Illustration of people working remotely
By Alana Putterman Jun 9 2020 Blog

Working From Home 101: Coworking With a Partner

I’ve had the pleasure of working from home with my husband for several years. The honeymoon phase of spending 24/7/365 together certainly ebbs and flows, but through trial and error, we’ve found many ways to optimize our “working” relationship.

Here are my five top tips for coworking with a partner:

1. Take turns making lunch

This prevents you from wasting an hour every day asking, “What do we want to eat?” Meanwhile, it feels luxurious on the days your partner makes the meal.

Alternatively, trade off tasks instead of days⁠—for example, one of you  cleans and the other makes meals.

2. Show each other your work

Ask for some help on something or show off a new project. It’s amazing how much better your work gets when you have a second set of eyes. Even if it’s just “Can you read this email before I send it?”

And, learn about your partner’s job! It’s shocking how many couples know almost nothing about how their partner spends most of their time. Even if it’s just “What does that acronym you said on that call mean?” Apparently all I say everyday is KPI, CPM, and ROI…

3. Have clear boundaries

Ask before you interrupt and don’t get mad if your partner is busy. Set some clear boundaries like, “When my headphones are on I can’t talk.”

It’s also helpful to have a clear boundary activity between working and not working. Even if it’s just “We’ll go for a walk at 6pm.” Otherwise you never really stop working.

4. Plan some post-isolation fun stuff

Start planning a few things you can’t do right now that you’ll do afterwards. Even if it’s just a big dinner or a road trip. Give yourselves something exciting to look forward to.

5. Don’t forget the small stuff:

  • Talk about your calendars in the morning. Particularly if you’re going to have some times where you’ll need silence.
  • You’re both probably going to snap at one point. That’s OK! You’re mixing work and personal life stressors, and it takes some getting used to.
  • Keep your place clean.
  • Don’t let tiny annoyances build up⁠—say something early on. Alternatively, try to be extra considerate about things like leg-tapping or loud typing.
  • Take advantage of this opportunity! Talk during lunch, have fun, vent about work, see what your partner is like in a totally different environment, etc.
  • Overcommunicate your needs.
  • K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid!)

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