…So You’re Suddenly Working From Home – Together

COVID-19 has turned everyone’s lives upside down. Schools are closed, workplaces are sending staff home, and even places of worship are suspending services, while we all try this thing they’re calling social distancing. In other words, you may be working from home for the foreseeable future, along with your partner, but how do you do that successfully? 

Take it from someone whose done it for the long-term – under non-pandemic circumstances – working from home with a partner isn’t easy. A few years ago, my wife and I were both freelancers and in graduate school, which means that we were hardly ever apart, and it wasn’t easy. Still, that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

If you’re facing coworking from home for the first time, here’s how to make it work, from someone whose been there. 

Talk About Your Patterns

When you’re at work in an office, you have a way that you do things. You know when you check your emails or take your lunch break, and whether you prefer to work with your headphones on or off. These little things may not feel like a big deal at work, but when you’re working from home with your partner, expressing your preferences – and sticking to them as much as possible – can help you stay productive.

Find Your Own Spaces

Maybe you usually work in a cubicle or one of those modern open plan offices with people all around you. That means that you’re used to working alongside other people, right? That may be true, but it’s different when it’s your partner. You’ll see a meme you need to show them or you’ll start complaining about one of your usual coworkers. These little releases can keep you sane, but they can also send you down a rabbit hole of further distractions. That’s why you need your own work spaces.

Obviously most people don’t have separate home offices they can retreat to, but if one of you can work in the kitchen and one in the living room, that can make a big difference. My wife and I also had success sharing a home office as long as our work areas didn’t face each other.

What About The Kids?

Schools around the country have been rapidly closing down, so what are you doing to do with the kids while you’re all cooped up at home? While there are a lot of homeschooling-style schedules floating around the internet right now, with two working parents, you’re going to need to tackle this in shifts. Take turns heading up kid-friendly activities and any enrichment you’re planning so that each of you has time to work, but don’t stress about strict schedules.

It’s also important to remember that your kids are feeling the stress, too. Even very young ones know something unsettling is happening. During this time, keep everyone grounded with family walks, cooking projects, and other activities that allow you to spend quality time together while maintaining social distance.

Express Your Stress

I still work from home, so social distancing hasn’t affected me as much as much as a lot of other people, but my wife works at a veterinary practice now. If anyone working or visiting the practice is exposed to COVID-19, they’ll need to shut down, and it will be hard for her to work from home; the practice can’t exactly treat animals remotely. While she may be able to work a few hours, this could be a financial hit, and we all know that talking about money can be hard.

If you and your partner are cooped up at home trying to work, it’s important to talk about whatever’s causing your stress, whether it’s finances, health anxiety, or worries about childcare. Bottling it up will only leave you feeling worse, causing you to snap at each other, and making it that much harder to stay home together – and that’s the last thing you need.

Working from home with your partner is an adjustment, but isn’t everything right now? Just remember that we’re doing this for the sake of our communities, not just ourselves. By taking the appropriate steps now, we will hopefully all stay healthy and get back to our routines in a few weeks.