We work with a lot of small businesses run by couples who are familiar with the terrain of working and living together 24/7. As we settle into the new reality of self-isolation, most of us are now juggling working, parenting and living from home (as if maintaining a work/life/parent/relationship/self-care balance wasn’t hard enough already).
We wanted to share some wisdom we’ve learned from couples who work remotely successfully. Here are five tips for successfully navigating working from home with your spouse or partner, whether you’re in business together or not.
TALK TO EACH OTHER
Maybe this is an obvious one, but make sure you have some big talks about what each of you need in work and life right now. If you work on your business together, align your goals, your purpose and vision.
If you have separate work lives, make sure your spouse or partner understands what you need to get done and when, and work out how you can support each other.
Get clear on who’s taking care of what and when.
Of course, working from home and/or on a business is not static. Scheduling check-in times might make sense for you. What’s working? What’s not working? What do you need more of from each other?
Check out this conversation between Tim Ferriss and Brené Brown. At around 47:00 they offer great insight on how they keep their relationships (and families) intact with daily and weekly check ins.
CREATE A SCHEDULE
You’ve created a bang-up homeschool schedule for your kids—do the same for yourselves! Set clear times for each of you to work, parent, take breaks and eat together. A schedule will help you set expectations, know what’s coming and manage your time.
Physical boundaries—like carving out a work space if you don’t have a clear cut home office—are important. Technology and personal boundaries are also going to help you avoid friction while working remotely.
If you are running a business together, make sure you set times when talking shop is off the table.
Identify times when your phones are down and you are fully present with each other and your family. Obvious times might be mealtime. But maybe you have time for an hour each morning and evening to set aside the news and just be with each other too.
Be clear about what boundaries you need to stay sane and productive. For example:
- Conference calls: Take calls in a separate room with the door closed. If kids are in the mix and one parent is able, take the kids outside. (Also: It's OK to use Netflix! In this excellent podcast on How to Cope with the Corona Virus from Your Parenting Mojo, Jen Lumanlan reminds us that we shouldn't worry too much about the kids having a little more screen time right now.)
- Use noise-cancelling headphones if you're working in the same space.
CARVE OUT TIME FOR YOURSELVES (INDIVIDUALLY AND AS A COUPLE)
When you are talking and creating your remote work schedule, get clear on what each of you needs: Exercise? Time outside? Time to do nothing? What restores you? What invigorates you? What does self-care mean and look like to each of you?
Don’t wait for your spouse or partner to anticipate what you need and offer it to you. Tell them precisely what you need, listen to what they need and plug it all into the schedule.
There’s also your relationship to tend to. Make sure you have some time to be together that’s not working, parenting and doing chores.
RESPECT EACH OTHER’S PRIORITIES
If you’re working together on your business, you each bring different strengths and perspectives to the table. Your priorities might not always align. That’s a good thing. Listen, be flexible and support each other.
If you have separate work lives, make sure you hold the space for what your partner has on the go.
We hope everyone’s doing OK out there. Remember to take it easy on yourself (and your partner). If you have tips and tricks for working well together at home, please share them with us on social media!
More resources from around the web:
Productivity playlists from HubSpot.
How to solve remote work challenges from Expand the Room
How to work from home without losing it on your partner and kids from The Huffington Post
Read more about Entrepreneur Life topics that may be helpful to you and your small business.