How to survive working from home as a couple: Survival Guide
The global pandemic has brought us lots of changes and this has made working from home a new challenge for couples. For many couples, office life pre-pandemic meant spending most of the day apart and maybe exchanging pleasantries in the evening over a glass of your favourite tipple together. Now many couples in lockdown are finding that they are spending all of their days together now especially in countries where there is a lockdown. This can be great for some couples but for others it can cause tension. What started off as a novelty for some couples “look at us we are working from home, isn’t it great” has now turned into a battlefield, and undoubtedly it may have caused some couples to split up as a result. This is a guide on how to survive working with your partner, and still love them at the end of your working day!
For some couples WFH has been great
For some couples WFH together isn’t such a bad thing, and working from home together at the same time can mean that couples are spending more time together than ever before.
For other couples WFH has been a disaster
For other couples, working from home together has meant increased tension between them and they have discovered new things about their partner and their role in the office that they never knew before.
WFH together as a couple means that you have to create boundaries, communicate properly and ideally create your own space. If you live with housemates as well, the concept of working from home can be even tougher and becomes undesirable unless certain boundaries are set early on.
Let’s face it, Our Old Office Life was fairly Straight Forward
Let’s admit it, the “old office life” was pretty easy. Challenging, but simple. You get up, go to work and you work until you have to, come back, feed yourself Watch some Netflix, and if got some sleep that was a bonus. Rinse and repeat this formula the next day.
For some couples they have noticed a change in their partners following the pandemic.
It didn’t only force you to work from home. It also forced you to work from home, whilst your partner was there alongside you, and maybe your housemates, or children.
How can you work with your partner under the same roof and still stay sane?
Keep Your Distance
First of all if you are at all concerned, keep your distance. Do not underestimate the impact of this type of change. Even if you vow to love and support them for all your life, you didn’t realise the pandemic is coming. And to do that, you need your own space and time. Go to the other end of the room, floor, house, wherever you can find. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, and you need your own space for working.
Get out of Bed!
A lot of people won’t admit to it, but it really is important to not WFB. Maintaining your schedule is still really important whether you are working at home or not. Working from the comfort of your bed may seem appealing, but ultimately it is not a long term solution and you really need to both set up a decent office space area in your home where you can work relatively undisturbed.
Invest in Noise Cancelling Headphones
For smaller spaces where you feel like you are too close to your partner’s loud Zoom calls, headphones are actually a fantastic investment for whisking you away to somewhere else. If you need to concentrate on your work then some noise cancelling headphones can be a great investment, and you can take Microsoft Teams calls on them as well, so they will double up for work and pleasure.
If things get tough, go outside and get some fresh air
Sometimes home working can not always be as harmonious as we are all meant to believe it is and things can go wrong. If you were in the office you could just walk away and sit in a different part of the office, but at your own home it can be hard to walk away and bear in mind that this isn’t just a colleague this is your partner! Grabbing a breath of fresh air outside and going for a quick walk can be a great way to quickly reflect on what has just happened. Make sure you act calmly, where possible.
Agree on a shared lunch time, break time or “home time”
Agreeing on these shared times will help create some catchup time for you and your partner during the day. Some days it is likely that this just won’t be possible, but if you feel like the time is right then it might be worth trying to share some time together during the working day.
As going home isn’t quite the same when you are working from home, you need to agree a time when you are going to turn off your computers and call it a day. If possible try to make this a shared time so you can be on the same schedule, otherwise one of you will likely end up being more tired than the other.
Share your Schedule with your partner
Secondarily, it is definitely worth sharing your work schedule with your partner. This may seem as though it is not necessary, why should they know what time your presentation and/or call is and when you will speak to your manager?! But this is part of the communication process and helps to set boundaries and control the environment, which in turn helps your performance at work and will ultimately reduce stress.
You cannot blame your partner for starting to make a cup of coffee or tea when you need to lead an important call if they didn’t know about it!
Give them more information, share your schedule. Believe me, they don’t want to feature on your video call, as much as you don’t want them to.
Don’t try to alter your work persona too much.
Third, be proud of your work-persona. Many people have slightly different personality at work. It helps you to be more bold to get work done, or maybe be more friendly to obtain the supports you need. However you may not have necessarily had to show this side of you to your partner before. They may find this “new you” different, but it’s important that they see this side of you as well.
Lastly, treat them as your colleagues during working hours! Try not to talk about the dirty dishes they didn’t do last night, phone calls to make for water bills and shopping to do in the evening. Do as you did at work, leave a WhatsApp message, but you need to accept that working is stressful, and you don’t want to add extra stress for your loved one. B gentle with them while working! After all, you will have them for yourself after the laptop is shut.