You’re both working your jobs/careers at home. It was hard not getting distracted when it was just one of you and now there are two!
Here are discussion questions and suggestions to figure out how to successfully set up and work in your new situation.
What kind of daily work do you do?
- Imagine you’re both at your regular offices. How often are you on the phone? In meetings? Do you need a big screen because of the work you do (desktop versus Surface Pro/laptop, etc.). This helps you figure out who needs what equipment and whether you can be in the same office space, can’t be, or can be but with a backup plan should you both have meetings at the same time.
- Choose a “home base” so your stuff has one place where you know you can find it. That can be a desk, a part of a counter top, a room or a briefcase you carry around; whatever you need, but one place. We don’t know how long this will last, so assume it’s permanent.
- Set up your new home office right away. You have time at night or on a weekend; don’t delay or you’ll have a backlog and get overwhelmed.
- What other types of supplies do you have typically by your side (e.g., if you work at a corporation, or teach, or in a mental health capacity). Think about your usual office. What’s missing? Find it and add it in, so you’re as comfortable and productive as you can be.
- What hours will you work? It maybe that working with less overlap is better for you or your family.
Every night, compare the next day’s work schedules
- This is so you don’t clash, where you’re both trying to talk on your phone at the same time. Or you’re both trying to conduct an online video meeting at the same time. This is why my first point is important; you need a second space, far enough away from each other that you can handle two meetings or calls at the same time. If you have to, take a call in another room temporarily then return to your home base.
- If you have to, take a call in another room temporarily then return to your home base- sounds easy, right? Think about getting ready for a meeting at your regular office though: you might bring a laptop or notebook for notes, your water container in case you start coughing, your slides or a document to share, etc. Keep a bag of any sort at your home base, so if you need to “travel” to another part of the house for a meeting, the bag is filled with those supplies. It will make a difference where you go if you consider phone vs. video meetings, too.
- If you’re moving to another space, add a reminder to your calendar to stop your other work 15 minutes before then. You’re going to need time to get anything you need gathered together, go the place, get set up and comfortable, and have an extra minute or two to clear your head and get ready to pay attention.
Kids at home? And regular household tasks.
- If you have kids at home: are they doing remote learning and who will occasionally check on them (add it to your calendar to remind yourself if you need to). What do they usually do after school and which of you can take a break at that time? Or do you work different hours to accommodate? Will you both do that? Rotate responsibility?
- To stay connected, since you ARE both working out of your home, compare schedules. Can you eat lunch together? Take a break together? What time will you both end work?
- How will you both transition out of work mode and into home mode, without a commute? It’ll be difficult for some people to mentally shut off work, so figure out ways you typically unwind and give each other the time and space to do so.
- Your kids may need some transition time, so maybe a drive out together or a walk together would help everyone. Or go crazy in your living room with “let loose” music. Play a game together.
- Meals: will you handle prep and cooking as you usually do or is it better to shift things between you?
- Laundry: you can do it during the day since you’re both at home, but it is distracting when you consider the whole process and takes up work time.
When companies allow people to work from home, the accent is on the “work” and the home is the office now. Be careful of how much you mix and match home/work tasks during what is supposed to be your workday. The results still need to be there.
If you need transition tasks to help you clear your mind from what client to the next or one project to the next: take a 5 minute walk, play music, do stretching or yoga for 5-10 minutes, walk outside and breathe in fresh air for a few minutes.
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