Nick is a marketing and communications specialist, working with clients both big and small. He is a husband and father first, however.
Working With Your Partner
With the birth of our son Luke, we decided that it would be a great opportunity for us to reevaluate our situation and take the plunge into doing a little freelance/self-employed work organizing events and study trips for students.
Over the 12-month maternity break that my wife had taken, I had taken on a well-paying contract job and started saving some money that would keep us going whilst we got ourselves established.
Following the delve into working for myself (and my family), I have discovered a few glaring differences between my time in the office, to my time working from home. Whilst these are based on experiences working from a home environment, they may also be worth considering if you are thinking of working in the same office as your partner.
1. Keep Personal Time Personal
Okay. I put the most obvious one first, and I apologize for using the old saying: Don't mix business with pleasure.
This might come easier for people who work in an office, but for someone who used the same laptop as both their work space and to play Netflix and YouTube videos, those lines can become blurred rather easily.
As soon as discussions turn towards work, you may find yourself booting up that document one more time to have a quick review, or facing feedback on some work that you feel the need to act on immediately. This is not great when you are trying to catch up on the latest episode of Game of Thrones or winding down with a good book and will help avoid a great deal of conflict - only discuss it if that file needs editing immediately.
Make clear work hours and agree on them between yourselves. You may find that it is not as easy to do so if you are working from home, but you need to be clear when it is/when it is not okay to talk about work with your partner at the end of the day.
2. Clarify the Chain of Command
Office romances are (arguably) great, but what if one person has seniority over the other and work directly with each other?
In this instance, my wife is the main contract winner and I am the creative arm of our endeavors. We have decided that, because of this, she has the main say in our direction.
It is great that we live in an age where women taking positions of power is better than it has been (we still have far to go!), but when friends and family hear of this, they still make the odd joke. Whilst it is intended to be harmless fun, it is still mildly damaging.
Whether working at home or in the office, it is important to be able to be comfortable with the fact that the balance of power may be different in work compared to at home.
Let me know when you find out! I am comfortable with the odd joke, but it can be damaging—so be aware that this is a consequence of working very closely with someone you care about.
3. Understand Each Other's Strengths (and Weaknesses)
I always knew my wife was a very dedicated person and know myself to have a very creative, but often temperamental personality and less rigid work style.
When working with a colleague you may not be entirely happy with how they work. When it is your partner that you do not agree with, these little nuances you disagree with will feel so much worse.
Be aware of each other's skills and approach to work and discuss beforehand how best to divide your responsibilities. Make it very clear what is expected and respect each other's approach to their task.
4. Don't Lose Sight of What Matters
There have been times where it gets a little bit much for us both, but then ultimately we realize that we are both in this together.
I am not going to lie—there have been fights that you will not see between office colleagues—but following some of these, we have both reflected and understand that whilst we may clash, we have a solid support structure in each other and that we are working together for a common cause.
Don't lose sight of what matters. We work to make a better life for ourselves and our family. When this is clear, all other struggles and conflicts seem smaller in comparison.
Working with your partner can be a surreal experience. The lines between work and personal life can be blurry at the best of times.
Many people find their partners in the workplace, so working with a partner is often unavoidable, but if you are with an existing partner and the option to work together becomes available through either working for yourself, or someone else, be sure to make sure you share the same goals in whatever it is you do.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2018 Nicholas Lester