It’s back to school season, and many working parents are feeling the stress. Getting back into school routines can result in parents missing work, showing up late, leaving early, and feeling distracted during the day – a form of “presenteeism.” And these interruptions can be costly for employers in terms of lost productivity.

What can HR teams do to help their employees minimize back to school stress? What communication tools can be leveraged to help avoid the potential negative impact on workplace productivity?

A popular benefit that can help minimize stress and improve workplace performance is offering flexible working arrangements. Allowing employees to make adjustments to their work schedule during the school year or work from home can increase their productivity. It can also reduce the costs associated with turnover and employee absenteeism.

With this kind of flexibility, parents can work their schedules as needed. With a work from home option, for example, if a child doesn’t have school one day, the employee doesn’t have to miss work. If a child needs to be picked up early from school, then the parent doesn’t need to fear asking his or her boss for permission to leave work early. And if a parent wants to take part in a school field trip with their child, then they can go on the trip and work earlier in the morning or later in the evening.

Flexible working is not only a good benefit for employees who are parents, but it can also serve as an excellent tool to help recruit and retain the best talent. This is especially critical in today’s “quitting economy” as most companies are lucky to have employees work for them for more than a few years.

Using communication tools such as video conferencing, HR teams can open up their candidate pool by interviewing talent across the globe. This not only helps to recruit the best talent out there but it also drastically cuts down on the time it takes to hire quality employees.

In addition, candidates may find that flexible and work from home arrangements tilt the scale versus a company without those benefits. Who wants to commute, fight traffic, and deal with in-office distractions when there is the option to work from home and be more productive?

Of course, not having and utilizing the right collaboration tools can make or break productivity within your organization. Remote working employees need to have access to the same collaboration platforms that employees in the office leverage.

Employees working remotely also need to have access to mobile devices that enable them to seamlessly connect with colleagues face-to-face on a secure platform they are already familiar with, such video conferencing and Skype for Business. This allows employees to interact and collaborate with team members without having “presence disparity,” which can affect employee morale and productivity.

An example of presence disparity is when marketing teams storyboard on a whiteboard, and the remote teams cannot see what is going on. There’s no need for remote employees to feel as if they need to be in the office to collaborate on the next big marketing campaign – as if it were a scene out of the AMC show Mad Men.

Today’s video conferencing solutions allow remote employees to not feel as if they are in the room with their colleagues – no matter where those colleagues may be. Whether they are on their desktop, or on a mobile device waiting to pick up their child from the bus, remote employees can see and participate effectively with the team, regardless of location.

Back to school stress can be a real struggle for working parents. There’s no need for companies in today’s day and age to add to parents’ stress due to their commitments outside of work. Providing flexible working arrangements along with the right collaboration solutions can help relieve some of the back to school workplace stress, improve productivity and increase the talent pool for many organizations.

Does your company offer flexible work or work from home options? Tell us your story !