6 Tips for Staying Productive while WFH with your Significant Other

For many, working from home with a significant other around has become a necessity.  While the idea may sound romantic, in reality it’s likely not. 

The pandemic has forced couples to spend more time together than they were typically used to - an overwhelming experience in and of itself.  Add working together in the same space into the mix and it becomes significantly more difficult to maintain relationship harmony. 

After months of practice, there are some key learnings that can help couples make it work. Knowing what to expect and managing those potential challenges can set you up for success, and even leave room for some fun. 

Tips for Staying Productive Around Your SO

  1. Make sure each person has a designated workspace in the home, if possible. Close the door to your respective work area for important calls and meetings so you cannot be interrupted. If there are no physical barriers, a simple post-it or visual cue can provide some relief. A “Please don’t interrupt now” or “Do not disturb” handwritten message, or even a red stop sign image can let your partner know that you need quiet.Identify areas of the house (or times of the day if space is tight) where distractions are not allowed - it’s where you go to craft an important email or focus on a big project.
  2. Remember that life still happens. There are going to be days and moments when you or the pair of you need to address a personal matter (i.e. bills, doctor appointments, you name it!). Rather than your partner interrupting your day to discuss a personal issue, agree on a time or preferred day of the week when you both have the opportunity to step away from work and focus on something else.Distracting each other without warning will only make things worse for you both.
  3. Have a conversation about meals and come to an agreement. Who is making breakfast? What about dinner? Talking about those details openly can mitigate unwarranted expectations and disappointment.  Creating a communal snack table can help ensure that you take breaks throughout the day, giving your brain time to recharge, which is critical to your mental well-being, which will in turn improve your relationship health.And here’s a pro tip! If your significant other is having an especially busy morning or day and you happen to have a little more flexibility, try bringing them coffee or tea, or even a snack to keep their endurance up. It will go a long way.
  4. Set some simple ground rules. Who should open the door if someone rings the bell? What happens if you’re both on the phone? If you’re in a common space, do you want to hear background music? If music only works for one of you, invest in good quality headphones so you (or your partner) can stay focused. Stick to a schedule - it may be flexible but it’s helpful to have a starting point that you’re both aware of.
  5. If there are kids around, make sure it's clear who’s taking care of them. This is an especially big issue today when so many children are remote learning at home, and aren’t at school. Parents: Agree in advance on a childcare plan. Try taking turns or creating a schedule so you are aligned on expectations for your children’s  care, and to be certain they're getting the support they need.
  6. Over-communicate. This is so important at work (see our recent blog on leadership tips for remote teams), and equally important in a relationship. We often assume that our partner knows what we’re thinking or feeling (I know I do!). By actively communicating your needs and concerns, you will improve trust and create a sense of security, while also staying connected.By reviewing your calendars together before kicking off the workday, for example, and communicating any really important meetings or calls, both parties will be on the same page and aware when quiet is really key.Don’t be afraid to let your partner know if you are having a bad day or struggling with a project. Let them know if you need help. Ask for alone time when you need it - even 10 minutes for yourself can make a difference.Whatever it is, share. Better communication can make this new environment much more liveable.

Be More Mindful

At the end of the day, we all need to be a little more mindful. Would it be easier to not work and live in the same place? Maybe. Could your relationship use some space? Possibly. 

But, our realities have changed and there are so many outside stressors wreaking havoc on our lives. Finding ways to keep things at home stress-free can mean the difference between a healthy mental state and an unhealthy one.

Working from home with your significant other may not always be easy, but it’s doable. Remember  that no one’s job is more important than the other’s. Remember to be understanding and supportive even when it's hard or your day stinks. Set simple rules even if it feels strange. Communicate, communicate, communicate.  It's so easy to get caught up in work, but your relationship is just as important as your job.

Also, try to have fun. Just because you need to get work done in your home environment doesn't mean you can't have fun while doing it.

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