5 Tips for Working at Home with Your Spouse

August 3, 2010

Relationships and work don't always mix well. Image via AMC's Mad Men blog.

It's one thing to stay on task and keep motivated while working from home. Now think about working from home WITH your spouse. In today's flat economy, many couples are adding office mates to their list of shared roles: housemates, husband and wife, parents, lovers, business owners ... When there are two people in a relationship, living together and working together, boundaries become blurry and communication can break down. Here are some tips for sharing a home office and keeping your work and love life running smoothly. 1. Set ground rules You may think you know your spouse well, but if you are witnessing his or her working style for the first time, you may be surprised by the strange habits and nuances that emerge. Air out any concerns or needs you each have such as noise levels, whether the TV is off limits, who will walk the dog and other preferences. It helps to be on the same page about expectations, including a daily start and stop time and how to manage your shared responsibilities such as cooking, childcare or grocery runs. 2. Respect your partner's space It is ideal to work in separate rooms or at separate desks and to act in much the same way you do when in an office environment. Keep quiet, use headphones, take phone calls behind a closed door and don't interrupt your partner's work flow. If you need to "take a break" from work, do so in a part of the house that's not going to affect your partner's concentration. 3. Write it down When working from home with a spouse it's tempting to just shout out across the room "Hey we're out of toilet paper!" or "Do you want to go to see "Inception" tonight?" Don't give into this temptation. Put a lid on these unnecessary communications by writing down a list of whatever it is that's on your mind. You can consult the list later and talk about it after work is done. 4. Clock out When you set the ground rules, be sure to agree on a satisfactory "quitting time" that works for both of you. It's best to be on the same page about this, so that you can both unplug, shut down the work stations and start to view your office as a home again. This is harder than it sounds. It can be tempting to return to the desk in the evening to "check in" or "fix something," but it's healthier for your work and your relationship to walk away for a few hours and start fresh in the morning. 5. Get out If you are both home all day, every day, together, things can get pretty stagnant. Find time to get out of the house in the evenings for a hike, a beer or a movie. Make plans with friends and give each other opportunities for alone time in the house, too. This will help keep your home office routine fresh! Do you work at home with a spouse? Please share your thoughts and tips in the comments below.

Anonymous's picture
January 07, 2016 03:21 am #

[...] Working from home can be distracting. Food, phone calls, food, television, food: There’s a lot to easily pull you away from doing your job. Well, imagine how distracting it can be if your significant other works from home, too. PsPrint blogger Britt shares some helpful advice for staying focused and not letting work get in the way of your relationship in her post, “5 Tips for Working at Home With Your Spouse.” [...]

Anonymous's picture
January 07, 2016 03:21 am #

This is very useful advice as sharing working space and living space with someone can be very trying. It's hard to switch off and separate the two, particularly if you're both very motivated to your work.

Anonymous's picture
January 07, 2016 03:21 am #

[...] Do you work from home with a significant other? Then you’ll need these tips for keeping your relationship and work separate… (read more) [...]

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