoline. He doesn’t have fine motor control skills, so no electronics set that needs solder. But making videos seems to have clicked. Plus his 16 year old cousin is pretty good at making videos so there is a role model aspect.

Her 7 year old daughter by contrast likes to draw and read books. So, paper, pencils, books.

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ping @katerinabc and @AgataW FYI


Hi! I’d like to watch the event (if my baby allows for it :slight_smile:).


Thank you for organising, I would love to attend the event!


Thanks for the ping @RoRemote
@MariaEuler: I like to attend the event.


topical article in a germa newspaper:

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Ping @amelia and @katejsim, I have now assembled a rather big panel with mothers and fathers from multiple countries with a wide variety of experiences balancing childcare and remote/freelancing work and event starting up and running their own businesses. (including one co-working space with an emphasis on childcare).

Since the panel is now bigger I would like to be very focused and well-thought-out with the questions I ask.

Could you guys help me to choose and formulate questions with your ethnographic sensibility and experience from the SSNA?

Also: Would you like to join?

I’ll be working on NGI next on Monday! If you come up with some in the meantime, let us know and we can help you edit and choose them then, as we have a team meeting on Monday too.

I don’t think I can join on Wednesday due to a scheduling conflict but I’ll let you know closer to time.

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Here is a question about childcare and tech in today’s reality:
Has the pandemic caused you to quickly adopt new technology to keep your child occupied and happy while you are trying to work, or did you already have a strong technology-based home environment for your child already?

I ask because my daughter did have to adopt a bunch of tech for her kids who like so many other kids can’t spend all day in Zoom classrooms and my daughter, who already was working at home 3 days a week, has a high pressure job that requires her total attention when she is working. She bought Apple watches for her kids (age 8 and 7) and a now iMac for the family room. Good tools to have regardless, but big expense that had to happen quickly.
Her kids are very physically active. One especially is not so bookish. But with school and playing outside with other kids so curtailed, he had not developed any quiet or study habit patterns outside of the routines developed by his school. Home time now dominates the day and he was frankly unprepared.

Also with more than one kid there is the issue of sharing - “hey it’s my turn now. No fair!” So the parent has to get up from working and sort it out.

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If you are interested and want to join the event comment here. Share your experience or a question regarding childcare for freeelnacers and remote workers:
I am not a parent (yet!), but I am a perennial online worker and I would also like to learn how to better manage teams where people are parenting and working online. Not many speak openly about the possibilities and constraints that this offers them.

And recently I witnessed a debate on facebook around this article about how in fact single parents might be discriminated against at the workplace by being expected to perform more. It was strange to see people jumping in and say ‘hey, but I thought parents are discriminated - women in particular don’t get more opportunities because they are considered to be not on the career path anymore’. From the different bubble we are in, things look so differently! It never ceases to amaze me.

@noemi, this is an interesting and relevant point. To help parents should not devalue those who for what ever reason are non parents. Therefore it is important to work on the communication and understanding of “improvements of the system are for everyone”. The oriciples of inclusive design are that if you explore and solve problems for extrem cases, you can generate solutions that are better for everyone.

Let’s look at this through an inclusive design lense.


Example questions we would like to address tomorrow contributed by our ethnographer @katejsim:

  • Were you always working remotely? If not, when and how did you decide to work remotely?
  • Tell us about a moment you felt proud as a parent because your ability to work remotely helped you be present/provide for your child/ren.
  • Working from home saves you time and space, but it also means that everything is brought together. What kind of boundaries do you have to set with yourself? With your children/family? With your colleagues?
  • What trade-offs do you make as remote workers with children?
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Great and important topic!

I think the amount of technology to it really depends on the age of the child. Speaking personally, our daughter is 2 years old, so she needs a lot of attention, it’s almost impossible to leave her alone except for the odd 5-10 minutes she’s entertaining herself. So during this pandemic when child care was closed, really only one person in the household can get meaningful work done. We made up for it by working around her schedule (early early morning and late nights), but it is challenging to say the least.

Technology can help keep her occupied, and letting her watch videos on the ipad is something she loves and regularly asks for, but everytime I do it, I feel like a failed parent. If she was older, I think this feeling would not be so strong, but as she is still a toddler, we try to keep her away from screens as much as is possible.

Today we’re lucky that child care is back, but of course it’s only a matter of time that the children will be sent to home quarantine for a few days or weeks. This is looming over everything, so we try to count our blessings now to be ready when that happens.

I’d be very curious to hear how others with children in this age range use technology around their children. Am I perhaps too much of a luddite when I try to strictly limit screentime? Are there other solutions we have not thought about?

Yes, thank you! I also think it’s important to understand who is not part of this discussion, whether those with the most difficulties around child care will have the hardest time to join this conversation, and how best to represent those.


Looking forward to this event!

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Will send out the first wave of emails with the zoom link later this evening.
A second wave follows tomorrow for late sign-ups 1h before the event.

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got it, thanks !

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If you are interested and want to join the event comment here. Share your experience or a question regarding childcare for freelancers and remote workers:
We are a couple of freelancers, during lockdown we split our days, so to have one of us available for our daughter (2 years old).
We could afford to work half a day each, and also business was really slow during lockdown. It was really exhausting but we were able to never leave our daughter in front of a screen.