Jessica Testa - 19 Nov, 2020

How to survive while sharing office space with your partner

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During the pandemic period, many people were told to work from home. In some cases, households had various family members working or learning from home and required some readjusting as they had to get used to this change quickly. 

For households where both people in a couple are sharing an office space for the first time, there may have been a number of issues that arose from this huge change that may have had an affect on their relationship. This, in addition to the regular problems that come with working from home, can make the atmosphere of the home office even more stressful.

Discover some of these issues that you may face while working from home with your partner and some tips to make the work day run more smoothly.

What issues couples may face when sharing an office space?

The most important first step to repairing a strained relationship caused by the stress of working from home with your partner is to identify the issues that may have had an impact. It may require a Sunday morning conversation over breakfast with your partner to find out how they are finding things in your shared home office and what they are finding most difficult.

Not enough space

Working from home could mean having to work in a smaller space than you’re used to, especially if you don’t have an existing home office. When you are jammed into a one-bedroom apartment with your partner, that space can seem even smaller. Add the equipment you both need to complete your work and it may be almost impossible to finish an eight-hour day without getting on each other’s nerves.

Too noisy

This small space can mean that some jobs can become noisier than others. If you have a job that involves a lot of phone calls or meetings, it can be a constant stream of noise for your partner, who is trying to focus on their own work. In addition to that, if you are the type of person who prefers to chat while working but your partner likes to focus in silence, these two completely different preferences can be frustrating.

Wrong equipment

When some couples were first faced with the idea of working from home, they may have discovered that they didn’t have the right equipment for both of them to complete their day-to-day jobs. Perhaps the issue is having adequate desk space or having to share a laptop charger and office phone. This can prevent work from getting done on time.

Conflicting work hours or irregular schedules

Some couples may have one half working regular 9 to 5 hours and the other hours working more irregular hours. One couple may even be out of work at the moment and be stuck at home with nothing to do but job hunt and binge-watch Netflix all day. Even if they are working within the same hours, their scheduled meetings or phone calls may conflict with each other.

This can not only prevent one half of the couple from completing their meetings or phone calls in the designated office space, but it can also be the cause of the extreme noise levels and can cause distractions within the office environment.

woman working from bed while annoyed partner tries to sleep

Hard to focus

All of these issues contribute to an overarching problem of it being hard to focus while working in an office space with your partner. While you are not used to having them there while you are working can be distracting, especially if one of you finds it hard to sit down and focus regardless of who you are sitting with. This can stop you from completing your work on time or cause you to make mistakes or miss the smaller details.

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What are some easy tips for couples who are sharing an office space?

Despite all of these issues being a reality in many households across Australia during this time, it’s not hard to solve these issues before they cause too much damage to your relationship.

Here are eight tips for couples who are working from home and dealing with the issues that come with sharing an office space:

Consider each other’s preferences

Finding out how your partner likes to work may be one of the best ways to keep the peace in your home office. Maybe they prefer to have a window beside them so they have the sight of nature close-by and some natural light streaming into the room. They could prefer peace and quiet as opposed to music playing in the background as they work. Negotiating these things may help to make sure you can both maintain a comfortable environment for both of you.

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Make sure there is enough space

Although you may not be able to help the size of the room you have, figuring out how you can make some room for your partner is a nice way to make things more comfortable for both of you. Spend some time decluttering your home office and arranging your equipment. You may surprise yourself when you see what you actually have stored in there compared to what you actually use in your current role.

Ensure there is room for privacy when required

Sometimes your partner may prefer some privacy if they have some phone calls to make or if they prefer to work alone. This is where remote working comes in. If you are able to, offer to move outside for a couple of hours or to a different room if you can so you can give them the privacy they need. It is important to make sure this goes both ways so call them out if you feel like you need them to respect your need for privacy as well.

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Consider each other’s schedules

If you know when you’ll need to make some phone calls or have a meeting, let your partner know so they can schedule their phone calls and meetings around that, if it is possible. Furthermore, if you finish work earlier than your partner, avoid turning on the television or making noise until they are also finished their day or opt to make dinner for the night so they can just sit back and relax when they can finally log off and spend some time with you.

Make sure you have the right equipment for both of you

Before you can get to work with your new work buddy, you should start by setting up your home office so it is comfortable for both of you and you both have everything you need to thrive. Sit down with your partner and work out what you have, what you still need to get and how you are going to arrange it all in a neat and tidy way. Don’t forget to keep your receipts so you can claim your work expenses during tax time.

Invest in good quality headphones

Just like when you are in the actual office, one way to deal with the outside noise is to invest in some good quality headphones. While you use them to hear your colleagues during a Zoom meeting so you don’t disturb your partner or while you are doing focus work to block out any phone calls your partner needs to make in the same room.

Help each other maintain a balance between work and life

It’s important to maintain a work-life balance while working in the same environment that you live in. While it can be hard to adjust to this change, you and your partner can work together to make sure you are consistently doing this. You can do this by planning to have your lunch breaks together, respecting each other’s boundaries and calling each other out when it’s time to switch off.

couple working out together from home

Support each other

Working from home can make the work day more difficult and often lonely so while you and your partner are working in the same space, it is important to celebrate each other’s wins and offer support and encouragement during some of the more stressful moments. This can be as simple as making them a nice cup of tea when they are on a deadline or taking 10 minutes to listen to them vent after a tough meeting.

Are you in a slump while still working from home? It may be helpful to set out some rules to make sure you are maintaining your work-life balance in a healthy way.

Words by Jessica Testa


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