5 Rules I Follow to Work from Home Successfully with My Spouse
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I love working from home. Imagine doing your job all day long, without any phone calls, pointless meetings, and awkward watercooler chit-chats interrupting your peace. It's bliss!
Cut to the Coronavirus-lockdown announcement in March: my spouse became my new colleague. For someone who saw her home as more of an office for the better part of the day, sharing space with him sounded challenging.
I wasn't sure about how we would navigate through the “new normal.” But when a crisis like the pandemic shakes the regular work-and-home routines and forces you to coop up indoors, it's vital to communicate clearly with your partner.
That's how my spouse and I have enhanced our work-from-home setup:
1. Devote Time for Each Other: We take an hour to talk about everything — and nothing — each morning. During this time, we don't look at our mobile phones or do any household chores. We sit in our dining area with a steaming cup of tea and discuss politics, family, food, travel, and anything of interest. These chats always have a positive effect on us.
2. Fix and Stick to the Routine: We pre-fix our office hours and lunch or coffee break — like how we would have while working from an office. This maintains the house order and sets expectations.
3. Set Boundaries: Initially, we didn't clear our individual work commitments to each other, which led to many disagreements. We consistently got in each other's way, which simply irritated us. We eventually decided to have fixed workspaces, and bear in mind that whenever either of us has an essential task in hand, we would stay out of sight for so-and-so hours. By establishing boundaries, we have been able to avoid conflict to a great extent.
4. Treat Your Spouse Like a Colleague: My spouse always offers me a cup of coffee whenever he is fixing one for himself. It is his way of maintaining an office-like environment at home during the working hours. We use that five-to-10-minute break to discuss how our day is unfolding. The light banter softens the hard edges created by a stressful workday.
5. Maintain Individual Ergonomics: We don't share communication equipment, and we make sure we take our calls using headphones and not from our laptop speakers. Working from home together isn't the same as watching Netflix over a weekend. We both are thorough professionals.
The central task of any marriage is how you and your spouse manage your differences, which is why it is important to regularly communicate with each other. No wonder we laugh more, run the house efficiently, and are at peace with each other — even during these trying times.