Challenges Faced by Parents Who are Working Remotely, and Overcoming Them

Series: Strategies for Working Remotely

While working remotely is challenging enough, many are currently experiencing unique complexities involved with parenting, transitioning to online school at home, and working productively while practicing social distancing in response to COVID-19. In the second installment of the IDEAS-ECP panel discussion series, we brought together four ECP staff members, a new staff member on-boarding with a National Lab, and a Montessori educator to share ideas and resources.



Panelist Bios

Katherine Evans is the division director for the computational sciences and engineering division at ORNL. Performing this job when working remotely during a pandemic in a house with a high school senior, college senior, and fellow scientist/manager/husband Tom (see bio below) requires staking out the quietest room in the house to perform a range of calls. On these calls, she attempts to assure her staff that its ok to let the kids cry in the background and asks for clarity from her management to guide her through the unforeseen logistical issues for 100 people to work remotely and 20 staff to risk their health to continue their work onsite. During this exercise, Tom and the kids also have many online meetings/classes/gaming and she thanks herself daily that her husband Tom successfully argued to upgrade the family internet to 100Gb fiber just last year. The beagle enjoys the new family schedule and has learned that the kids give in to the cute dog face so she now eats about 10 times a day.

Thomas Evans leads work at ORNL on energy applications in ECP. He is working remotely during a pandemic in a house with a high school senior, college senior, and fellow scientist/manager/wife Kate (see bio above).

Madeline Heroux is an educator with experience tutoring junior high, high school and college students in the US and Japan. She is presently at Step-by-Step Montessori school in Minneapolis, MN, working with young children. Her most recent efforts are focused on the transition from in-person to remote learning. In what can seem like an impossible challenge at times, she has been working closely with parents and children alike to form schedules, activities, and structure that works best for them.

Lindsey Hughes just transitioned to a systems engineer role supporting the W80-4. She and her husband have worked at Sandia National Laboratories for 10 years. She is currently working a part time schedule primarily from home. She has three kids under the age of six and two dogs keeping things interesting in the background. Her husband is working full time from the home as well. Lindsey has served as board member for the Sandia Parents Group for 3 years.

Stefan Wild, from the Laboratory for Applied Mathematics, Numerical Software, and Statistics (LANS) at Argonne National Laboratory, has lost track of the number of weeks since daycare, kindergarten, and two offices moved under one roof.

Moderator Bios

Ashley Barker is the Group Leader for the User Assistance and Outreach (UAO) team at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF) located at Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL). UAO is responsible for facilitating access to OLCF resources, providing training, documentation, and technical support to users, collecting and reporting on user facility data, and acquainting the public with the work conducted at the OLCF through scientific highlights. The OLCF supports more than 1,200 users and 250 projects annually from a wide spectrum of science domains. Ashley served as the National Climate Research Center (NCRC) Project Director from 2014-2016. The NCRC project represents a partnership between NOAA and DOE and through this partnership, the NCRC team has delivered multiple computer systems to NOAA, allowing the agency to advance its climate modeling and improve our understanding of climate variability and change. Ashley is also currently involved in the Exascale Computing Project (ECP) as the Control Account Manager (CAM) for training and productivity.

Elaine Raybourn is a social scientist who has worked remotely for a combined total of 14 years while at Sandia National Laboratories: from the UK as a guest researcher at British Telecom; Germany (FhG FIT) and France (INRIA) as a Fellow of the European Research Consortium in Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM), and most recently from Orlando, Florida as a member of Sandia’s Statistics and Human Systems Group (Applied Cognitive Science) and the IDEAS-ECP productivity project.