Whether you’re launching your new business from the spare bedroom, or just scored your first freelance writing gig, working from home can seem like a dream come true. But if you’re not considerate, it can quickly become a problem for those you live with.
If you’re married or in a serious relationship, the stakes are even higher.
Before you drive your love of your life up the wall—or worse, out the door—make sure you take a few precautions. After all, you don’t want your dream job causing trouble in paradise.
- Keep it Clean
One of the benefits of working 9 to 5 is that you leave a tidy house in the morning. When you get home at night, exhausted after a long day at the office, there’s no cleaning up to do and you can simply kick back in front of the TV.
People who work from home love to brag about sleeping in, taking long lunches, and working from the couch in their underwear. What they won’t tell you is that all that lounging around can create a huge mess!
If your spouse comes home to a pigsty everyday, they’re going to get over it pretty quickly. Make sure you set aside some time in your daily routine to clean up. Pick up after yourself and do the dishes at the very least—but if you can, try and leave things spotless!
- Schedule Quality Time
Imagine living in your office. Spending 24 hours a day in the same tiny space would eventually drive you nuts. That’s the reality of many people who work from home.
You might think you can make your own schedule, but when the deadlines, meetings, and projects pile up, it can feel like you’re chained to your laptop, too busy to even walk to the corner for a coffee.
If your spouse works 9 to 5, this can put you on conflicting schedules. When they’re returning from work ready to relax, you’re either still working or climbing the walls—ready to explode if you don’t get out of the house.
Being on different orbits can cause all sorts of stress in your relationship, so make sure you schedule quality time together. If you need to get out of the house, maybe start work early and plan a long walk or a trip to the gym with your partner in the afternoon. If weekdays are too busy, propose a regular date night on the weekends.
- Set Boundaries
A big problem with working from home is that other people assume you are perennially available to run errands for them. They may not realize that you have deadlines and meetings just like everyone else. Make sure you set clear boundaries for yourself and others, so that everyone knows when you’re working and when you’re free.
A good way to do this is to set office hours. To keep others informed, write them in your email footer or post them on the door to your office.
- Clearly Define Your Workspace
It sounds cool to work from the couch, or bed, or the back garden on a warm spring day. But the problem with working from anywhere and everywhere is that you’re not creating any psychological differentiation between your workspace and your leisure space. It can also be annoying to others when they find you working in random places around the house.
Having your own space is extremely important for your productivity. Some will be lucky enough to have their own home office, but if not, pick a spot in the house, like your kitchen table. That way, when you sit down, you brain—and everyone else in the house—will know that it’s time to for you to work.
- Communication is Key
Just like an ordinary office, you share your home with other people. But unlike an office, those people also live there. If you’re working on a huge project and are going to be camped out in the dining room for the next three days—let your spouse know in advance. Likewise if you have a 6am Skype meeting that might wake them up.
Talk to your partner about their needs. Since you’re in the house all the time, they may feel that you dominate the space. Let them know you’re open to leaving the house for a few hours if they need some privacy or want to have a friend over.
Working from home doesn’t have to ruin your relationship. Just make sure your set some boundaries, and take your partner’s needs into account.