5 things to know if you and your partner are both working from home

posted on May 4, 2020 | by Sanhita Mukherjee

5 things to know if you and your partner are both working from home

You know that one coworker (let’s call him Darcy) who always plays loud music, never steps outside when taking a personal phone call, and leaves coffee mugs lying around your shared desk? If you’re locking down with your partner, you may realize that you’re each other’s Darcy —and not exactly in a Pride and Prejudice way. And unlike when you’re at work, you don’t even have to be professional when you deal with this Darcy. 

But don’t worry—it gets better. My boyfriend and I have been working together from home for about a year now (I am a freelance writer, he works remotely). Here are a few things we noticed when we first started working from home. I hope you find these useful…!

1. Their work habits can be quite distracting (and so can yours)

If you hadn’t seen your partner in full work mode before, you may have had quite a few revelations already. For instance, you may have found out that they have a work laugh or a meeting voice. Or that they are actually super patient during calls and can, in fact, indulge in small talk!

 At the other, less fun end of the spectrum, you may have discovered that they have some work habits that are not quite compatible with yours. Things like having loud music on in the background or pacing around the house while taking calls can be pretty distracting if you’re someone who needs peace and quiet to be able to focus. Communicate your needs clearly—they probably don’t even notice these habits or know that they are distracting. Also, chances are that you may have some similar, distracting habits yourself. (I hadn’t realized that when I write something, I tend to read it out loud!) Be patient and hear them out when they point these out to you.

2. The urge to nap/snack/watch videos suddenly doubles

Among all the things that couples share, bad habits are pretty high up on the list. I cannot even count the number of times I’ve eaten healthy all day—but then my boyfriend opens up a bag of chips, and I’m right there, consuming my fair share. This tendency becomes extra significant when you’re both working from home—the urge to take naps or extended breaks just doubles.

 Working from separate rooms helps to some extent. But what also helps is to plan around it. Stock up on healthy snacks, and chalk out a few breaks in your schedule. That way, you can snack and watch a couple of videos with your partner when you want to, without feeling deprived. But once your break is up, get yourself back to work. This is a great way to make working from home more fun without completely killing your productivity.

3. Watch out for small things spiraling into big fights

When you’re not at home for much of the day, the occasional errant sock or hair in the shower drain may not be such a big deal. But when you’re together 24/7, these little annoyances are tougher to ignore. And these trivial disagreements have a tendency to snowball into bigger fights.

Now, you already know that it’s best to talk through these issues and get them sorted out, so I won’t go into that. But I will say this—if you are worried about the number of fights you’ve been having, don’t freak out just yet. Any change in the relationship takes a while to get used to —and this is a big change to go through at a time when things are already stressful enough. Give it some time, and you may find that you’re back in sync soon enough.

4. You may need to coordinate with each other as you work

When the lockdowns first started, one of the first things you probably did was to create separate, designated work areas. But unless you live in a big house with lots of different rooms to choose from, you may soon find that there are certain things that are missing from each of your workspaces. 

For instance, my boyfriend likes having a more formal work set up, so he takes the study table. But that side of our house opens up to a balcony, so it can get a little noisy. I prefer the room that gets more sunlight in the evening—but that means I work from a more informal workspace. Rather than having hard and fast rules about sticking to our own work areas, we find it more convenient to just coordinate our schedules with each other a little bit. So when he has an important call and doesn’t want distracting background noises, he shifts to my workspace and I head to the other room. Likewise, when I want to work from the cozy armchair, I move to the workspace that is technically ‘his.’

5. You may forget to plan fun stuff together

When you’re living together, working together, and doing chores together, spending quality time can totally slip under the radar. You may feel like you’re spending so much time together already —so that counts, right? But unless both of you really like cleaning and doing the dishes, you’ll start feeling the effects of this. Boredom and monotony can quickly take the spark out of any relationship.

 I know date night options are a little thin on the ground right now, but remember to do some small fun things throughout the day. Take your lunch break at the same time if you can, and enjoy a meal together away from the emails and Slack notifications. Celebrate Fridays by shaking up some fancy cocktails and playing your favorite board games. Plan out some fun activities over the weekend too, like movie nights, treasure hunts, or at-home spa dates. It doesn’t matter how simple or elaborate these plans are, as long as they are things you want to do—and not stuff that you have to do.

I hope these tips helped. Let’s get through these lockdowns together!