“Ohhhhh I don’t know how you do it!” is a common phrase that we hear from people when they find out we work together side by side and shock horror we’re married too. I’ll be honest, it’s not always easy, sometimes it’s painful, however, neither of us would change it and there are several reasons why.
Today is our 14th wedding anniversary (ahhhhh) and we’ve been working together longer than we’ve been married, and before you ask no we didn’t meet over the water cooler in an office in London. We’ve lived and worked up here in the Highlands for nearly 20 years now and self employment is the norm up in these here parts. Culturally, logistically and historically, The Scottish Highlands lends itself to self employment, without exception all of our close local friends are self employed and this shared experience means we swap stories, give advice or are just a shoulder when needed and we wouldn’t swap it for the world.
So, not only do we work together, we work from a shared office in our home… I know sacre bleu! Needless to say we have to have rules, and these rules are followed religiously otherwise there is hell to pay and a lot of shouting. These tips for working with your partner may not be right for everyone but if, like us, you think working with your better half may just be the thing you need in your life then these might help a little bit:
Have defined roles; no one is good at everything, so find your skills and go with them, obviously there will be a crossover at times but by working on what you are good at, not only are you not competing or nit picking that it wouldn’t be the way you’d do it, you are actually enhancing the other one’s work.
Work normal office hours. This is not really related to couples but more home working, the temptation to work all the time is ever present and of course there are days (nights) when we over run, but for the most part having set hours is essential.
Just because you are working together it doesn’t mean that you are both working on the same thing. Have a catch up in the kitchen over a cup of tea, be interested in the other ones work. We often find that we could be working in complete silence all morning and only when we start making lunch do we discuss what we’ve each been working on.
Enjoy each others company; it should be a given that you like being around each other, you fell in love and decided to live together didn’t you? We have fun, we smile, we laugh, we argue about who’s turn it is to make the tea.
Be nice to each other; that non work related argument shouldn’t spill over into the office, it creates and awful atmosphere and hinders the work process. If you are a fractious couple at the best of times then possibly rethink the whole working together option! There is an argument that you should treat each other with the same, or an even higher level of courtesy than you would a colleague, that would just feel weird with us, but the thought is there.
Understand each others working style; some of us like to talk through things before we start, others like to work on something and then bring it to the table, both styles are good, both are very different and the sooner you work out that you might be completely different in your working style than your spouse and allow for that, the better.
Have each others back. I’ve got you, is a common phrase in our office. Of course we have! It’s us against the world sometimes and so it should be, if you can’t trust your spouse 110% then who can you trust?
And finally, slightly tongue in cheek but possibly the most important are our two ‘never broken’ rules:
Never work in your pyjamas, under no circumstances should anyone think that you are sat at home in your pants in front of the computer whilst supposedly being professional.
No work talk in the bedroom, ever.