It’s becoming increasingly common for those in dual-earner households to be working from home. Though this might sound ideal, having two professionals working remotely together day in and day out—and not necessarily on the same type of work—doesn’t always lead to a harmonious union.
Some level of compromise and expectation setting is involved. I’m very familiar with this, as my husband and I both work from home, and we have a seven-week-old baby girl along for the ride.
Here are a few things I’ve learned to help ensure a healthier, happier existence with a partner who also works remotely:
Respect their timetable.
You might be an early bird, but your better half may prefer working into the late evening or night. While this likely hasn’t changed since you met, the difference may become exacerbated by the fact that you now have more control over your individual schedules. Give your partner a wide berth when it comes to managing their work day (or night), so long as it doesn’t interfere with the important things that you should do together. (See caregiving and mealtimes, below.)
Offer physical (and mental) space.
Just because you’re both at home doesn’t mean you have to (or should!) spend every waking minute together. My husband and I occasionally will both be on laptops in our open concept living room and kitchen, and at other times one of us will retreat to a home office. Your calls don’t have to echo throughout your partner’s workspace. One of you might prefer a breeze and the other would like to be in air conditioning. You may also find that you’re able to better focus on tasks when there’s no one around to distract you.
Unless your day is booked up with back-to-back calls, you have the opportunity to spend some quality time with your significant other during meals when you both work from home. Try coordinating your schedules so that you can share breakfast and an afternoon coffee break, or gather for lunch in the kitchen or your favorite local cafe. It will help to clear your mind and will make your bond stronger…but avoid talking shop for the duration. This is intended to be a break from your workday!
Share caregiving responsibilities.
Have a little one or a couple of kids at home? Or a few fur babies? Perhaps you have aging parents nearby who need your help regularly. Or maybe you’re just nurturing a shared nest egg. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to behave as a unit when it comes to these responsibilities. When you act as a team, your contributions collectively enable one another to get work done when it needs to be done, without anyone feeling overburdened or that those you love are getting let down.
Be a sounding board.
Perhaps your professions are vastly different—or maybe you both happen to be employed in the same field. Regardless, your partner can serve as a sounding board if you have a particularly wicked problem that you’re tackling. They’re your biggest supporter, too, so you’ll be able to discuss challenges and brainstorm possible solutions in a safe space. If they also possess expertise in your area, that’s a real bonus; you can always thank them by taking on an extra chore or two, or, in my case, posting a tongue-in-cheek ‘Spousal Appreciation Certificate’ on the fridge.
It can be difficult when you both work from home, but try following these tips as a guide.
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