Without question, we are living in times that are very different than anything many of us have ever experienced. The outbreak of COVID-19 has caused an unprecedented number of changes to most people’s lives in big ways and small, and in a very short period of time. Everyone is essentially receiving a crash course in how to adapt to pandemic life – and for many people, that crash course includes learning to work from home – often with your spouse or significant other.
When this concept is first considered, it may seem as if working from home together seems wonderful – after all, typically people choose one another because they’re in love, right?? At the beginning of a work-from-home situation, many people might lovingly imagine sharing a cup of coffee with their partner in the morning and beginning the workday together, happily working side-by-side and stopping for lunch and a conversation – perhaps a quick midday walk around the block. It sounds nice, in theory. And in some respects, it is.
The reality of the situation, for many people however, is that even if you are in a relationship with someone you love, you may not be used to working with them on a regular basis too. This leads to the inevitable question, “What are the minefields that some people encounter when working from home with their partner – and how can those minefields be navigated in a way that both keeps the relationship healthy and allows the work to get done?” These are good questions, and ones that are important to ask.
At GayRealEstate.com, our specialty is real estate – pairing members of the LGBTQ community with agents who can help them have the best home buying and selling experience possible. While that is true, it’s also important to keep in mind that at the end of the day, you have to live happily in the home you’ve chosen. That’s why we are glad to provide some helpful information on a few of these particular minefields, and what you might be able to do about them:
- Dividing Household Duties: Often, although not always, this can quickly become an issue when both partners begin to work at home. This can particularly be the case if one partner usually works remotely or stays at home with the children, and the other partner used to go to an office but now works at home. The partner who stays at home and typically takes care of all the chores may (understandably) expect the partner now working from home to pitch in with some of those household chores. To the stay-at-home parent, this seems reasonable, as after all, the parent working remotely is just in the next room. To the parent working remotely however, this seems like an intrusion on an already busy workday and particularly so in the midst of trying to navigate a “new normal” while working at home. As a result, a couple might butt heads over if (and when) both partners pitch in with the household chores.
While there is no easy answer to this issue, one suggestion is for the couple to sit down calmly and discuss the chores that are typically accomplished during the day. While the partner who typically does those chores is acutely aware of what is needed and when, it is entirely possible that the partner who usually works outside of the home has no idea what actually occurs with respect to the chores on a day-to-day basis. The partner working outside of the home may be completely willing to help once he or she understands what’s needed– even if he or she may not be able to help at exactly the time needed. Many couples have had success reviewing the chores that need to be finished and discussing a time that each partner feels that they will be free and able to help contribute to getting those chores done. By compromising and cooperating, this issue can usually be taken care of to everyone’s satisfaction.
- Creating Your Own Workspaces: Another issue that commonly arises when both partners begin working from home is the issue of who will work where, and how the workspace will be designed. No matter how much a couple might enjoy being together, it is unlikely that every couple is going to have the same working style and the same preferences regarding how their office space is arranged. Simply sitting down together and trying to accomplish all of your work without thinking this through ahead of time can make circumstances difficult.
Instead, it may be best to designate a specific area of your house for work, including specific areas where you will each be working from home. Each partner should arrange their area in the way that works best for their working style and needs. Having these workstations with office seating in separate rooms or even separate floors of the home if possible is not necessarily a bad idea. Doing so avoids the conflict of having one partner encroaching on the space of the other or feeling the need to be especially quiet during conference calls or Zoom meetings. You can always enjoy time together in a space that you both share at the end of a workday, and sometimes, some space apart where you can each focus and accomplish what you need to is exactly what’s needed. Sometimes, making that choice is better for the relationship than insisting upon working together in the same room at the same table each day.
- Setting Aside Quality Time: When many couples think about working from home, one or both partners might be excited about the idea of the extra time together. This is understandable, and is generally a positive thing. However, it can quickly become an issue of contention when one spouse has a full workday and feels busy and unable to take time away from the job, and the other spouse regularly wants to go on a walk or share lunch together or stop for a midday lunch or cup of coffee.
It’s best for the couple to sit down ahead of time and discuss the types of breaks they typically take during the day – maybe schedule a lunch date once or twice a week, or promise each other that you’re going to walk at the end of the day if you’re not able to do it during the workday. Simply recognizing the wishes and preferences of the other and trying to come up with a compromise will go a long way toward ensuring the happiness of both people
Without question, working from home can be both a positive and a negative. It’s important to go into the situation with a realistic outlook – knowing that there will certainly be benefits, but there will also be difficulties that you will need to navigate together to make it work. At GayRealEstate.com, we are here for you – whether you have real estate needs, or whether you are simply trying to live the best life you can in the home that you’ve chosen. Our goal is happy clients and happy homes – and we are here for you. Visit us online www.GayRealEstate.com or call us any time 888-420-MOVE (6683).