How do you put a value on the ability to perform your work remotely?

This is something many employers struggle with and what used to be something we could only dream of doing, is now more mainstream than ever. Working remotely started as a necessity due to Covid and has now become something that most of us expect, in fact, a vast majority of the people I speak with on a daily basis see it as a must-have option. For many, this can be a great benefit for those who have family members that require care, as it provides flexibility and allows for a better work-life balance and the ability to be there for the times when you are most needed. This became my reality 18 months ago when my father’s health suddenly began to decline. I went from the occasional Sunday visit to 2-3 days a week shuttling him to appointments and overnight hospital stays that stretched 5-7 days at a time. It was my ability to work remotely that made such a huge difference in my parents’ lives and mine.

Working remotely does not come without its own set of challenges

For many, caring for a family member is a full-time job in itself. Whether it be a child with special needs, an elderly parent, or a family member with a chronic illness, the demands of caregiving can be overwhelming. The addition of a full-time job can make it even more difficult to balance caregiving responsibilities with work responsibilities. This is where working remotely is an immeasurable benefit.

When you have a family member that needs care, working remotely means that you have the flexibility to set your own schedule and work around your caregiving responsibilities. For example, if you need to take your parent to a doctor’s appointment in the middle of the day, you can schedule your work around that appointment so that you can be there for when you are needed. Or if your child has a therapy appointment in the afternoon, you can take them to that appointment and then work in the evening when they are sleeping.

Working remotely also means that you can be physically present for your family while still being able to fulfill your work responsibilities. I have spent upwards of 30 days in the last 18 months working from a hospital bedside, hallway, breakout room and cafeteria.

One thing to watch out for is the lack of separation between work and home life. When you work from home, it can be difficult to establish boundaries between your work responsibilities and your caregiving responsibilities. This can lead to burnout and make it even more difficult to balance your responsibilities. I’ve experienced this myself and adopted new, healthy ways of coping with the stress and creating an environment where I still get to socialize outside of work and family. This is a must!

To manage this, it is important to establish clear boundaries between your work and home life. This means setting specific work hours and sticking to them or if you need a more fluid approach, create daily goals or tasks that you need to accomplish.

It is also important to have a support system in place. This can include family members, friends, and professional caregivers who can provide assistance with caregiving responsibilities when needed. Remember, you can’t do it all, it’s OK to ask for help. Look to resources like or Caregiver Support Groups on Facebook, or your local Community Centre.

It can also be helpful to connect with other caregivers who are in similar situations, either through support groups or online communities. I have found some great support this way.

Don’t forget about yourself, you need to prioritize your own health and well-being. This means taking breaks when needed, getting enough sleep, and eating a healthy diet. It may also mean seeking professional help if you are struggling with anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues. There are so many apps, blogs and groups that can offer this type of support now, use them.

As difficult this has been at times, I would not change anything. Having the ability to be there for my family when they needed me has been both humbling and very gratifying in a strange way. Most of us do need to work to pay the bills, but we are human beings first and life will always present challenges, how you face them can make the world of difference to someone you love.

Mark Kowall