Working from home might be a blessing in some ways. After all, you get to keep your employment during a world-changing pandemic. You also get to dress in relatively comfortable clothes (at least from the waist down), and there’s the comfort of working in your own home.
However, there are several nuances to working from home. Whether this setup is permanent or only for a couple of days a week, one has to be very vigilant about their routine. It’s all too easy to get distracted by home chores, family members, and the other ins and outs of life when you’re not in an official workspace. In a way, you have to be even more disciplined than when you were going to an external, physical office for work.
You can read about the pros and cons of working from home here. For those who have to work remotely for some time, it makes sense to set up a home office of sorts. This can help you get into the work zone and also let roommates or family know not to disturb you. Still, even this space can cause rifts between you and other people. If your spouse is also working from home, the issue of sharing a home office might cause several problems.
Fortunately, there are ways to share such a space without it becoming a major issue. Here are some tips that might help you reach a solution that’s best for everyone:
1. Understand That Everyone Needs Space
If you’re a young couple or a small family squeezed into a tiny apartment, it’s evident that you won’t have a lot of space on hand. Even when you’re not working, being at home all the time in such cramped quarters can make everyone get on each other’s nerves. When the time comes to sit down and work, the only way out is to make the most of what you have.
Even if you and your spouse don’t have to work at the same time, ensure that you each have a workplace of your own. It could be in the same room, with different desks. If you’re working at a large table, stay in your own corner. Put all you need for working in that particular space and make it your office. When you’re preparing for tomorrow’s work, ensure that all your stuff is in your space and nowhere else.
No debris from your snacks, stray papers, pens, or even a coffee cup should be placed on the other person’s side. Respect their space, and demand the same respect in return.
2. Make a Quiet Schedule
If you have young kids, it can be difficult to make and stick to a fixed schedule. In such cases, you might have to communicate to your spouse about needing peace and quiet to focus whenever the opportunity arises.
Adults without kids or with older kids can work together to make a schedule so that their routine goes as smoothly as possible. Set a time when you need space and quiet to focus on meeting a deadline or make some calls.
However, keep in mind that this schedule might become obsolete at times. You need to stay a bit flexible and sympathetic to the other person’s needs, as well as in tune with your own requirements. At times, a spouse might need a few extra hours for an important video conference meeting. For result days, however, it’s good to know that we can have a slot to really dig into work and get the maximum amount done.
3. Stay Silent during Work Hours
A spouse can be your best friend, your confidant, and so much more. However, they can also be your biggest distraction. It’s tempting enough to call or text them in the middle of a busy workday, but it’s even worse if they’re physically there in the same room. Plus, some couples might want to chat during work hours just because they weren’t able to do that during non-pandemic or non-lockdown situations.
Here, it’s essential to understand that everyone has a different work style. Your spouse might require silence with no education at all, while you may be able to focus while keeping up a stream of conversation. In such cases, maintaining silence is usually the best solution. If one person wants a bit of distraction to break the monotony, they can always put on a podcast (using headphone), listen to the radio, or listen to some music while working.
4.Take Some Time Alone
When you’re working from home alongside your spouse, you’re with each other all day and all night. This might be nice at first, but it’s only natural to start getting irritated with the other person as well. Even if you get along great, there are chances that you might become co-dependent and withdrawn from socializing with other people.
If you notice such problems cropping up, or want to stave them off beforehand, make sure to schedule some alone downtime as well. Don’t feel guilty for this, as many folks need time apart even from the ones they love the most. A work break might not really refresh your mind if you have to force conversation with anyone, even your spouse.
If someone isn’t happy with such an arrangement, let them know that it’s not an insult to them if you want a bit of alone time. Go for a walk, retreat to another room for some reading, or just sit out on the balcony with a cup of tea. If one or both spouses are introverts, such down time is actually necessary in order for them to recharge and stay productive.
5. Plan Your Together Time
Yes, you’re together most of the time, but those work hours don’t really count. You’re not giving quality attention and care to your spouse while working, so it’s even more important to schedule proper time together.
Since you’re working in your respective spaces, plan specific times for enjoying as a couple or family. Have special dinners tightener, schedule a morning or evening walk, or work out together. Such practices are healthy for binding and won’t interfere with your work burdens.
6. Stay Patient
Whether you work from home or not, marriage still requires a lot of patience, compromise, self-sacrifice, and effort. It’s even more essential to practise these qualities when you’re working in a pandemic environment. Above all, realize that your spouse is someone you love and care about, so showing them forgiveness and grace is best for both of you.
When it’s time to work from home in the same home office, keep in mind that you might have to double down on this caring and giving factor. An extra dose of patience never hurts, and small gestures can help both of you get through the day with a smile. These gestures include getting the other person a cup of coffee, writing them a thoughtful note, getting them a few flowers, or just being supportive when they need your help.
Eventually, you and your spouse will find just the right stride for getting into the workflow and also spending time with each other. Define your boundaries, but remember why you’re together in the first place.
7. Invest in Gadgets
Working at home causes many distractions, and it’s not always other people at fault. You might get disturbed by the traffic outside and take out your frustration on your spouse. One way to deal with such issues is to get the things you need for a healthy work environment.
A white noise machine, even if it’s just a simple fan, can do wonders in creating a work-friendly environment. Sitting all day can have an adverse effect on your mood as well, so see if you can invest in a stand-up desk instead of a regular one.
For other problems, do some research and see if the solution lies in a gadget, some rearrangement, or something else. You might be surprised at how a little tweak can make your home office a haven for productive work.
When two or more adults are working at home full-time or even part-time, it can be very difficult to focus and give each other space as well. Keep in mind that a home office means more than having your own desk and laptop. The key is to communicate, work together, and find the middle way whenever possible. The tips above should be a good way to get you started. Take a look around and begin on the changes for more privacy and fewer fights.