How to WFH Without Killing Your Partner
Whether you’re used to working from home or not, doing so in tandem with your partner can be tricky. Here’s how to (both) survive lockdown
Six weeks ago, my boyfriend moved in. It was somewhat accidental, and I won’t bore you with his rental market woes, but the important part is, he came to stay and he’s never left. Cue tweeting birds, rainbows and heart eyes, right?
Well, yes and no. Because two weeks ago, my boyfriend was ordered to work from home. Indefinitely. And the problem with that is home is where I usually work. We are now an office of two.
As more and more cities, states and countries force their citizens into either enforced- or self-isolation, it’s a situation an increasing number of couples are facing. And while it would be all too easy to skive off in favour of staring, horror-struck, at the TV or Twitter all day, right now, few of us need more Covid-19 scare stories. What we need is to work out how to work. How to adapt and thrive. And right now, for most of us, that means learning to share a workspace without killing each other.
So, while I can’t promise you won’t have to bite your tongue on occasion (or hourly), here are some tried and tested ways to make the process just a little bit easier.
Of course your way is best. I don’t doubt it. But in the interests of diplomacy, it would be wise to accept that we all have different styles of working – and this tends to be an area that we have never needed to assess for compatibility when it comes to our romantic partners. So, if you’ve been understandably more interested in how you match up in the bedroom than the boardroom, it’s time to take stock.
While I tend to set myself a task list at the start of the day, and work to rough hours, I will also intersperse my day with tackling little domestic jobs. I work from home all the time, and can always return to my list in the evening.
For my other half, while his location has changed, his working hours have not. As such, I’m trying to learn to reign in my need to do multiple loads of laundry, run the dishwasher and noisily prep dinner while he’s working in the kitchen from nine until five. Which brings me to point two…
I know it might seem like a nice idea to spend your working day gazing lovingly at each other over the kitchen table. But in reality, it’s hard to see the pinnacle of someone’s sex appeal when they’re earnestly discussing a spreadsheet of stationary supplies with Brian from accounts. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder – and with all this time cooped up together looming in the future, absence is going to become a hard fought for commodity.
So, set yourself up in different rooms. Ideally at opposite ends of the house. Or on different floors. And if that sounds brutal, console yourself with the idea that you can always sneak a snog when you do venture down for a cup of tea. And while we’re on the subject of tea…
We’ve all worked in offices where one person never takes their turn in making the tea. No one likes that person, right? Your new home office is no different. Take it in turns on the tea run.
Yes, it’s a frivolous example, but that idea of extending your friendly office persona can go a long way to keeping things harmonious at home. By all means stop for a little chat when you’re headed for the loo, but don’t hog each other’s time more than you would if you were in a real office. Don’t turn up your tunes while the other is on a conference call, forgive any kitchen table mess during working hours, and generally try to think like a good colleague rather than a romantic partner. Who cares if you’re someone who washes your cup between every drink, and he’s someone who fills the sink with teaspoons? As long as they get cleaned up at the end of the day without the need for a pass-agg Clip Art poster, it’s all good. And if things get really bad, you can always take this advice from Molly Tolsky on Twitter…
Honestly, I can’t stress this enough. GET. DRESSED. While there’s no need to don a full Working Girl skirt suit every day, try to stem your instinct to work from beneath the duvet wearing your warmest flannel jammies while eating Nutella from the jar (just me?), at least until dress down Friday. Just because we’re all working from home doesn’t mean we can’t maintain some modicum of standards, right? Right?!
And there you have it. Your take on this might well be different, but by basically following the same protocols you use to not be an asshole in the office, you too can work like a pro in your own home, and still look forward to shouting “honey, I’m home” at 5pm. And the best part is, you don’t have to remember your brolly for the soggy trudge home from the Tube. Every cloud.