As an independent advisor, you may be used to working in a non-traditional setting. One of the perks of being an independent advisor is that you can work from home, from a coffee shop, from a beach in Mexico, or pretty much wherever you want. Though you may be used to working from a home office, what you probably are not used to is doing this while your partner also works from home. The situation gets even more complicated when you have kids who now need to be home-schooled.

The global pandemic has changed the way we work. While there are plenty of ways to use this time to your advantage, it can also present a number of challenges—especially if you’re experiencing conflict at home due to being cooped up in the same house for days on end. If this situation is taking a toll on you and your family, these tips on co-working without driving each other crazy can help.

Give Each Other a Break

You are the result of your thoughts in both your professional and your personal life. If you start thinking of your partner as an annoyance or in other negative terms, you’re likely to experience a lot of conflicts. No matter how your significant other acts, he or she is not intentionally trying to upset you. This is a new territory for many couples and handling it properly is a process of trial and error. Everyone handles situations differently, and it’s important to treat your partner with empathy. Try looking at the situation from a place of curiosity. How can you learn from your partner at this time? How can you best support them? You and your partner are on the same team and reminding yourself of this can often help you cut the other some slack.

Have Separate Spaces

As an independent advisor, you probably already have your own workspace at home. But when you add in another person working from home, things can get crowded. If you’re fortunate enough to have a large house with multiple unused rooms, designate one for each of your home offices. If this isn’t the case, at least have separate desks that are not directly beside each other. If you have no choice but to be in the same room, you may want to set up a barrier such as a screen or a curtain. By simply having your own space to work in, you can diffuse much of the tension.

Lay Down Ground Rules

Just as you need to adopt healthy boundaries with your clients, you also need to do so with your partner. If you don’t communicate about your expectations and what will make the experience easier on both of you, neither of you will know how to act. That’s why it’s crucial that you sit down and come up with some mutual ground rules during this time. Here are some examples:

  • Who will take care of children/pets, when, and what that involves?
  • Who will run which errands and when?
  • A schedule for who can take video or conference calls and when if you’re sharing a space where a call is disruptive to the other.
  • Who will use what technology and when if you’re sharing equipment like printers or computers?
  • Which meals you plan to eat together and when you’re on your own.
  • Who will handle childcare and on what schedule if you have kids at home?
  • When interruptions are allowed and when they are not.

If you’re not sure what rules to set, think back to the last week or so and write down what the two of you have argued about. Now decide which ground rules would have helped to prevent those situations.

Designate Work Hours

You and your partner likely have different versions of the perfect workday. Yours might be working hard for a couple of hours, taking an hour or two break, then working again into the evening. Your significant other may prefer to work the normal 8-5 to maintain a routine. While you don’t have to keep the same hours, you do have to understand and accept each other’s schedules. You also need to both have a time when you shut work down and focus on family time. It’s a lot easier to overwork from home, which can lead to even more stress and pressure on the relationship.

Not taking measures to set up a harmonious work-at-home situation with your partner can lead to stress, conflict, and a nosedive in productivity and motivation. Do you have any tips or strategies you’ve found useful working from home with your partner? Please leave them below!