Now a majority of us are working from home, many of us are facing the additional challenge of sharing a working space with loved ones. For some of us it’s housemates.
How do you keep it professional when your sister, husband, mum or aunt are home while you’re trying to stay on track with work? It can be difficult. But there are great rewards to be reaped when you're trading strangers for loved ones in the office: it's simply about getting that home/work balance right, even if right now they are the same place!
A strain can be placed on the strongest of relationships when the line between work life and home life is crossed. But a family is, after all, a natural team. Let’s see if we can’t iron out some of the potential issues you could be facing in the coming weeks.
Here are some top tips from Workspace companies to help you get the most out of your family venture and quash any needless squabbles before they arise.
1) Don't ignore family dynamics
Every family has its ups and downs but the best way to stop them from interfering with work is to face them head on. Letting things sit and fester doesn't solve anything, especially when it runs the risk of encroaching on home life, too. Manage bubbling issues so they don't become a distraction and make sure that you have clear lines of communication at all times. Also, it's crucial to make decisions based on reason and rationality, not speculation and emotion.
Have a discussion about where everyone works from and stick to these locations to avoid confusions (or accidental walk-ins on online video meetings with your boss!). Make sure you know when you can and cannot disturb each other and take breaks separately or together depending on how you feel those will play out. It may be easier to save time together for the end of the day when work is done.
2) Look for fresh perspectives
Having someone at home who can provide a neutral opinion on something can actually be very handy. Family or close friends will understand you and what you value better than most. Run ideas past them if you can and take the opportunity to learn new things from each other.
If this lockdown is teaching us anything, it is the value of creativity. So, roll with this and get inspiration from your new co-workers while you can.
3) Keep the home-work divide
As with most things, there is a time and a place: business chat is not for the dinner table. Allowing the two to cross over can be damaging to work morale and mental health. Draw a line in the sand when you finish work for the day and make an effort to spend some quality 'you time' together outside of ‘the office’, even if you can still see it from the sofa.
Where possible, have a place you can leave and not see while you relax or take time out. You won’t be tempted back to your desk that way.
4) Stay fair
Pay, promotions, criticism and praise should be even-handed, regardless of a person's relationship to you. If you're working with other people outside of the family too, it is crucial that you avoid nepotism. Be sure to reward people on hard work and skills, rather than genetics.
Try to understand that everyone in the house is trying to manage an unusual situation. If you can foresee issues around childcare, housework, or looking after pets or other loved ones, make sure everyone agrees a routine for that. Don’t let resentment grow because you feel your work is more important than a partners or flatmates. Work together to get a plan that keeps everyone as happy as possible.
5) Focus on individual strengths
In the spirit of ‘teamwork makes the dream work’ – delegate tasks to your new co-workers and yourself that best suit everyone. Does your housemate prefer to handle the laundry while you’d rather take out the rubbish? Fine – make sure those are your tasks.
Is your mum an excel whiz and your brother a tech pro? Ask them to help you with tasks and challenges in return for supporting them with something you are good at. Chances are you won’t get the chance to work this closely to them again!
6) Enjoy it!
Most importantly, make sure you enjoy your family. Working with people close to you can be great fun, so make the most of it! You can take your lunch break with your partner every day and no longer dread the ‘train is late again’ call that delays a dinner for two.
This is a strange time, so be ready to be flexible with one another.
Who are your new co-workers? Is it just you and the dog? Home with mum and dad? Tell us who you’re working from home with on social using the hashtag #MyNewWorkspaceCoworker
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