Can two people work from home in the same house? I’m here to tell you that they can, but it’s not always easy! Combining two people (especially ones that love each other and want to be together) can create difficulties for a smooth working environment, and for a relationship. Keep reading to see how you can work in the same house with your partner.
My husband have worked together from home for over eight years.
This eight-year period included many variations of our careers: employment, part-time employment, a grad school degree, and being unemployed looking for work while being self-employed.
Let me be the first to tell you: It’s hard.
Even if you love your partner and have a ton of patience, it’s hard.
If you struggle to spend quality time with the other person, it’s doubly hard.
So, how can two people work from home in the same house? Let’s get into it.
How can two people work from home in the same house?
If you and your partner are planning on working from home in the same house, than you are about to get really close.
If you are married, do you remember that first year of marriage when all of a sudden you became very aware of how hard it is to be honest with yourself and another person?
It’s the same thing now. You are about to get really close and honest.
Before you do anything, plan your first check-in. My husband and I actually call them “business meetings”. Do this first before you set up desks, schedule your time, or book childcare. This is how you do that and become more than just roommates.
1. Check in every month
When it comes to working with your partner, your internal questions and your family solutions will change a LOT. One season you will be in a great cadence with kids, work, and life…and the next season things fall apart.
My husband and I have gotten very intentional about asking each other weekly questions: Are our children happy? Do we need to make any family changes? Have we had intentional time together recently? What does each person need in the coming week?
These check-ins give you permission to change things up, and make sure the right things are prioritized.
Questions we ask ourselves:
- How much time do we need alone per week?
- What does our relationship need right now?
- Which time of day is the hardest, and what do I need the most then?
- How can we arrange the house to gives us both space?
Once you know what you and your partner need, find a solution that you can use to start small. Pick 2-4 ideas to implement over the course of the year. You don’t need to tackle all of them at once. Just use this list to start small!
How it works in our family:
Here’s a pattern that we are implementing right now that really helps our family. I’m not saying this is for everyone, but it works for us….for now.
Every week, my husband and I chat about what the other person needs. On top of our normal schedules, my husband is working on house renovations, I work on this blog, and we both have external obligations. This allows us to be honest about the flexibility we need.
I might tell my husband that I need 3-4 hours extra that week, and he might need 2-3. We factor these “needs” into our schedules, and give each other the time the other person needs. (For us, these needs are outside of the work day, and reflect additional remote jobs or obligations.)
Here are some ways we give ourselves this extra time:
- 3-4 times a week, we feed our children dinner early by themselves. On these nights, we alternate who does the dinner/bedtime routines. When I take care of the kids, he has time to get his work done. The other nights he does the dinner/bedtime routine, and I have extra hours to accomplish my work. After the kids are in bed, we then have dinner and chill time together, uninterrupted.
- 2-3 times a night we eat with the kids, and do the bedtime routine together. After the kids are in bed, my husband and I split and work on our separate work projects. I manage several Pinterest accounts for clients, and complete this work usually between 8 pm – 1 am on these nights. (I also grab one of these for my self-care, early-to-bed night.)
- On weekends, we find periods of time to give each other help when needed. It might be that my husband takes the kids to the park, while I stay home and clean the house. Or I might entertain the kids while he does house construction. If we do a family activity, then we alternate dinner time that day so we can catch up on our obligations.
These patterns aren’t perfect, and if they ever get in the way of “family time”, we adjust. But for right now, they work, and they give us extra time during an already-busy week.
2. Have office boundaries
Don’t work in the same room. Have separate space.
I know, that’s just my two cents. But it’s too much.
Talk about your office space needs and where you would prefer to work. Even if one person is perching on the couch for a period of the day, or heading out to Starbucks with their laptop, not being in the same room is valuable. If you are struggling to have enough space, consider using a dining table, coffee table, kitchen table or other temporary, but dedicated space for your at-home workspace/workplace.
Respect the closed door: When you are setting up your home office expectations, talk about the closed door privacy rule. If the door is closed, then respect the closed door, and let the other person have their space with no distractions.
If you don’t have a door between your two spaces, then use the earbud rule. If the other person has their earbuds in (or noise-canceling headphones), respect. Walk away. Give them their space.
3. Talk about your PDA expectations
When you are both working from home, it’s really important that you talk about your expectations for touching and affection.
You no longer have a time of the day where you hug or kiss when someone comes home from work. And it’s pretty exhausting if you expect some sort of affirmation every time you pass each other in the house.
Instead, find a time each day to pretend like you are “coming home from work” and kiss and reconnect then. Talk about what that looks like. Do you need to debrief about the day? Have some “catching up period”? Or just a hug and kiss to signify that the work day is done?
Do you need some quick resources? Here are some of my favorites!
- Check out my favorite stay-at-home date ideas here.
- I LOVE The Dating Divas for date night/intimacy ideas. Totally recommend their apps and reminders to reconnect with your partner/boyfriend when things are hard.
- If you need real help, I really love the Marriage resources that Mort Fertel puts out. This has been a great resources for real help instead of marriage counseling.