How to Work from Home with Your Partner (During COVID-19 and Beyond)
COVID-19 has changed life in a lot of ways for people. One of those ways? Figuring out how you’re supposed to work from home with your partner. And that’s no small thing to get used to, am I right?!
On top of everything else, you’re somehow supposed to balance work, home life, and each other all at once and all the time. That’s a lot to get used to, I hear ya.
I’ve been working from home with my husband, Jonathan, for the past two and a half years (so I can’t say being quarantined has changed much for us! HA!). But you know what? It’s been the best years of our married life, no joke! Now I don’t know what I’d do with myself if one of us had to go back to a traditional job.
We weren’t thrown into working from home together unexpectedly, like a lot of people have had recently with COVID-19, so we were fortunate to get to plan for us both being together all the time.
But whether you planned on it or you got forced into it, don’t stress about it anymore — I got you!
I pulled together the seven keys to working from home with your partner that Jonathan and I do every day.
1. Share your schedules with each other
Neither of us expect the other to keep track of our own work schedules all the time. So at the beginning of the day, I’ll let Jonathan know what calls I have planned or if it’s going to be a super busy day where I’ll really need to be face down, concentrating hard on work. He’ll let me know what coaching clients he has coming.
That way we both know what to expect with each other’s day and can plan accordingly. I won’t barge into the gym when he has a client, and he won’t try have a conversation with me or run the vacuum cleaner while I’m on a call.
Setting expectations at the beginning of the day will help you plan for the day ahead and help you know what kind of work loads you’re both dealing with so you’ll know how much space the other person needs.
2. Shut the door to your office area
Don’t get me wrong — I love working from home so I can see my husband whenever I want! But I also need to concentrate to get stuff done, and I’ll get pretty frustrated if I keep getting interrupted.
Even though we’ve gone over our schedules with each other, I’ll also make sure that before a call or if I’m really needing some time to do deep work, I’ll shut my door.
We’ve established beforehand that if my door is shut, that means I’m needing the space to myself. When I’m ready for a break, I’ll open my door back up.
I’m fortunate to have an office where I work, so I can close my door. Jonathan actually prefers to do his laptop work wherever he feels like it for the day — in his office, on the couch, in the kitchen… He doesn’t always have a door to close, so he’ll put ear plugs in to create his own cone of silence or he’ll put headphones on.
Either way, whether you have a door to shut or ear plugs to put in, make sure you have a way to block out distractions during the day.
3. Share responsibilities
Now this will definitely vary per household. I’m not going to say who should do what or I’ll end up in trouble!
The point is to make sure you divvy up responsibilities so both of you have time to work from home and make sure the house doesn’t fall apart.
We split up our responsibilities (sounds so much better than chores!) according to our schedules. I have more hours in my work day than Jonathan does, so he actually does most of the opportunities (another good word instead of chores!) around the house. There’s one day of the week where he trains clients late and we have a Bible study in our home in the evening, so since I get off work before he does, I’ll get the house ready for everyone coming over. My point is, it’s all about being flexible and working with each other’s work schedule.
So sit down and figure out who is busy when and who can handle what, and then put your big girl panties on (or your big boy briefs) and help each other out with stuff around the house (even if it isn’t very fun…).
4. Have your decompress time
When I’m done with work at the end of the day, my brain needs a break and I need space to transition out of work mode. If I don’t take that time and jump right into spending time with Jonathan, I’m a lot shorter on patience and then we both end up grumpy. And that’s not a way to spend an evening.
So plan to take a breather after work, even if it’s just ten or fifteen minutes. Play on your phone, organize something, start dinner, get a shower, stretch, go for a quick walk around the neighborhood…whatever you need to do to shake the day off and feel better before you hang out for the rest of the evening.
Just talk to each other.
Whether you’ve been married 50 minutes or 50 years, you can’t read each other’s mind all the time. You’ll save yourself so much time, stress, and confusion if you just…talk!
Jonathan and I are always communicating with each other to make this work-from-home thing work. We talk about our schedules. We talk when we’re going to have client communication so we can respect each other’s boundaries. We talk about what responsibilities we’ll share during the day. We’ll talk about our work during the day while we’re working and then after work, we talk about other stuff.
We just talk. The good and the bad. Sure, sometimes we annoy each other, but then we work through that and get back to the good.
When you talk to each other, you’ll not have to worry about unspoken expectations. And you’ll both be on the same page to be successful every day.
6. Make time for each other outside of work, even if it’s little things
One of my biggest regrets when I go to bed at night after a full day of work, work, work is I had no real time spent connecting with Jonathan.
When you work from home, sometimes it’s hard to draw that line between work life and home life. It just all blends together. And especially if you’re a type-A workaholic like me, it’s hard to ever stop working.
But I have to stop and remind myself that I don’t work from home so I can spend my life wrapped up in work, not ever spending any of that time with each other.
Whether you made the choice to work from home with your spouse, like we did, or you were forced into it with COVID-19, make the very best of it!
So in the middle of all the work and other responsibilities on your plates, try to make it a point to actually spend some quality time together throughout the day. It might be lunch in your home office space together or taking a break after a work call to talk for a few minutes. Maybe It’s having supper together after work or playing a multiplayer game on your phones.
Whatever it is, spend time with each other outside of work. It will make your work days go better. Which in turn makes your life outside of work better. It’s just a happy circle when you get it going.
7. Give each other grace
Making the switch to both of you working from home can be different enough to get used to. Let alone in the middle of a quarantine when stress levels are already high.
It’s bound to happen: Both of you will say something snarky. Deep work time will get interrupted. And there will be arguments over how the dishwasher should be loaded.
That’s when you’ll have to remember to give each other grace…and lots of it.
Be the bigger person and admit when you didn’t react the right way. Determine to handle it better next time. And that next time…take a deep breath and just let it all go. If it bothers you enough to talk about it, then communicate that! (Just don’t forget that a soft answer turneth away wrath — give the same grace to your partner you’d want them to give to you!)
And if it’s not a big deal, don’t sweat it. Does it really, actually matter if the bowls and spoons are in the dishwasher like you would do it? Switch it up and think about how awesome it is you don’t actually have to load the dishwasher!
Giving grace is probably the hardest of these steps to successfully working from home with your partner, but it’s also the secret sauce to making your new work-from-home life not just doable but happy too.
Who knows! You may just decide you want to keep working from home with each other after COVID-19 is gone.
If you’re just getting used to working from home together OR you’ve done it for a while but just haven’t gotten into a good routine, I’m really excited for you to give these ideas a try!
And be sure to give them a good try. And by that I mean don’t try them for a minute once and then say it didn’t work.
Just like anything worthwhile, you’re going to have to give it a solid effort before you get into your groove. Start by sharing this post with your partner and then sit down and talk to each other about how you can make working from home not just doable…but actually FUN!
After all, you have this time together now, why not make the best of it?
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Have you tried any of these ideas for working from home with your partner? What’s the best way you’ve found in your own experience? Comment below and let me know!