Working from home has its benefits to be sure. You can often set your own hours, your commute is awesome (from the bed to the couch or office) and you don’t have to deal with annoying co-workers. If, that is, you’re the only one in a relationship who works from home.
If you and your significant other both work from home, however, you’re likely dealing with a whole other set of issues. My fiancé and I are both freelancers and thus often find ourselves plugging away on our separate projects in the same 900-square-foot apartment. While you might think it would be nice to work in close proximity to the person you love, it’s usually more irritating than anything else.
However, that being said, we’ve come up with some ways to make it tolerable without storming out on the relationship. Here are the seven problems we encounter on a daily basis, and the solutions we’ve worked out after much trial and error (AKA yelling and screaming).
1. Your work rhythms clash
My fiancé does video production, and he likes to do yoga at 6 a.m. before jumping into editing. I, on the other hand, am a writer, and don’t usually get my workday started until 8:15. That means he usually wants to take a break and talk to me right when I’m starting to get serious. Needless to say, this is irritating for me, and subsequently sad for him.
Solution: If I’m really in a groove and see him walking toward me, I shake my head, and he knows to leave me be. However, if I can take a moment, I smile at him and we chat for a couple of minutes.
2. Phone calls
Every time my guy has to make a long work call, I’m in the middle of a writing tear, and I cannot concentrate with any conflicting ambient noise.
Solution: Either he takes a walk around the park during the call or, if he needs to be near a computer, I go to the local coffee shop and deal with the less offensive ambient noise there.
3. No conference room
We live in a small two-bedroom in Brooklyn, that really should’ve been labeled a one and a half bedroom. We use the half as an office, but it’s absolutely not big enough for a meeting of more than two people (even that’s pushing it). So again, my work is compromised because he needs to use the living room as his “conference room.”
Solution: He tries to keep meetings to conference calls, but if he absolutely must meet a group in person, he rents out a temporary conference room space through WeWork.
4. Brainstorm barnstorm
So this one isn’t always a problem, but sometimes, I like to bounce ideas off my sig-o when I’m working on a particularly challenging piece. Usually, he can give me a couple of minutes, but I often feel like I’m interrupting him.
Solution: He closes the door to the office (where he usually works) if he doesn’t want to be interrupted. In which case, I call a friend or my mom to work out my ideas.
5. Home stuff gets in the way
The great thing about going somewhere other than home to work is that you are literally taking yourself out of home issues for the day. However, if you both work from home, these issues are all around you and can easily become your focus, especially if one person loves to organize with a partner (me).
Solution: Put a reminder for yourself in your phone and have it go off when you usually set work aside for the day. Unlike work, home improvements don’t have pressing deadlines.
6. The impulse to be “couple-y” is strong
If your sig-o is just in the other room, it’s tempting to run in and love on him/her every once in a while or show him/her something cute or funny you found online. However, I find this can get out of hand and can become annoying to the person trying to work.
Solution: A kiss a couple of times a day is fine, but if you find yourself getting gooey every hour, you should try reining it in for the sake of being productive.
7. The line between work time and home time gets fuzzy
Since we both have jobs that aren’t on the nine-to-five clock, it’s sometimes difficult to know when to put our projects away for the day. Usually, what happens is one of us is done with work long before the other, which leads to major frustration because now couple-time is being compromised.
Solution: Make sure you both agree on a mutual end-of-day time. If someone needs to go over, make sure your sig-o is aware ahead of time so they can plan accordingly (e.g. watch the latest Orange Is the New Black).