The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unique challenges to most individuals. A new challenge for many is working at home with their partner. Millions of couples are now working from home together. It can be difficult to acclimate to spending the entire day with each other and getting adjusted to another person’s working style. If this is affecting you and your family, there are steps you can take to better manage time, working space, interruptions, and expectations.
You and your partner should not expect each other to understand differing schedules and work priorities. Be clear about your schedule and what needs to happen in order for each of you to have a successful and productive workday. Create rules about interruptions and respect your partner’s boundaries as well.
Set Clear Expectations
What has worked well for years to manage your home may not be what is best any longer. You may need to reevaluate your home obligations in order to fit within your work schedule and priorities. If you’re both at home, the times in which chores and other household tasks are completed may change. If you’re eating at home more often, the dishes may pile up faster. If the entire family is home all day as well, messes will become more frequent. If you’re needing to homeschool any children or take care of pets, those tasks will have to fit within your schedule as well. Don’t let it overwhelm you and cause resentment. It is easy to just assume that one partner will tackle certain tasks, but this can lead to frustrations. Be flexible and set the expectations early regarding what needs to be done within the home around your work schedules. Adjustments may need to be made along the way.
Avoid acting like true co-workers and take the time to reconnect as a couple. Schedule regular breaks throughout the week and take time to do activities together. Turn of phones and email notifications and pay attention to each other. When you’re working from home, it can become easy to never truly “turn off” from work. Go outside together, workout, or simply take the time to check-in and talk things over.
Remember, your partner is not your co-worker. Be creative and find what works for you. That may mean working in separate areas, working a few alternating hours, or create a weekly chore checklist. If working from home is causing stress or anxiety, reach out to a mental health professional. We are currently seeing patients remotely during this time.