office. Whether it’s an unexpected redundancy, midlife career breakdown ,the change in dynamic can be unsettling. You’re not just lovers, you’re coworkers.hings get really interesting as a couple when it’s the pair of you using your home as an
Don’t lie in. Yes, it’s so cosy and, look, your partner is right there and nobody has to commute so, hey, maybe you could work from bed, right? Absolutely not. Working from bed is an earned privilege for longstanding homeworkers only, takes considerable skill and is a solo pursuit. It must never be done alongside a partner. Get up at the normal time, as if you’re travelling in, shower, have breakfast and then be ready to start.
Unless you’re collaborating on something – hell, even if you are collaborating – work in different rooms if you have the space. Why? Well, you know how you kind of wanted to garrotte office colleagues sometimes and the only thing keeping you going was clocking out at 5:30pm or whenever? When you both work from home, there’s no escape.
Find ways to maintain your individuality
Sometimes when couples work too closely, they find it difficult to maintain a sense of identity and individuality. I recently read about a couple that works together and one of the ways they maintain their individuality is by walking to work separately. This gives each of them time alone and some separation from the other. Make sure you get enough alone time, even if it’s just to be alone with your thoughts. Everyone needs a little space.
Insist on them, even if you live in a 70-room manor house in Gloucestershire. It’s amazing how easily you can be distracted by someone else just… existing. Remove them from your world by encasing yourself in your own, happily imprisoned by a wall of sound. It also means you don’t have to endure their music taste, tepid takes on the day’s news, and small exclamations at an email they’ve received from Aubrey in accounts.
Tea break etiquette
In an office, if you’re working on someone else’s dime and clock-watching, those shleps to the kitchen are the necessary self-care you need to break up the monotony. But there’s a common agreement between you and colleagues that you won’t rip the arse out of it, for fear of losing the privilege. At home, you’ll drink untold cups of tea – who’s to stop you? Whoever initiates the break must make the tea and then, upon delivering it, engage in up to three minutes of ephemeral chitchat before returning to their own workstation.
Coordinated lunch breaks
I am making this sound like prison, aren’t I? That’s because all employment is a form of incarceration, wherever you are! Anyway, have lunch together, because you’re not animals. Catch up, have a break, be around each other. Maybe shove a load of washing on so you don’t have to do it later. Taking lunch at a different time may distract the other and will lead to food envy.
You will say you must do this, but you won’t have time. Do it anyway. Stretch your legs and your brains and talk about something that’s not work-related. Make sure it’s just a short stroll, though, and not a “little diversion” to the high street for a shopping spree.
Respect their daily work routine
If you’re the interloper, don’t be shocked by the ridiculous things your love may do as part of their working day. So they repeat mindfulness mantras before they go online or bounce ideas around by sitting on the floor and juggling Champagne corks. So what? Homeworkers are weird – that’s why we can’t go into offices. People call security..
Remember, you’re at work, but you’re not actually at work. Swap jobs for half a day and see how far you get before somebody notices you get promoted or fired! During video calls, help them make a good impression by conjuring up your interior design skills and dressing their background “space”. This can be an art project you can work on together! Pretend to be their secretary!
Treats in the usual place
The only good thing about working in an office is the “treats in the usual place” email that goes round after someone has been on holiday/won a contract/ordered too many sandwiches in a meeting/gone to the shop and spent £50 on petty cash on Mini Eggs. Re-create this at home, first of all by designating a “usual place” – an end of kitchen worktop or coffee table will do, instead of the usual filing cabinet or empty desk of a now-redundant colleague. Then put some “treats” in it.
Agree when to stop working so leisure time can begin. Then actually finish, clear away the laptop, move away from the desk and change right into your Cookie Monster onesie and become “home you”.
Marriage comes first
The most important thing to keep in mind, no matter what’s going on in your business, is that your marriage must come first. If you try all of these strategies and working together still isn’t working out for you, then the most important thing is that you protect your marriage. That might mean that one of you has to step out of the business and find another venue for your talents, or if you’re a home-based business. What’s most important is that you find the solution that preserves your relationship and protects your business. But remember… marriage comes before business!
Remember, you love each other
Yes, you will find new ways to be annoyed by them – have they always whistled? – but the best thing about working at home together? It’s nice to work alongside someone you fancy for a change and it can be proof that workplace romances really do work out.