Have you been wondering how to work from home with your partner and not have it lead to a divorce? Maybe these Ten Tips will help.
1. Have separate work areas. Separate offices, each with a door, ideal. If that’s not possible, specify your work space from your partner’s. You will each have your own unique approach to working and this will help keep the peace. If one person is a neat freak, and the other is a creative mess, keeping your work areas apart will keep the two of you together.
2. Synchronize schedules. Whether daily or weekly, let each other know when you have meetings, calls, or deadlines. Plan to help one another manage priorities and resources. If you have an important video call and are using the ‘office with a door’ your partner may need to use the kitchen table and/or manage the children, dog, and other interruptions.
3. Have a focusing signal. Whether it’s agreeing on a time designated for deep work, or acknowledging that wearing noise canceling headsets is a ‘do not disturb’ message – make it explicit what it means and what you want your partner to do or not do. If you have a door and it’s closed, does that mean do not enter or knock before entering?
4. Spend time apart. You’re together day and night. Keep the peace. Spend an afternoon alone on the back deck, or working on a project in the garage. Take an extra long bubble bath. It’s nice being together at first, but tension builds and absence makes the heart grow fonder.
5. Get off your butt! Exercise daily. Shifting from an office job to working from home eliminates a lot of steps. If you were used to walking to work or taking the stairs for exercise, you’ll soon notice a change. We don’t move as much when working from home. Now it needs to be intentional both for your physical and emotional health and those both lead to relationship health. Combine this with the ‘spend time apart’ item and go for a solo walk with the dog.
6. Have lunch together. Many remote workers end up being grazers instead of breaking for lunch. That’s not bad, but if you skipped lunch in the office, you may do the same at home. Don’t. Take a break and have a lunch date with your partner. It’s a brilliant time to talk and give your brain unfocused time.
7. Don’t manage your partner. Unless you actually are your partner’s manager, please don’t tell them how to work or give them crap when they want to take a nap or watch Netflix in the middle of the day. You are NOT your partner’s boss. (Note: don’t coach your partner if you are an executive coach. Trust me on this.)
8. Respect each other’s styles. Whether it’s how you communicate on a conference call or how you read documents (on screen vs. printing them out), you each have an approach. Respect your partner’s ways and do your best to hold judgement. And please do not try to change them.
9. Agree on work-home boundaries. Being connected 24/7/365 is nothing new. Now that you work from home, fewer signals exist to shift between them. Are there places or times that are work free in your home? Do you stop talking work on Friday at 5pm and don’t start again until Monday at 8am? Maybe the kids’ rooms are ‘work free’ zones.
10. Be co-workers. Not in the genuine sense of working for the same company, but as co-located workers. Professionals who work in the same location often share jokes, ask each other’s perspectives on situations, and share events of the day. Having a sounding board right there beside you is a valuable asset.
I have no evidence this will keep you from getting a divorce. These 10 tips came to mind when asked how we did it. My partner and I have been working from home together for more than 12 years and counting. It is possible. It’s not for everyone.
Read this with your partner. Give these a try. Adapt as needed. You have significant power to create your unique WFH experience. What will you do next?
Bonus tip: If you write a blog post about working with your spouse, let your spouse know before hitting publish.
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